Our pick of Sydney Writers’ Festival 2024

Editor Group is a proud supporter of the Sydney Writers’ Festival. And with 197 events – more than a third of them free – there’s something for everyone. Here are our top picks.
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Editor Group is a proud supporter of the Sydney Writers’ Festival. As in previous years, we’ve edited and proofread the full program, and we’re looking forward to attending the festival in May.

After being pared down during the COVID years, the festival is back in full swing this year with the theme ‘Take Me Away’. In the words of artistic director Ann Mossop, it brings together “writers of the everyday and the fantastical, writers of dazzling fictions, magical words, captivating life stories and sweeping accounts of history and ideas”. And with 197 events – more than a third of them free – there’s something for everyone. Here are our top picks of the Sydney Writers’ Festival program.

The Gene Editing Revolution with Jennifer Doudna

Tuesday 21 May, 7:00–8:30 pm – Sydney Opera House, Concert Hall

Jennifer Doudna won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020 and is Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Berkeley. Her discovery of a molecular tool known as CRISPR-Cas9 in 2012 provided the foundation for gene editing, and has led to advances in genome modification in humans, a controversial topic.

Yumna Kassab: Politica

Wednesday 22 May, 6:00–7:00pm – PHIVE, 5 Parramatta Square

Novelist and short fiction writer, and the inaugural Parramatta Laureate in Literature, Yumna was born and raised in Western Sydney. She talks about her latest book, Politica, which she describes as an imaginary history for the Arab world, and her love for her city, Parramatta, and her football club.

Sarah Ogilvie: The Dictionary People

Thursday 23 May, 12:30–1:30pm – State Library of NSW, Library Auditorium

World-leading lexicographer and linguist Sarah Ogilvie talks to Phillipa McGuinness about her book on the origins of the Oxford English Dictionary and the people who helped shape and define the English language. Definitely one for fans of The Dictionary of Lost Words. Free event.

Abraham Verghese: The Covenant of Water

Thursday 23 May, 5:00–6:00pm – Carriageworks, Bay 20, The ARA Stage

Abraham Verghese is an American physician, author, Professor of the Theory and Practice of Medicine, and Vice Chair of Education at Stanford University Medical School. His novel, Covenant of Water, has spent six months on The New York Times bestseller list. He is joined by host Roanna Gonsalves to discuss the marriage of medicine and literature.

Firetalk

Thursday 23 May, 6:30–7:30pm – Carriageworks, Blacksmith’s Workshop

Join First Nations storytellers by the fireside (an actual fire!) as they spin some yarns – the perfect backdrop for an autumn evening. With acclaimed First Nations short story writers Tony Birch, Hannah Donnelly, Laniyuk, Enoch Mailangi and Melanie Saward. Also a free event.

Bankstown Poetry Slam

Thursday 23 May, 7:30–8:30 pm – Carriageworks, Track 12

For the first time, Bankstown Poetry Slam is hosting its regular monthly slam at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Slam artists can sign up 15 minutes before the event for the chance to compete.

A.C. Grayling: The meaning of Life in a Technological Age

Friday 24 May, 10:00–11:00 am – Carriageworks, Bay 17

Philosopher and author Anthony Clifford Grayling looks at how we can pursue the answers to life’s big questions in a world that feels increasingly unstable thanks to big tech and AI. He is a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford, and the author of more than 30 books of philosophy, biography, history of ideas, human rights and ethics.

Nam Le: 36 Ways of Writing a Vietnamese Poem

Friday 24 May, 3:00–4:00pm – Carriageworks, Bay 19

Nam Le, author of the award-winning collection of stories, The Boat, discusses his poetry debut with poet and critic Felicity Plunkett.

Richard Flanagan and Anna Funder on Writing

Friday 24 May, 6:00–7:00 pm – City Recital Hall

Booker Prize winner Richard Flanagan and Miles Franklin winner Anna Funder examine their genre-bending novels and the craft of writing with historian Clare Wright.

Paul Lynch: Prophet Song

Friday 24 May, 8:00–9:00 pm – City Recital Hall

The 2023 Booker Prize winner talks to Michael Williams, director of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne, about his dystopian novel set in Ireland’s near future. Described by the Booker Prize judges as one “to remind us of all that is worth saving”, Paul’s fifth novel is a haunting read.

Dark Technologies: Exposing the Technology of Modern Warfare

Sunday 26 May, 3:30pm–4:30pm – Carriageworks, Track 8

Journalist Antony Loewenstein and AI expert Toby Walsh examine the intersection between technology, conflict, occupation and surveillance. Antony won a Walkley for his investigation The Palestine Laboratory: How Israel Exports the Technology of Occupation Around the World. Toby’s latest book, Faking It! Artificial Intelligence in a Human World, looks at how AI impersonates human intelligence.

Closing Address: Kate Manne on the Future of Misogyny

Sunday 26 May, 5:30–6:30pm – Carriageworks, Bay 17

Kate Manne is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Cornell University and is hailed ‘the philosopher of #MeToo’ following her first book Down Girl, an exploration and analysis of misogyny. She has since written two more books, Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women and Unshrinking: How to Face Fatphobia. In this address, she looks at what recent activism has changed and what the future of misogyny might look like.

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