7 March 2024

Announcing the 2024 Kat Muscat Fellow!

Express Media and the Kat Muscat Fellowship Committee are thrilled to announce Xiaole Zhan as the recipient of the 2024 Kat Muscat Fellowship, which offers support and development to a young Australian writer and/or editor of an underrepresented gender.

The 2024 Kat Muscat Fellowship offers professional development up to the value of $5,000 for an editorial project or work of writing by a young person aged 16-30. Now in its seventh year, the Fellowship aims to continue Kat’s legacy and further develop the future of defiant and empathic young Australian feminists.

Xiaole Zhan, the recipient of the 2024 Kat Muscat Fellowship, says:

I am extremely honoured and deeply thankful to be named the 2024 Kat Muscat Fellow. I’ve been spending some time with Kat’s writing in the Farrago archives, reading and re-reading her 2015 column Sex and Gender and feeling recognised by her funny, fearless, sassy and warm voice—warm the way holding a friend’s hand is warm. I arrived in Narrm four years ago so never crossed paths with Kat, but I feel her deep impact on the community to this day.

I hope to write towards Kat Muscat’s values of defiance, feminism and empathy in my first collection of essays exploring growing up in a mixed Pākehā-Chinese family in Aotearoa and themes of intercultural family bonds, racism, chronic illness, depression, gender, and joy as resistance. The Fellowship will allow me to work closely with celebrated Australian writers Alice Pung and Maria Tumarkin—both of whom I deeply admire as writers and as people.

Thank you so much to the Kat Muscat Custodial Committee, the Muscat family, and Express Media for your support and belief in my work. It is such an honour to be a part of Kat Muscat’s enduring impact on young writers.’

Xiaole (they/them) is a Chinese-New Zealand writer and composer based in Naarm. They are interested in the collision between language and music to explore themes of culture, the body and mental health. They were the winner of the 2023 Kill Your Darlings Non-Fiction Prize for their autobiographical essay Think An Empty Room, Moonly With Phoneglow exploring experiences of racism growing up in a mixed Pākehā-Chinese family, as well as the winner of the 2023 Charles Brasch Young Writers Essay Competition for their essay Muscle Memory exploring music, depression, queerness, and gender discrimination over time. They are the 2024 Buxton Contemporary Art Gallery Composer in Residence and the 2024 New North Emerging Artist Commission Recipient and their upcoming musical project sampling recorded student voices ‘comma means breathe,’ is a recipient of a 2024 Peter McPhee Community Impact Grant.

Kat Muscat was a brilliant young mind of the Australian writing community, whose formidable talent was demonstrated through her incisive writing and perceptive editing. Kat was an integral part of Express Media for many years, before becoming Editor of Voiceworks from 2012 to 2014. Throughout her 10 years with Express Media, Kat helped to shape the career of young writers and editors from all around Australia.

The Kat Muscat Fellow is selected by the Custodial Committee of The Kat Muscat Legacy Projects, which includes members of Express Media’s board and staff, the Muscat family and appointed community members.

Chair of the Kat Muscat Custodial Committee, Elizabeth Flux, says:

“The Custodial Committee of the Kat Muscat Fellowship is delighted that Xiaole Zhan will be our 2024 Fellow. This year saw the Fellowship receive a record number of submissions spanning fiction, nonfiction, poetry, film and editing projects – the strength of our shortlist shows just how difficult a decision it was to make. From the outside it can look like an impossible task – how do you compare an application based around a memoir to one centred on a novel? But it’s not poetry vs editing vs nonfiction. It’s about finding the project that is right this year, put forward by someone who is filled with fire and passion for it. We were lucky to have so many strong projects put before us, and we are excited to support Zhan as they work on their essay collection Think An Empty Room, Moonly With Phoneglow.”

We congratulate Xiaole and look forward to working with them. We can’t wait to read the incredible work they will produce.

The Fellowship is made possible with the generous support of the community and the Muscat family. For information on The Kat Muscat Fellowship, find us here.


The Kat Muscat Fellowship is made possible through the generous support of our community. Please follow the link below to make a one-off or regular recurring donation to support the development of empathetic and defiant young writers and editors.