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Arnold Zable - Writer & Storyteller
Arnold Zable is an award winning writer, novelist, storyteller and human rights advocate situated in Melbourne, Australia.


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The Watermill

Echoing the rhythms of the watermill—and ranging from remote provinces in China and Cambodia, to pre-and post-war Yiddish Poland, Kurdish Iraq and Iran, indigenous and present-day Melbourne—this quartet of stories are united by the ebbs and flows of trauma and healing, statelessness and displacement, memory and forgetting, oppression and resistance... Read more »


The Fighter

So it’s come to this. Sixty-seven years old and he labours on the docks. Cropped grey-white beard, ex-boxer’s pug nose, he is wiry, rotund and short. His strength is sensed rather than seen, belied by age and excess weight. Vigour is the word. Henry Nissen exudes vigour. His life force is strong. It animates his gestures, powers his determined lit... Read more »

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Violin Lessons

A young boy plays the violin for his mother in Melbourne. Nina Simone sings 'Pirate Jenny' in a bar in Berlin. A fisherman plays a flute on the Mekong. And the strains of Paganini resonate in the forests of eastern Poland. From the cabarets and houseboats of 1940s Baghdad, to the streets of war-torn Saigon, and the canals and alleys of present-day ... Read more »

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Sea of Many Returns

Ithaca. I cannot recall the first time I heard the word. It has always been there like an ancient longing welling up from the sea.  Xanthe is drawn to Ithaca, the birthplace of her father Manoli and her maternal grandfather Mentor. She is translating Mentor's manuscript, his story of leaving Ithaca and his life in Australia: fleeing the Kalgoorlie ... Read more »

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Scraps of Heaven

It's 1958 and Australia is becoming a different place. The Melbourne working-class suburb of Carlton is now home to many immigrant families trying to begin new lives and make sense of the old. Romek and Zofia, liberated from the camps in Poland, work hard at the local market, but their love is in ruins. Bloomfield is king and custodian of Curtin Sq... Read more »

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The Fig Tree

The Fig Tree is a tender book of true stories about family, about journeys, about home. Arnold Zable, bestselling author of Cafe Scheherazade, describes remarkable people struggling through tragic times and rejoicing in the unexpectedness of life itself. Zable writes with wonderful feeling about the Greek villagers who made the long journey to and ... Read more »

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Café Scheherazade

'In Acland Street, St Kilda, there stands a café called Scheherazade.' Thus begins Arnold Zable's haunting meditation on displacement, and the way the effects of war linger in the minds of its survivors. In this deeply moving book we meet Avram and Masha, proprietors of the café, and hear the tales that they and their fellow storytellers have to of... Read more »

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Jewels and Ashes

"Do you ever think about those you left behind? I ask father."Not often," he says. "Such memories are a luxury I can't afford." First his parents made a journey to the New World. It was the 1930s, and Europe was seething. As he grew up, Arnold Zable heard tales, songs, fragments of the world they had left behind. He had inherited a fractured, vibra... Read more »

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Cafe Scheherazade as Text Classic

Read Bram Presser’s introduction at the Sydney Review of Books In Acland Street, St Kilda, there stands a cafe called Scheherazade. Thus begins Arnold Zable’s haunting meditation on displacement, and the way the effects of war linger in the minds of its survivors. In this deeply moving book we meet Avram and Masha, proprietors of the cafe, and he... Read more »