Eva Sallis is the daughter of Richard Hornung, who was born in Palestine to a German family, and his wife Briar (Mitcalfe) who was born in New Zealand. She has five brothers and three sisters, many of whom are professional musicians.
Sallis has an MA (1991, on the poetry of T. S. Eliot and the philosophy of F. H. Bradley) and a PhD (1996) on the various versions of the 1001 Nights, both from the University of Adelaide. She has published several academic articles and reviews, and a book of literary criticism, Sheherazade Through the Looking Glass: The Metamorphosis of the 1001 Nights (Curzon, UK 1999). She has a working knowledge of German, French and Arabic and has travelled many times to the Middle East, furthering Arabic studies. She travels regularly to Yemen, in particular. Sallis has been awarded a number of grants and awards for her work, including an ArtsSA Emerging Artists Grant in 1998 and an AustralianCouncil Literature Fund grant in 2000.
Since 1989 Sallis has worked at times in all three South Australian universities; researching, tutoring and lecturing mainly in English, but also in Communication and the Media, and in Arab Culture and Architecture. In 1997 she co-founded the assessment service Driftwood Manuscripts.
In 2008, Sallis reverted to her maiden name, Eva Hornung.
The Marsh Birds2005single work novel 'Dhurgham As-Samarra'i is a twelve-year-old boy, the youngest child in a middle-class Baghdadi family. He finds himself at the Great Mosque in Damascus in Syria, not knowing what has happened to his parents and sister who fled Baghdad with him. The only thing he knows is that he was told that if the family became separated they were to meet at the Mosque. Alone, he waits and waits.
This is the story of what befalls Dhurgham after he realises his family won't be turning up; it is the story of his journey into adulthood, his journey through bitterness to forgiveness, and his journey from Iraq to Syria, to Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and beyond.
Detained after arriving in Australia, Dhurgham, resilient yet unable to deal with his past, becomes an untried criminal existing in limbo as his file is processed. Fleetingly, New Zealand offers a refuge, family and affection but he is caught again in a nightmare of red-tape and confinement until his hope turns into anger and his past must be faced and resolved.
What do you do when you belong nowhere, with no family, no homeland, and no hope for the future? Who do you become?' (Source: publisher website.)
Mahjar : A Novel2003single work novel Zein, Farhan, Rayya and their circle are migrants of the fifties, yearning for both their future and their past. Their children, Salah, Rima, Hussein and their friends are young Australians with a distinctive voice and place succeeding or failing in the clash between generations, struggling for independence in the face of their parents' hopes and dreams. Abd al-Rahman is an Iraqi refugee who has lost everything. And Ali, Ahmad, Akram and Yusuf are children in Palestine and Baghdad who have no future, but whose stories soar.
Mahjar is about lives, journeys and stories, about exile and the experiences that push people to new homelands. Through interwoven stories and fables it evokes Australia's intimate connection with the Middle East. (Source: Back cover)