Zoya Patel redefines the Australian identity in latest book, No Country Woman
Story by Tiffany Fung
Like many multicultural Australians, Zoya Patel, successful editor and author, felt the pressure and confusion of having a mixed identity while growing up, often questioning what it meant for her to be an Australian.
Her latest memoir, No Country Woman, explores her experience of having been born in Fiji to parents of Fijian-Indian descent, moving to Australia at the age of three, and regularly visiting her country of birth throughout her adolescence.
“I write a lot in my book about how it took me a long time to actually want to own the label of being Fijian-Indian and that I felt I had to choose between Fiji-Indian and Australian,” she explained.
However, as Zoya got older, she realised her identity was more than where she lived, and that it could be as complex and as multifaceted as it could be.
“Your identity is really up to your own definition,” she said.
You get to choose how many practices you take from your cultural heritage and how you incorporate it into being Australian.
“There’s actually no single definition of what being Australian even means.”
Today, Zoya said she sees her identity as being a mix of cultural influences, combined with her work, animal welfare and feminist activism.
Influenced by her desire to educate people about her various passions, Zoya became Editor-in-Chief of Lip Magazine and later founded Feminartsy in 2014, an online journal exploring women’s lived experiences and stories.
“The ethos was about creating an in-depth, interesting content that might require somebody to take time out of their day to digest, but that would provide a personal point of connection and spread the message of gender equality that way,” she explained.
“We have so much to benefit from virtue of being globally connected and having a rich diversity of cultures that we can to draw from.”
Zoya also said she wants young women of colour to learn the lessons she wished she known.
“Be who you are but also be aware that nothing is final and no door is ever closed – you can kind of open a new between those cultures as much as you want,” she said.
This year, Zoya is working on a podcast that explores topics through the lens of marginalised perspectives, while writing another novel.