Editor Group is proud to support the Sydney Writers’ Festival again in 2019. As part of this support, we edit and proofread the program, and we are also enthusiastic attendees!
In keeping with this year’s theme of ‘Lie to Me’, many of the programmed events explore the white lies that fuel social interaction and darker, more malicious deceptions. The program showcases topical issues, from the current economic and political upheaval in Europe, to the future of artificial intelligence, and whether you can still appreciate art when you discover the artist is a dreadful person.
Here are our top 20 picks for Sydney Writers’ Festival 2019. Whether you’re interested in news, politics or fiction, you’re sure to find something that appeals.
1. Opening Address: Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Max Porter and Meg Wolitzer
Authors Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Max Porter and Meg Wolitzer open the festival, by addressing the role of lies in everyday life, politics and human history.
April 30, 6.30–7.30pm, Carriageworks, Bay 17.
If you can’t attend the opening, don’t miss their individual talks. Adjei-Brenyah discusses his dystopian short story collection Friday Black, and its themes of racism and cultural unrest, with fellow writer Khalid Warsame.
May 5, 3–4pm, Carriageworks, Bay 24.
Porter, author of Grief is the Thing with Feathers, has been called one of the most daring writers of his generation. He discusses Lanny, the genre-defying novel that has cemented his reputation.
May 4, 11.30–12.30pm, Carriageworks, Bay 17.
Wolitzer talks about her novel, The Female Persuasion, which examines feminism and women’s lives since the 1970s.
May 5, 11.30–12.30pm,Carriageworks, Bay 17.
2. Trent Dalton: Boy Swallows Universe
Journalist Trent Dalton’s acclaimed debut novel Boy Swallows Universe is a moving coming-of-age story set in the violent fringes of 1980s Brisbane and based partly on his own early years. He discusses the book with fellow journalist and Brisbane local, Matthew Condon.
May 2, 11.30–12.30pm, Carriageworks, Bay 24.
3. Jane Caro: On Princess Diana
Writer and social commentator Jane Caro is one of Australia’s most renowned feminists. She also admits to a secret obsession with Princess Diana. In this session, the author of Accidental Feminists examines her long-held fascination with Britain’s late ‘Queen of Hearts’.
May 2, 11.30–12.10pm, Carriageworks, Curiosity Stage.
4. The Perfect Crime
What makes a great psychological thriller? This is the question bestselling crime authors Mark Brandi, Candice Fox and Dervla McTiernan will set out to answer in this engaging session.
May 2, 1.30–2.30pm, Carriageworks, Bay 22.
5. Class Acts: Writers on Capitalism
Millennial authors Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Caoilinn Hughes and Ling Ma reveal how they engage with the excesses of capitalism in their debut novels.
May 2, 1.30–2.30pm, Carriageworks, Bay 24.
6. Markus Zusak: Bridge of Clay
Bridge of Clay is the first book from Markus Zusak since the release of worldwide publishing phenomenon, The Book Thief, in 2005. In this session, he discusses his long-awaited family saga and (we imagine) overcoming writers’ block.
May 2, 3–4pm, Carriageworks, Bay 24.
7. Toby Walsh: 2062 – The World that AI Made
Dubbed a ‘rock star’ of the digital revolution by The Australian, Toby Walsh is one of the world’s leading authorities on artificial intelligence (AI). He discusses his new book 2062 (his prediction for when we’ll have machines as smart as humans) and how AI will transform every aspect of our lives.
May 2, 3–4pm, Carriageworks, Track 12.
8. Dead Europe?
Much of Europe is facing economic and political turmoil, from Britain’s struggle to reach agreement over Brexit, to the rise of populism in France and Germany. In this insightful session, prominent political writers Anshel Pfeffer, Ece Temulkuran and Jonathan Pearlman weigh up Europe’s future.
May 2, 3–4pm, Carriageworks, Bay 20.
9. Suffragettes, Referenda and Sausages: The History of Democracy in Australia
Political journalist, commentator and everybody’s favourite baker Annabel Crabb sits down with historians Judith Brett and Clare Wright to discuss the highs and lows of democracy’s evolution in Australia. ‘Democracy sausage’ anyone?
May 2, 4.30–5.30pm, Carriageworks, Bay 17.
10. All Your Faves Are Problematic: Can We Cancel Art?
Can we still appreciate the art of those who have been shown to be horrible people? That’s the question author Ashleigh Wilson (On Artists), ABC’s Osman Faruqi and elle.com culture editor Estelle Tang will be batting around in this timely session.
May 2, 4.30–5.30pm, Carriageworks, Track 8.
11. Jill Abramson: Merchants of Truth
The publication of Merchants of Truth, Jill Abramson’s book about the challenges facing journalism in the era of clickbait, prompted accusations of plagiarism and factual errors. In this session, the former New York Times executive editor talks about the controversy with Guardian Australia editor Lenore Taylor.
May 2, 8–9pm, Carriageworks, Bay 17.
12. No Friend but the Mountains
Detained on Manus Island in 2013, Kurdish-Iranian journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani used his mobile phone to write the lyrical memoir No Friend but the Mountains. Translated from Farsi, the book won critical acclaim and the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for Non-fiction and Literature. In this session, Boochani speaks from Manus Island, along with the book’s translator, Omid Tofighian, about literature, creativity and life in detention.
May 3, 6–7pm, Carriageworks, Bay 17.
13. The Sails
The Sydney Opera House is one of Sydney’s most recognisable landmarks and controversial building projects. Here, authors Kristina Olssen (Shell) and Helen Pitt (The House) chat with the ABC’s Sarah Macdonald about the history, cultural significance and legacy of the building.
May 3, 10–11am, Carriageworks, Track 8.
14. Leigh Sales: Any Ordinary Day
A series of near-catastrophic life events prompted Leigh Sales, host of the ABC’s 7.30, to look at how ordinary people endure unimaginable tragedy. In this insightful session, she discusses her book on the subject.
May 3, 10–11am, Carriageworks, Bay 17.
15. Can You Spot a Liar?
Everybody lies sometimes, even if it’s just to smooth social interaction (“Of course I don’t mind if you have the last Tim Tam”). But can you spot it when they do? That’s the question crime reporter Matthew Condon, investigative journalist Kate McClymont and forensic psychiatrist Dr Calum Smith will be tackling in this session.
May 3, 1.30–2.30pm, Carriageworks, Bay 20.
16. Jane Harper: The Lost Man
Author of international bestsellers The Dry and Force of Nature, Jane Harper is back to discuss her latest thrilling ‘outback noir’ novel, The Lost Man.
May 3, 3–4pm, Carriageworks, Track 8.
17. Susan Orlean: The Library Book
Love libraries? So does Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief. In this gripping session, she sits down with Jennifer Byrne to discuss The Library Book, her heart-felt account of an arson attack on the Los Angeles Public Library.
May 3, 6.30–7.30pm, City Recital Hall, Angel Place.
18. Stan Grant: Australia Day
What does it mean to be Australian? This is just one of the questions journalist Stan Grants sets out to answer in Australia Day, his very personal book about our national identity, reconciliation and the indigenous struggle for belonging.
May 3, 8–9pm, Carriageworks, Bay 17.
19. Hedley Thomas: The Teacher’s Pet
The Teacher’s Pet is a wildly popular podcast series that attracted millions of downloads globally and won reporter Hedley Thomas a Walkley Award for Investigative Journalism in 2018. In the session, Hedley takes the audience behind the scenes of his investigation, which ultimately uncovered new evidence leading to the arrest of former school teacher Chris Dawson for the murder of his wife Lynette.
May 4, 10–11am, Carriageworks, Bay 22.
20. Christian White: The Nowhere Child
A deeply unsettling page-turner, The Nowhere Child explores troubling themes including trauma, conspiracy and the unreliable nature of memory. Debut author Christian White speaks with fellow crime writer Candice Fox about the book and its international success.
May 4, 3–4pm, Carriageworks, Bay 20.
Sydney Writers’ Festival tickets are available now. To make sure you don’t miss out, visit swf.org.au.
To find out what we’re reading, check out our virtual book club.