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"Hold on to the goodness this country offers. Because the only other option is to fall into despair and given the stakes, that’s not actually an option." – Benjamin Law What a lucky country we are – sunburnt, egalitarian, no worries. But look beyond the marketing slogan and you may start to wonder: where the bloody hell are you? In this special hig…
 
“Our transgender kids need their rights, they need access to healthcare, mental health care, they need to be cared for. But they also need boots that withstand 400 degrees because people are throwing fire at them.” – Kaya Wilson Sarah Dingle and Kaya Wilson’s memoirs explore the discovery of long-held family secrets and their resounding intergenera…
 
"Words are what she has left us. They were her glory. They must be our consolation." – Michelle de Kretser on Elizabeth Harrower When a beloved author dies, there is consolation in knowing that their books – the culminated words of a lifetime in letters – outlive them and tether us to their memory. However, the beauty of those words isn’t simply a …
 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander listeners are advised that this podcast episode contains the names of people who have died. Thomas Keneally reflects on The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith in conversation with his long-time friend, Stan Grant. Thomas’ 1972 Booker Prize–nominated story of a black man’s revenge against an unjust society, The Chant of…
 
For generations of readers, Judy Blume is an icon. Beginning in the late 1960s, her celebrated novels were formative for young readers and future writers alike. Her children’s stories, including Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, are funny, irreverent and riotous precursors to the blockbuster kids’ series of today. While her young adult books were be…
 
In an age of celebrity endorsements, book-club picks and Amazon reviews, what is the state of once-vital literary criticism? How has the importance of robust and informed evaluation changed in an ever-crowded publishing market and an online sphere where everyone is potentially a critic? In this two-part series, Sydney Review of Books editor Catrion…
 
A. C. Grayling is one of the world’s most widely read and celebrated philosophers. This year, the long-time Sydney Writers’ Festival favourite transcended the barriers of distance and the disruption of the global pandemic to join us from the UK to discuss his latest work, The Frontiers of Knowledge, with host of ABC Radio’s Conversations, Richard F…
 
Veronica Heritage-Gorrie and Kathryn Heyman share insights into their powerful memoirs of adversity and perseverance with the author of Who Gets To Be Smart, Bri Lee (and another special guest: Veronica’s grandchild). Veronica’s Black and Blue: a memoir of racism and resilience tells of her experiences as an Aboriginal police officer fighting for j…
 
Poets have been shaping societies for generations. Sometimes painfully, other times joyously reflecting back the worlds they live in and helping us make sense of who we are. In this podcast episode, hear from some of the finest working poets in Australia right now who are defining our place in the world, deepening our understanding of our relations…
 
Rachel Cusk is a true original. Her Outline Trilogy attracted acclaim and a legion of readers because it felt like something new from a voice in fiction we hadn’t heard before. Writing across fiction, memoir and essay, this award-winning chronicler of the personal is renowned for her coolly glittering prose and astute examination of women’s lives. …
 
Judith Lucy is known as a performer for her radical, even brutal honesty. Over a celebrated career as one of this country’s finest stand-ups, she’s sardonically laid herself bare in the name of laughs. But as an author she’s equally forthcoming, with her memoirs The Lucy Family Alphabet and Drink, Smoke, Pass Out both bestsellers. Now she’s back wi…
 
Lawyer Bernard Collaery faces jail for allegedly helping his former client, intelligence officer Witness K, expose Australia’s bugging of the East Timorese government to gain the upper hand during oil and gas negotiations. His ongoing legal case has been described as a grave threat to freedom of speech at home. Discussing his new book, Oil Under Tr…
 
Join three memoirists who have tackled difficult and taboo topics – ranging from grief and trauma to the challenges of motherhood and alcoholism – and found beauty, humour and even redemption by telling it exactly like it is. Lech Blaine’s Car Crash is a heart-wrenching and darkly comic story of perseverance in the face of unthinkable tragedy. Ashe…
 
One of the greatest directors of all time, George Miller AO, joins actor, writer and comedian Tim Minchin (Matilda) to discuss his formidable track record of trailblazing, record-breaking films that have defined Australian cinema. With two films in the top ten highest selling Australian films at the Australian box office (Babe, Happy Feet), and the…
 
In an age of celebrity endorsements, book-club picks and Amazon reviews, what is the state of once-vital literary criticism? How has the importance of robust and informed evaluation changed in an ever-crowded publishing market and an online sphere where everyone is potentially a critic? In this two-part series, Sydney Review of Books editor Catrion…
 
What a lucky country we are – sunburnt, egalitarian, no worries. But look beyond the marketing slogan and you may start to wonder: where the bloody hell are you? In this special highlight from the SWF Great Debate – moderated by the unsparing Jennifer Byrne – Nakkiah Lui, writer, actor and Gamillaroi/Torres Strait Islander woman, questions just how…
 
While the external assaults on journalism and newsrooms – politicised attacks on ‘fake news’ or an ‘enemy of the people’ – have a damaging effect on confidence and trust, the internal battles in mastheads and media companies are proving even more explosive. Often presented as a generational divide, questions around the role and responsibilities of …
 
Sure, heroes are great and they save the day, but what is it about a TV villain that we can’t get enough of? From Succession’s Kendall Roy and Breaking Bad’s Walter White to Veep’s Selina Meyer, the baddies tend to steal the show. Acclaimed writers Benjamin Law (The Family Law) and Melina Marchetta (Looking for Alibrandi) join The Chaser’s Chris Ta…
 
In Watsonia, decades of Don Watson’s writing – history and journalism, reflections and fragments – have been gathered together for the first time, providing a snapshot of a writer and of a nation. Rick Morton (My Year Of Living Vulnerably) joins Don to discuss the real radical position in politics, bringing back knighthoods, the republic movement, …
 
Hear two celebrated Australian writers discuss their heart-rending and lyrically drawn new novels with writer and podcaster Nicole Abadee. Globally bestselling author Nikki Gemmell offers insights into The Ripping Tree, her gripping novel of survival that examines the dark heart of early colonisation in characteristically evocative prose. Miles Fra…
 
Award-winning author Nam Le (The Boat) speaks with Rebecca Giggs about her narrative non-fiction debut Fathoms – a powerful, surprising and compelling view of some of the most urgent issues of our times. “What I love about Fathoms is its language: the wonder in it, and of it,” said Nam. “I found it a book of rare beauty and ambition.” Enjoy this po…
 
After last year’s devastating bushfires brought the climate crisis home for many Australians, calls for action were soon drowned out by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hear a panel of our sharpest minds draw focus to the growing spectre of global warming, unpack the political roadblocks and consider how to achieve real progress. Featuring journalist Paddy M…
 
Hear a panel of leading technology experts discuss the "horrifying, beautiful, wonderful, terrifying reality of big tech” (Rae Johnston). Together, they tackle questions about who owns what on the internet, the right to privacy, digital threats to democracy, Australia’s legislative showdown with Silicon Valley, the sinister impact of the algorithm …
 
Mehreen Faruqi (Too Migrant, Too Muslim, Too Loud) was the first Muslim woman to become a senator in Australia. A life-long feminist and anti-racism activist, she received the Edna Ryan Grand Stirrer Award in 2017, which recognises those who boldly challenge the status quo. Osman Faruqi is the Editor of 7am, Schwartz Media’s daily news podcast. Pre…
 
Meg Mason (Sorrow and Bliss) and Ewa Ramsey (The Morbids) wrote two of the biggest literary hits of the past twelve months, with novels acclaimed for their razor-sharp wit and canny sense of humour. Meg’s Sorrow and Bliss circles the breakdown of a marriage, retracing a history of hurts, failures and disappointments to manage a path through family …
 
Greatly missed on TV screens, the nation’s favourite film critics Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton reunite in this special conversation on Australian movie adaptations of books. The famously sparring duo settle back into their critics’ chairs to discuss and debate Neil Armfield’s Candy (starring Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish), Baz Luhrmann’s T…
 
Beloved author Christos Tsiolkas speaks with Jessie Tu about her debut novel, A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing, a story of female desire and the consequences of wanting too much and never getting it. “As soon as I started reading Jessie Tu’s A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing, it was like a drug rush,” said Christos. “I experienced what all of us…
 
If you find yourself in dire straits, whether or not you’re rescued may come down to where you are in the world. One of the great international divides, the duty to rescue others is a truly curious product of common law. Continental Europe: you’re obligated to reasonably help, no matter how late you’re running. In the UK...carry on. Throughout his …
 
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary leadership, but as the planet warms and the pandemic persists, democracies are faltering and true accountability seems somewhat lacking. Triple J Hack’s Shalailah Medhora leads a panel of renowned journalists in a conversation ranging from how governments do (and don’t) take responsibility when things go b…
 
Australia’s unofficial poet laureate Paul Kelly has spent a career putting words to – and making poetry of – our lives. His ‘mongrel memoir’ How to Make Gravy was described as “a manual on how to look at things, how to pay attention” (Australian Book Review) while his anthology Love is Strong as Death collects those poems that inspire and challenge…
 
Getting lost in a book is more than just a turn of phrase; a great read can transport us to continents and cultures far beyond our own. In lieu of travel, what books can we count on to carry us across the globe or to different times? Join a panel of renowned guests and literary travellers as they celebrate the escapist joys of reading and reveal th…
 
Exploring who you are takes a lot of courage. Yuin writer Gary Lonesborough’s first book The Boy from the Mish is a funny and big-hearted queer Indigenous young adult novel set in a rural Australian community. It’s a branch of hope extended to teenagers who think they’re alone. Benjamin Law speaks to Gary about this beautifully written story about …
 
‘Guwayu’ is a Wiradjuri word meaning ‘still and yet and for all times’. Guwayu – For All Times is a groundbreaking collection of 63 poems from 36 First Nations poets in 12 First Nations languages. Commissioned by Red Room Poetry, this collection – 16 years in the making – is an exquisite expression of living First Nations culture, with the diversit…
 
Although one in five Australians live with disability, people with disabilities remain under-represented in our literature. Growing Up Disabled in Australia is an urgent anthology of first-person stories described by The Sydney Morning Herald as “gripping the reader by the collar while pulling the rug out from under their feet”. Hear from four of t…
 
This year marks 100 years since the first woman was elected to Australian parliament. Despite significant gains for women in politics, recent history leaves us in no doubt of the volatile, hostile and harmful environment politics can be for women. The numbers in federal parliament speak for themselves, while reports of sexism and harassment abound.…
 
From 9/11 to Hurricane Sandy, we’ve seen New York weather many storms, the city an indestructible icon in our global imagination. But when COVID swept through Manhattan and surrounding boroughs, bustling restaurants, theatres, subways and sidewalks were forever changed. Renowned writer and photographer Bill Hayes has been hailed by Edmund White as …
 
Legend of theatre John Bell and stellar reporter ABC Melbourne’s Virginia Trioli come together to exchange their unique insights into leadership. John, an award-winning actor and director, and founder of Bell Shakespeare, sheds light on his new book Some Achieve Greatness: Lessons on leadership and character from Shakespeare and one of his greatest…
 
Richard Flanagan is a legend of Australian letters. His much-lauded novels are published in 42 countries. He won the Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North and the Commonwealth Prize for Gould’s Book of Fish. His latest novel, The Living Sea of Waking Dreams, offers a tender, haunting portrait of a world disappearing around us. With Lau…
 
While the climate crisis and pandemic have – in some respects – heightened our sense of the truly international nature of the challenges we face, the human consequences of global instability are too often overlooked, and the horrors faced by displaced people around the world both taken for granted and invisible. Zoe Holman (Where the Water Ends), B…
 
Norman Swan and his son Jonathan Swan are two of Australia’s most discerning and dedicated journalistic minds. Over the past year, Australian audiences have looked to Norman, renowned physician, journalist, broadcaster and host of ABC Radio National’s Health Report and ABC’s Coronacast, and Jonathan, former Sydney Morning Herald reporter and now Na…
 
After the runaway success of Sarah Krasnostein’s debut The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay & Disaster, Sarah spent time in Australia and the US talking to six extraordinary people who held fast to a belief even though it rubbed against the grain of conventional wisdom. Her research culminated in The Believer: Encounte…
 
Literature has played a significant role in the colonial imagination and the domination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Bundjalung author and Miles Franklin Award winner Melissa Lucashenko (Too Much Lip) and Yuwaalaraay musician and author Nardi Simpson (Song of the Crocodile) have a profound discussion on writing Country with Fest…
 
Australian authors Kylie Maslen, Fiona Murphy and Jacinta Parsons discuss their memoirs of living with invisible disabilities or chronic conditions and navigating the healthcare system. Kylie’s wry and incisive Show Me Where it Hurts: Living with Invisible Illness details life with chronic pain and mental illness, and was named a stand-out book of …
 
Few authors wield the skill, consistency and imagination of two-time recipient of the Booker Prize, Peter Carey. A consummate writer and keen observer of life, Peter’s novels span continents and centuries, often zeroing in on Australian identity and the cruel and complex history that formed it. His 14 books include award-winning titles such as Osca…
 
Three of Australia’s most admired and influential writers from across three generations deliver an extraordinary Opening Night Address. Miles Franklin Award winners Melissa Lucashenko (Too Much Lip) and Tara June Winch (The Yield), and debut poet and essayist Evelyn Araluen (Dropbear), reflect on literature, who gets a voice, and the ways that stor…
 
Join Annabel Crabb and Sydney Writers’ Festival Artistic Director Michael Williams for a special unveiling of the 2021 Festival program. The pair discuss this year’s Festival theme then Michael introduces the Festival’s Guest Curators, the acclaimed writers in the Opening Address, exciting new events and what he’s most looking forward to. Prepare t…
 
2020 Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart discusses his modern masterpiece, Shuggie Bain. Douglas has been compared to Alan Hollinghurst, Frank McCourt, Hanya Yanagihara and countless others, but this extraordinary debut makes it clear that he is a true original, and there is only one Shuggie Bain. Douglas is joined by Benjamin Law. This recording wa…
 
We asked some of Australia's smartest, most thoughtful, most imaginative writers to turn their thoughts to what we might reasonably expect from the next 12 months. In their areas of expertise, RN’s Health Report and Coronacast host Norman Swan, acclaimed Indigenous author Gayle Kennedy, award-winning writer Maxine Beneba Clarke, leading investigati…
 
Set across the far-flung reaches of the universe, The Old Lie, by Stella Prize–shortlisted novelist Claire G. Coleman, examines Australia’s treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander soldiers after World War II. Hailed by Gomeroi poet Alison Whittaker as “a hoot [and] a rollick through both sci-fi and speculative fiction”, The Old Lie takes…
 
The searing debut novel of one of Australia’s most lauded journalists, Act of Grace bears the same passion and political fire as Anna Krien’s non-fiction works, Night Games and Into the Woods. Told through the eyes of a returned Australian soldier, a young Indigenous woman and an Iraqi refugee formerly embroiled in the atrocities of Saddam Hussein’…
 
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