Winner of the 2022 ASA/HQ Fiction Prize. A finely observed debut novel of a young Muslim woman's experience of immigration to Australia from Sri Lankan-Australian writer Ayesha Inoon.

Zia secretly longs to go to university but as a young woman in a traditional Muslim family, she does what is expected of her and agrees to an arranged marriage to Rashid, a man she barely knows. Cocooned by the wealth and customs of her family, Rashid's dark moods create only the smallest of ripples in their early life together.

When growing political unrest spurs them to leave Sri Lanka and immigrate to Australia, Zia is torn between fear of leaving her beloved family and the possibility of new freedoms. While on paper their new country welcomes them with open arms, their visas come with many restrictions and for the first time Zia faces isolation, poverty and an increasingly unstable marriage that forms a cage stronger than any she's known before.

Determined to carve a place for herself in this new country, Zia sets out on uncertain terrain and discovers friendship, devastating loss and hope for a different future. One that asks her to consider not just who she is, but who she might become.

Partially drawn from her own experiences, debut author Ayesha Inoon's novel weaves the threads of family, culture and tradition together with the uncertainty and freedom of starting anew to create a complex tapestry of identity, resilience and hope.

'A nuanced and moving exploration of what it means to leave the only home you've ever known for the promise of a better life, Ayesha Inoon's Untethered examines the crushing disappointments that can await immigrants and the ever-present question of whether they did the right thing.' - Tracey Lien, award-winning author of All That's Left Unsaid

'By turns gentle and searing, rich with life, yearning and the search for self, Ayesha Inoon's beautifully written debut novel is an unmissable read.' - Kim Lock, bestselling author of The Other Side of Beautiful & The Fancies


'Untethered is a study in cultural difference, written with fluidity and honesty. It's thought-provoking and invites cultural self-examination.' - The Canberra Bookshelf

'Untethered is about uprooting and relocating, and it is about the resilience of one woman, determined to take control of her own life.' - The Weekend Australian, Notable Books

About the author(s)

Ayesha Inoon is a Sri Lankan-Australian writer with a unique cultural perspective, which she brings to her writing. Born in Colombo, she travelled widely and worked as a journalist in Sri Lanka before immigrating to Australia in 2013.

Winner of the ASA/HQ Commercial Fiction Prize 2022, her debut novel, Untethered, is partly based on her experiences as an immigrant Muslim woman. Ayesha was a recipient of the inaugural 2019 Penguin Random House Write It Fellowship for an early draft of this novel. In 2020 she was selected for the Rosie Scott Writing Residency in NSW, and in September 2022 she was awarded a KSP fellowship by the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers' Centre in WA to work on her second novel.

Her feature articles have been published by SBS Australia, The Sunday Times Sri Lanka, Serendib and Explore Sri Lanka.

Ayesha lives in Canberra with her two children.

You can follow Ayesha on Twitter and Instagram at @ayeshainoon.