Three authors talk to Michael Williams about the challenges and consequences of writing from life. Susan Faludi (In The Darkroom) talks about her father’s life and their reconciliation after her father, Stefanie, has gender confirmation surgery. Hisham Matar (The Return) discusses the influence of his father’s disappearance on his writing, and his trip back to Libya three decades after his family’s exile. Nadja Spiegelman (I’m Supposed to Protect You from All This) talks about retracing three generations of mother–daughter relations.
Conscripted at age seven into Sudan’s brutal civil war, Deng Adut was groomed to handle an AK47 instead of a pencil. He escaped bullet wounds, atrocities and near starvation to become a lawyer, refugee advocate and NSW Australian of the Year. His memoir, Songs of a War Boy, is equally remarkable as it was written by a man who learned English by watching The Wiggles. He shares his inspiring story with Suzanne Leal.
James Shapiro is one of the world’s leading experts on Shakespeare. His latest book on the great Bard, 1606: The Year of Lear was listed among the best books of 2016 by The Wall Street Journal, The Times Supplement and The Guardian. He speaks with Tom Wright about 1606: the year that produced King Lear, Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra. In James’ deft hands, quantities of research become a brisk and animated history, as he illuminates Shakespeare’s bursts of creativity against the backdrop of a ‘troubled national mood’.
When Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author of Backlash Susan Faludi learned her estranged 76-year-old father had undergone gender confirmation surgery, she began examining the meaning of identity. Susan also analysed her enigmatic father and her own family’s haunted past. She talks to Sofija Stefanovic about In the Darkroom, in which she crossed borders – historical, political, religious and sexual – to confront the question of the age: is identity something we choose or is it something we can’t escape?
Man Booker Prize winner Paul Beatty (The Sellout) once said: ‘I wish I could say race is a construct … it’s all in our mind. But while there’s some truth to that, in the real world it’s just not the case.’ He joins celebrated writers – Anuk Arudpragasam (The Story of a Brief Marriage), Maxine Beneba Clarke (The Hate Race) and guest currator Ellen van Neerven (Comfort Food) – to discuss race in today’s literary and cultural landscape, with Roanna Gonsalves (The Permanent Resident) as moderator.
This year, in a surge of global outrage at the election of Donald Trump, millions of women filled the streets in the largest single-day demonstrations in history. In the literary world, too, women are making noise. Jan Fran talks to important voices on the front line of feminist writing. Yassmin Abdel-Magied (Yassmin’s Story), Clementine Ford (Fight Like A Girl) and Tracey Spicer (The Good Girl Stripped Bare) discuss taking action and writing for change.
In books such as Joe Cinque’s Consolation and The Children’s Bach Helen Garner has built a reputation as one of Australia’s most adept and admired authors. Now, Bernadette Brennan has delved into Garner’s 40-year career with A Writing Life, surveying the events that influenced her artful prose. This panel assembles an all-star cast of Garner admirers – political commentator Annabel Crabb (The Wife Drought), columnist Benjamin Law (The Family Law), and author Fiona McFarlane (The High Places), alongside Bernadette and moderator Rebecca Giggs.
For more than 40 years, Henry Marsh’s job has been to ‘slice into the brain, the most complex structure we know of in the universe, where everything that makes us human is contained’. Henry has written a searing, provocative and deeply personal memoir, Admissions: A Life in Brain Surgery, reflecting on life on the surgical front line, including pioneering the awake craniotomy procedure in Albania and Nepal. Sofija Stefanovic interviews Henry about the difficulties of a profession that deals in probabilities rather than certainties.
When Hisham Matar was 19, his father was kidnapped in Cairo and taken to a prison in Libya. Hisham never saw him again. His unflinching memoir, The Return, charts his search for clues to his father’s fate. Author Peter Carey called the book ‘a triumph of art over tyranny’. Hisham talks to Fairfax literary editor Jason Steger about how his search was both an attempt to reconcile his loss and a harrowing journey into history, politics, art and the brutal legacy of corrupted power.
Award-winning writer and artist Lauren Child makes her first appearance at Sydney Writers’ Festival. Lauren cracks the code on her artistic style and quirky characters, including Clarice Bean, Ruby Redfort, and Charlie and Lola. Find out how they manage to navigate a world full of annoying siblings, gross vegetables and challenging mysteries while still being some of the funniest kids ever. You’d be as silly as Sizzles to miss out on a session with this bestselling author!
Ready to roll on the floor laughing? Rock star writer Andy Griffiths is back with his side-splitting antics and topsy-turvy tales. One of Australia’s bestselling children’s authors, Andy has written more than 30 books, including the JUST! series, The Day My Bum Went Psycho, The Bad Book and the Treehouse series. With the next instalment of Treehouse due later this year, you might even get a sneak peek at the crazy ideas planned for your favourite treetop hideaway.
Aged five, Saroo Brierley got lost on a train in India and couldn’t find his way home. After wandering the streets of Kolkata, he was taken to an orphanage and finally adopted by an Australian couple. As a young man, he used Google Earth to pore over satellite images, looking for familiar landmarks. After years of searching, he found what he was looking for. His story, A Long Way Home, is now the award-winning film Lion. In a very special event, Saroo and his adoptive mother Sue Brierley talk to Janice Petersen.
Fight Like a Girl is a personal and fearless call to arms by feminist writer and scourge of trolls and misogynists everywhere, Clementine Ford. Her incendiary debut is for feminists new, old and soon-to-be, exposing just how unequal the modern world is for women. An invitation to rediscover the fury suppressed by society, Fight Like a Girl pushes back against a world that still considers feminism a threat. In conversation with Jane Caro.