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- author Jackie French

Monday 24 August 2020

Announcement: Samera Kamaleddine wins HarperCollins’ inaugural Matilda Children’s Literature Prize

HarperCollins Children’s Books Australia has announced Samera Kamaleddine as the winner of its inaugural Matilda Children’s Literature Prize, for her YA manuscript, The Truth About Luck.

A story about a 16-year-old Lebanese-Australian struggling to fit into two worlds in a fictional South Western Sydney suburb, the winning manuscript reflects modern Australia in all its glory and complexity.

Kamaleddine said, 'The Truth About Luck is certainly not the story I expected to pour out of me when I quit my dream job to write my dream book – but it quickly became something I was super excited to get up for every day.'

Lisa Berryman, Children’s and Young Adult Publisher, and judge of The Matilda, said of the winning manuscript, 'The shortlist for the inaugural Matilda Children’s Literature Prize contained three very strong manuscripts, but we all fell in love with Layla Karimi from the very first page. The Truth About Luck is funny, warm, insightful and authentic, with a voice that completely engages you. Talented author, Samera Kamaleddine has written a book that so many teenagers will identify with, whether or not they are caught between two cultures. Her debut novel is Looking for Alibrandi for today’s teen and we are so excited to be publishing it as our first Matilda prize winner.'

Prior to completing her first manuscript, Kamaleddine spent the early part of her career writing about boys, annoying parents and friendship dramas in teen magazines including DOLLY, Girlfriend and Smash Hits.

Cristina Cappelluto, Publishing Director, HarperCollins Children’s Books Australia said, 'At the heart of our vision for the Matilda Children’s Literature Prize was the desire to find a new Australian voice that would connect with young audiences and reflect our experiences as a society. Samera Kamaleddine’s The Truth About Luck does exactly that and I couldn’t have hoped for a better story to publish as the inaugural winner of the prize. Samera has a fresh, engaging and authentic voice, and we look forward to sharing this story (and hopefully many more from her) with Australia.'

Upon receiving the news, the Sydney-based journalist was a mix of excited, happy and nervous – 'a feat [she] could never have guessed all those (gazillion) hours of typing away would culminate in'.

'I can’t wait to start working with the HarperCollins team to share Layla’s (and sort of Teenage Samera’s) story – she might consider herself unlucky, but today I feel like the luckiest girl around.'

Kamaleddine’s manuscript will be published under the Angus & Robertson imprint in 2021.

Visit the Matilda Children’s Literature Prize site for information about the next submission round.