Need help tackling Sydney Writers Festival’s incredible program? Take a cue from the woman behind the programming, Michaela McGuire. Here, she shares her top picks.
Brit Bennett’s The Mothers was one of the most dazzling debuts of the past year, a luminous and wise story of young love and friendship, and a big secret in a small town. She’ll appear in conversation with Abigail Ulman (another favourite author of mine) to discuss writing complex characters and provocative issues.
Four months into Donald Trump’s presidency, some of the world’s finest minds will come together to attempt to explain what the current state of play is. Slate editor-in-chief Julia Turner will lead a not-to-be-missed discussion with acclaimed authors George Saunders, Colson Whitehead and data editor of The Guardian US Mona Chalabi.
Festival Guest Curator Ellen van Neerven has designed a series of events that examine sacrifice, and this session will explore how writers and artists should respond to the intersecting issues around climate change, water rights and refugees.
One of the biggest books of the past year, and winner of the National Book award, Colson Whitehead’s seventh book counts Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey among its many fans. Moonlight director Barry Jenkins will adapt this extraordinary and affecting novel into a one-hour drama series for Amazon.
Another of this year’s Guest Curators is Peter Polites, who’s debut Down the Hume is a queer noir, set squarely in his native Western Sydney. Peter’s one of the most exciting writers of the moment, and it’s a real treat to hear his note-perfect dialogue, that weaves snatches of slang, Greek and the migrant milieu of outer Sydney seamlessly together, read aloud.
In this special event, some of the festival’s most celebrated guests will discuss intimate and varied influences, offering an insight into what shaped them as writers and informed some of today’s important literary works. The international lineup features Robert Dessaix, Hannah Kent, Ian Rankin and Joy Williams.
Krissy Kneen is one of Australia’s most inventive (and prolific) authors. The leaps she makes between each new book are hugely impressive, and she’s built a career on upending a reader’s assumptions about erotic fiction. Her latest novel interweaves five stories of speculative fiction, taking you on an adventure through time, space and sexuality and provoking questions of what it means to be human.
In times of enormous social and political upheaval, the role of artists and writers becomes even more important. Slate’s movie critic Dana Stevens talks to Hisham Matar (acclaimed author of The Return), Nadja Spiegelman (I’m Supposed to Protect You from All This) and editor of Teen Vogue Elaine Welteroth about resistance through art.
Mona Chalabi is the Data Editor of The Guardian US and a columnist at New York Magazine where she writes a regular advice column called “Dear Mona” which answers readers’ questions about anything from jury service to dating habits using numbers rather than personal experience. In this illustrated talk, Mona will bring hard facts to the global immigration debate, to help us understand the actual risks migrants pose, and their potential contribution to society.
After a week of conversations about the various terrible forces that compel us to seek refuge, we thought it wise to end the Festival on a hopeful note. In this special event, some of the Festival’s most distinguished guests reveal personal tips for these anxiety-inducing times; from chicken soup to Valium. Sofija Stefanovic will talk to Bill Hayes, Ha Jin, Hisham Matar, Pamela Paul and Ruth Quibell about remedies for chaos.
See the full program of Sydney Writers Festival.