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I am a writer, mum and general practitioner from Melbourne, Australia. I have been published in print and online. My writing has appeared in The Age, Meanjin, Overland, Griffith REVIEW, Sleepers Almanac, The Bridport Prize Anthology, Lascaux Review, Visible Ink, Peril, The Victorian Writer and Seizure. My short story collection, Australia Day, won the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Unpublished Manuscript and went on to win the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction. My latest book is the novel, Room for a Stranger. If Saul Bellow is right and “a writer is a reader moved to emulation” then I am moved by authors like Richard Yates, Alice Munro, Haruki Murakami and Christos Tsiolkas.

Australia Day was published by Text in July 2017. You can purchase print copies here

The audiobook can be purchased here



‘This is a theme that Cheng’s stories revisit again and again. All of her characters—a diverse cast of difference races and faiths—are searching for connection or a sense of belonging, and coming up short. Despite its title the focus of this collection is not explicitly on that increasingly controversial public holiday. Rather, it is on the struggles, internal and external, that occur when people from different backgrounds meet by chance or are brought together…Australia Day is a bittersweet, beautifully crafted collection that will be much admired by fans of Cate Kennedy and Tony Birch.’ – Books + Publishing

‘Melanie Cheng is an astonishingly deft and incisive writer. With economy and elegance, she creates a dazzling mosaic of contemporary life, of how we live now. Hers is a compelling new voice in Australian literature.’ – Christos Tsiolkas

‘What a wonderful book, a book with bite. These stories have a real edge to them. They are complex without being contrived, humanising, but never sentimental or cloying—and, ultimately, very moving.’ – Alice Pung

‘In each story, Melanie Cheng creates an entire microcosm, peeling back the superficial to expose the raw nerves of contemporary Australian society. Her eye is sharp and sympathetic, her characters flawed and funny and utterly believable.’ – Jennifer Down

‘Melanie Cheng’s stories are a deep dive into the diversity of humanity. They lead you into lives, into hearts, into unexplored places, and bring you back transformed.’ – Michelle Wright

‘The characters stay in the mind, their lives and experiences mirroring many of our own, challenging us to think how we might respond in their place. An insightful, sometimes uncomfortable portrayal of multicultural Australia from an observant and talented writer.’ – Ranjana Srivastava

‘Australia Day is an absorbing panorama of contemporary Australia…These are 14 powerfully perceptive stories, written with love, humour, realism, and a distinct edginess. While the terrain covered might be familiar, Cheng’s take on our treasured multiculturalism feels fresh… It’s necessary reading, not only because it’s a microcosm of who we are, but because each story is a gem, and a joy to behold.’ – Simon McDonald

‘If only the PM might pick up a copy, even by mistake.’ – The Saturday Paper

‘A wonderful feat of storytelling…Melanie Cheng is an exciting new writer.’ – Readings

‘A sumptuous collection of fourteen short stories, which are disparate but with modern Australia or Australians at their heart, exploring issues of racism, infidelity, grief, parenthood, children and ageing. Despite the brevity of some of these stories (one is just eight pages), they are heartfelt and Melbourne-based Cheng paints the characters beautifully.’ – Herald Sun

‘A panorama of contemporary multicultural Australia that explores each and everyone’s desire to belong.’ – Book Bonding

‘A diverse, captivating collection of short stories.’ – Better Read Than Dead

‘The happy surprise of Cheng’s work as a collection lies in her resolute grasp of the absolute normalcy of a culture that not so many years ago was divided and dually suspicious. The census gives us the facts but it takes fiction to make reality three-dimensional.’ – Sydney Morning Herald

‘The author’s empathetic eye and easy facility with dialogue make the anthology a strong debut, with the longer stories in particular offering breadth and depth…It feels like Cheng has taken a wide sample from the census to craft this inclusive portrait of contemporary Australia.’ – The Big Issue

‘A stunning debut that takes its place among Australian short story greats.’ – the AU Review

‘Cheng’s work is polished and affecting. Australia Day is that thing we all chase: a complex, engaging and timely read.’ – The Lifted Brow

‘Cheng paints a holistic snapshot of Australian life, with the result being a collection of stories that are simultaneously cynical and hopeful…The ambiguity inherent in labelling something “Australian” is also manifested in Cheng’s characters, prompting the reader to interrogate their own definition of what it means to be Australian.’ – Kill Your Darlings

‘Melanie Cheng writes prose that gets straight to the heart of the matter and tells it how it is…The more I sit here and reflect on each story in this collection, the stronger and more powerful they become.’ – Sam Still Reading


The Garret

RN Books and Arts

Writers Victoria

Kill Your Darlings podcast


Books and Publishing


4 thoughts on “Home”

  1. congratulations Melanie on your Victorian premiers award for Australia day!
    looking forward to seeing it published.


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