Muddy People by Sara El Sayed | Black Inc.

Muddy People: A Memoir

Book club notes

Awards for Muddy People

  • Shortlisted, Courier Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year Award
  • Shortlisted, Best designed nonfiction cover, Australian Book Design Awards
  • Shortlisted, The University of Queensland Non-Fiction Book Award
  • Shortlisted, Queensland Premier’s Award for a Work of State Significance
  • Highly Commended for the National Biography Award

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About the author

Sara El Sayed

Sara El Sayed was born in Alexandria, Egypt. She has a Master of Fine Arts and works at Queensland University of Technology. Her work features in the anthologies Growing Up African in Australia and Arab, Australian, Other, among other …

More about Sara El Sayed

Praise for Muddy People

‘Both cosmopolitan and Australian at the same time, Muddy People is like the best kind of cake: warm, sweet, a bit nutty – and made with so much love.’ —Alice Pung

‘Sara El Sayed's writing is fresh, vibrant and dynamic. This is the kind of mud that will dirty your hands and cleanse your spirit.’ —Michael Mohammed Ahmad, author of The Lebs

Muddy People is a nuanced, engaging and lyrical account of what it means to be Other in Australia, and its characters are impeccably drawn. Sara El Sayed is an enchanting and refreshing new voice in the Australian literary landscape.’ —Maxine Beneba Clarke

‘A beautifully told story of parents and children, pain and loss, and the love that binds people together. Told with real heart and charm, it will keep you riveted from the first page. Sara El Sayed is the most important new Arab-Australian voice in literature today.’ —Rohan Wilson, author of The Roving Party

‘It takes courage to write a memoir, but more than that it takes heart, and Sara El Sayed’s heart is generous and expansive. I gasped in recognition, I teared up in solidarity and I exhaled in relief – finally, a personal story that reflects so much that is familiar but is rarely found on bookshelves. This is the kind of memoir I have searched for in vain for years. Sara El Sayed has written a book both confident and delicate that will leave you eagerly awaiting her next. Read this!’ —Mona Eltahawy, The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls

‘With elegant lyricism, compelling urgency and a dark sense of humour, Muddy People by Sara El Sayed is an impressive debut memoir … El Sayed’s coming to voice reflects her journey of self-realisation, of understanding what it means to be a migrant millennial.’ —Books+Publishing

‘A warm and welcoming debut memoir ... As vividly realised as the book’s enticing cover ... Muddy People is full of small, bright moments – the kind of seismic internal shifts in understanding where a person starts to find their place in this world. Readers who loved Benjamin Law’s The Family Law or Alice Pung’s Unpolished Gem will relish this tender and vulnerable debut from a rising star in Australian literature.’ —Readings

Muddy People is a reflection of moving between the lines that are drawn for us – as children, as girls, as migrants – as we come of age.’ —The Guardian

‘Heartwarming and self-deprecating at times, this is an outstanding debut.’ —Sean Loughran, Curated

Teachers' Resources


Assimilation, Migration, Stereotypes, Religion, Body Image, Islamophobia

Reading age

Suitable for grade 10 and above


  Teaching notes

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