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Society & Culture

Sydney Writers' Festival

Updated 9 days ago

Society & Culture
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Australia's largest celebration of literature, stories and ideas. Bringing together the world's best authors, leading public intellectuals, scientists, journalists and more.

Read more

Australia's largest celebration of literature, stories and ideas. Bringing together the world's best authors, leading public intellectuals, scientists, journalists and more.

iTunes Ratings

3 Ratings
Average Ratings
2
1
0
0
0

iTunes Ratings

3 Ratings
Average Ratings
2
1
0
0
0
Cover image of Sydney Writers' Festival

Sydney Writers' Festival

Latest release on Jan 12, 2020

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Australia's largest celebration of literature, stories and ideas. Bringing together the world's best authors, leading public intellectuals, scientists, journalists and more.

Rank #1: The Right Way Up: Populism in Australia

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While most think of Australia as a successful democracy underpinned by liberal values, it’s increasingly clear that we may not be immune from the global rise of xenophobic and nativist forces. Some are concerned that populism is pulling the Liberal Party and sections of our media to the right and will have implications for years to come. Associate Professor David Blaazer speaks with The Rise of the Right author and one-time Liberal Party adviser Greg Barns, writer for the ABC and Guardian Australia Jennine Khalik, former Greens senator Scott Ludlam and political writer George Megalogenis about the issue.

Jan 06 2020

1hr

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Rank #2: “I Do Not Want to See This in Print”

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Annabel Crabb talks to a panel of insiders about the fraught and sensitive relationship between politicians and the press. How do journalists ensure accurate reporting while cultivating sources? How do they navigate porous concepts like ‘on background’ and ‘off the record’? And how symbiotic is the relationship between politicians wanting airtime and reporters looking for a sound bite? Featuring 2018 Walkley Award winner Sharri Markson, veteran political reporter Samantha Maiden and The Australian columnist and Road to Ruin author Niki Savva.

Jul 15 2019

55mins

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Rank #3: Anabel Hernández: A Massacre in Mexico

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Investigative reporter Anabel Hernández risked her life securing access to internal documents and surveillance footage to write her gripping exposé that implicates the most powerful people in Mexico. A Massacre in Mexico is the definitive account of one of the country’s most shocking flashpoints: the kidnap and suspected murder of 43 student activists and the subsequent cover-up that stunned a nation. Anabel appears in conversation with ABC Radio’s Philip Clark.

Jun 11 2019

54mins

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Rank #4: Inside Stories

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Literary star Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah and acclaimed author of The Flamethrowers Rachel Kushner didn’t shy away from taking on big issues – inequality, racism and a faulty justice system – in their fearless bestselling books: Friday Black and The Mars Room. They speak with the National Book Foundation’s Lisa Lucas to discuss the influence and scope of storytelling and how fiction can be used to connect readers to real-world issues.

Dec 11 2019

1hr 1min

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Rank #5: George Saunders in Conversation with Paul Holdengräber

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A master of modern fiction, Man Booker Prize winner George Saunders sits down with Paul Holdengräber, the revered interviewer who George has called “one of the most brilliant minds in America, or anywhere”, to share insights into his life and genre-bending body of work, and discuss the state of contemporary literature and it's relationship to empathy, politics and power.

Jun 27 2019

55mins

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Rank #6: Max Porter: Lanny

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Max Porter fortifies his reputation as one of the most daring writers of his generation with Lanny. Dripping with the anarchy, humour and enchantment readers will recognise from his acclaimed novel Grief is the Thing with FeathersLanny is an astonishing tapestry of fabulism and domestic drama. Following on from his astounding Opening Address, Max talks with Wheeler Centre Director Michael Williams about his pulse-racing warning about what we stand to lose and a hymn to everything we will never fully understand.

Jul 03 2019

58mins

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Rank #7: Women's Work

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By calling out the ‘slut-shaming’ she received from male parliamentarians, Senator and En Garde author Sarah Hanson-Young sparked a national conversation about sexism in politics. So, what happens when women work together to make change? Kate Wild explores the topic with Sarah Hanson-Young, Accidental Feminist author Jane Caro, and author of Witches Sam George-Allen, in an exploration of workplaces, industries and social groups that dismantles the myth of female isolation.

Aug 11 2019

51mins

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Rank #8: All the Rage

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Two of today’s leading feminist voices and international standouts of this year’s Festival, Brittney Cooper (Eloquent Rage) and Rebecca Traister (Good and Mad) join Santilla Chingaipe to celebrate the power of women’s rage as a galvanising force. Canvassing the history of women mobilising in transformative political movements – from suffrage to civil rights and the fault lines exposed more recently by the #MeToo movement – they make a call to anger between allies, reminding us that when harnessed, righteous fury can change history.

Jul 15 2019

1hr 6mins

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Rank #9: Fatima Bhutto: The Runaways

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The Runaways is an electrifying novel by Fatima Bhutto exploring facets of Pakistani society and Muslim identity in the modern world. The bestselling author joins ABC’s Eleanor Hall to discuss her illuminating exploration of turbulent times, the pressures for non-Westerners to adopt 'a global self', and the contemporary forces fuelling radicalism.

Jun 11 2019

1hr 22mins

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Rank #10: Andrew Sean Greer: Less

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2018 Pulitzer Prize winner Andrew Sean Greer takes to the stage with David Marr to discuss Less, the story of an abruptly single novelist who embarks on an odyssey through New York, Paris, Berlin, Morocco, India and Kyoto, but finds he cannot outrun his problems. Andrew sheds light on his brilliantly witty and wistful satire of the literary world and the midlife crisis, which has been praised by The New York Times as "no less than bedazzling".

Jun 11 2019

51mins

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Rank #11: Oyinkan Braithwaite: My Sister, the Serial Killer

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A darkly comic page-turner, My Sister, the Serial Killer by Nigerian author Oyinkan Braithwaite is one of the most talked-about novels of the year and was longlisted for the Booker Prize. It's a tale of two sisters – one an enabler, and the other in the middle of a killing spree – that subverts roman noir and sisterhood tropes. The New York Times calls it “a bombshell of a book – sharp, explosive, hilarious”. Oyinkan chats with Rebecca Harkins-Cross.

Oct 15 2019

54mins

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Rank #12: Beth Macy: Dopesick

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An instant New York Times bestseller, Dopesick is author and journalist Beth Macy’s masterful, fast-paced account of America’s battle with opioid addiction. Through unsparing yet deeply human portraits, Beth gives a human face to those affected in both struggling communities and wealthy suburbs. Beginning with a single dealer who lands in a small Virginia town and sets about turning high school football stars into heroin overdose statistics, Beth endeavors to answer a grieving mother’s questions about why her only son died.

In conversation with The Monthly's US Correspondent Richard Cooke, Beth discusses how overtreatment with painkillers became the norm in America’s medical culture, the drug company at the centre of it all – Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin – who earlier this year agreed to pay US$270M to avoid going to trial over its role in the opioid addiction epidemic, and how this crisis might be reversed.

Oct 01 2019

52mins

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Rank #13: Graeme Simsion: The Rosie Result

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The Rosie Result is the triumphant final instalment of the internationally bestselling and much-loved Rosie trilogy by Graeme Simsion. This time, Don and Rosie have returned to Australia with a son who is struggling to fit in at school. Don enacts a plan to help, all the while contending with the Genetics Lecture Outrage, Rosie’s troubles at work and the opening of the world’s best cocktail bar. Simsion talks about the eagerly awaited finale of his hugely successful series with ABC RN’s Claire Nichols.

Aug 27 2019

1hr

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Rank #14: An Evening with Antony Beevor

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Pre-eminent British historian and one of the greatest chroniclers of the Second World War, Antony Beevor discusses his outstanding body of work, including his latest release, Arnhem. Antony served in the 11th Hussars before writing four novels and 12 books of non-fiction (including the gripping Stalingrad). His talent as a historian and storyteller have positioned him as Britain's number one bestselling historian, earned him countless awards, and a knighthood. He’s introduced by Kate Evans and talks about his gripping, authoritative works of military history – elucidating his superbly written and forensically researched account of the failed Allied paratroopers’ campaign to seize bridges leading to the Rhine in 1944, as detailed in his new bestseller. 

Aug 06 2019

55mins

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Rank #15: Know Your Place: The Politics of Identity

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Fatima Bhutto (The Runaways) and Elaine Castillo (America Is Not the Heart) have both supercharged literature with their nuanced, layered and passionate responses to questions of belonging. They join Roanna Gonsalves to discuss how the exploration of geopolitics and history in their work – in a global context, and closer to home – can be unwittingly reduced to ‘identity’, even though it’s far more complex and interesting than that.

Oct 22 2019

59mins

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Rank #16: Alexander Chee: How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

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Reckoning with his identity as a Korean–American, gay man, activist and artist, Alexander Chee examines everything from his father’s death to the AIDS crisis to moonlighting as a Tarot reader in his non-fiction essay collection, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel. Join the author described as "masterful" by Roxane Gay and "incendiary" by The New York Times as he discusses his commanding, heartbreaking and wry work with Ronnie Scott.

Nov 11 2019

1hr

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Rank #17: Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah: Friday Black

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A surreal and startling short story collection tackling racism and cultural unrest, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s Friday Black heralds the arrival of a thrilling new literary star. George Saunders describes this instant bestseller as “an excitement and wonder” while The New York Times praises it as “an unbelievable debut”. Khalid Warsame joins Nana Kwame to discuss his unstinting reckoning with the brutal prejudice of the US justice system, the horrors of consumerism and the toll it takes on us all. 

Nov 05 2019

1hr

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Rank #18: Bri Lee: Eggshell Skull

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Bri Lee entered a Queensland court as a bright-eyed judge’s associate. Two years later she returned as a sexual assault complainant in her own case. Helen Garner praises Bri’s award-winning account of her journey through the legal system, Eggshell Skull, as “scorching, self-scouring... a young woman finds her steel and learns to wield it”. Discussing her eloquent memoir with Guardian Australia’s Editor Lenore Taylor, Bri discusses what it means to be a woman in our justice system, taking control of her own story, and the rife inequality each step of the way.

Nov 05 2019

57mins

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Rank #19: Gillian Triggs: Speaking Up

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In her memoir Speaking Up, former president of the Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs writes candidly about the relentless political pressure and media scrutiny she endured as a result of telling the truth about children in offshore detention. Joined by Clare Wright, she offers her insights into Australian democracy, human rights and the law, and expands on the passionately argued memoir that reads as a clarion call to everyone who believes in a fairer world.

Nov 05 2019

56mins

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Rank #20: The Millennial Condition

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Millennials have been blamed for everything from the death of the nine-to-five work week to the decline of the diamond industry. Delve beyond the facile headlines with three exuberant and incisive millennial writers as they share insights into the complexities and challenges of their generation. They give their takes on work, home, the economy, bodies and art. Featuring poet, educator and researcher Evelyn Araluen, Caoilinn Hughes (Orchid and the Wasp) and Fiona Wright (The World Was Whole) in conversation with Lifted Brow and Brow Books publisher Sam Cooney.

Nov 26 2019

59mins

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Lisa Lucas: On Why Literary Awards Do (And Sometimes Don’t) Matter – Curiosity Lecture Series

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From the Oscars and the Grammys to international book awards, the decisions – and ethics – behind accolades are a constant topic of debate. As Executive Director of the organisation behind America’s prestigious National Book Awards, Lisa Lucas has thought about these issues more than most. Join her for a compelling talk on the challenges of measuring success, committing to real cultural change when it comes to diversity and inclusion, and the relationship between literary excellence and literary popularity.

Jan 12 2020

46mins

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Zoya Patel: On Token Ethnic Friends in Pop Culture – Curiosity Lecture Series

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Acclaimed No Country Woman author Zoya Patel takes a dive into the enduring cultural phenomenon of the ‘token ethnic friend’. She examines how the entertainment industry continues to pay lip-service to diversity, looking through the lens of characters of colour including Lane Kim from Gilmore Girls and Dionne from Clueless. She also looks at how, when the tables are flipped in movies like Bend it Like Beckham, a white cast member can be afforded more screen time and agency.

Jan 12 2020

31mins

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Bryan Washington: On Murakami – Curiosity Lecture Series

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One of America’s newest literary stars, Bryan Washington (Lot) looks to Haruki Murakami and other modern storytellers to explore how surreal elements enrich the narratives of everyday life and magnify its strangeness. He connects Murakami’s structurally loose novels (Kafka on the Shore) and those where he keeps a steady hand (Norwegian Wood) with contemporary stories on page and screen. He particularly focuses on those stories with minority protagonists – including Atlanta and Coco – where fantastical elements add feeling and weight.

Jan 12 2020

34mins

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Kerry O’Brien: A Memoir

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Kerry O’Brien, A Memoir is an honest and intimate account of the upheavals and personalities who made history during Kerry’s five-decade journalistic career. It includes memorable encounters with everyone from Thatcher to Obama, reflections on the 13 prime ministers he has seen come and go, and insights into the powerful people he called to account without fear or favour. In conversation with ABC Radio’s Philip Clark, Kerry discusses the greatest joys and toughest moments of his career, and appraises the state of play in Canberra today.

Jan 06 2020

1hr

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Matters of Fact

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In an age of untruth, facts have become more valuable than ever before. But what kind of work goes into making sure facts are right, who do reporters, writers and editors turn to, and how do they verify the reliability of sources? Furthermore, where should the line be drawn between fact and fable when history is fictionalised on page and screen? Journalist Kate Wild gets to the heart of matters with RMIT ABC Fact Check Director Russell Skelton, bestselling historian Antony Beevor and writer and filmmaker Anna Broinowski.

Jan 06 2020

57mins

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The Right Way Up: Populism in Australia

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While most think of Australia as a successful democracy underpinned by liberal values, it’s increasingly clear that we may not be immune from the global rise of xenophobic and nativist forces. Some are concerned that populism is pulling the Liberal Party and sections of our media to the right and will have implications for years to come. Associate Professor David Blaazer speaks with The Rise of the Right author and one-time Liberal Party adviser Greg Barns, writer for the ABC and Guardian Australia Jennine Khalik, former Greens senator Scott Ludlam and political writer George Megalogenis about the issue.

Jan 06 2020

1hr

Play

Inside Stories

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Literary star Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah and acclaimed author of The Flamethrowers Rachel Kushner didn’t shy away from taking on big issues – inequality, racism and a faulty justice system – in their fearless bestselling books: Friday Black and The Mars Room. They speak with the National Book Foundation’s Lisa Lucas to discuss the influence and scope of storytelling and how fiction can be used to connect readers to real-world issues.

Dec 11 2019

1hr 1min

Play

Dunya Mikhail: The Beekeeper of Sinjar

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The Beekeeper of Sinjar by Iraqi journalist Dunya Mikhail is the deeply moving real-life account of an Iraqi honey trader who used his regional knowledge to help liberate Yazidi women enslaved by ISIS. Dunya weaves together recent tales of near-impossible escapes with her own experience of exile. A former journalist at The Baghdad Observer and winner of the UN Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing, Dunya talks to SBS’s Janice Petersen to reflect on a remarkable story that offers a hopeful counterpoint to terror and hatred.

Dec 11 2019

52mins

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Ian Parker: The Talented Dan Mallory

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Earlier this year, New Yorker writer Ian Parker published his viral investigation into the lies and deceptions – involving sickness, death and fake collaborations – shadowing Dan Mallory, the book editor who penned the bestselling debut thriller The Woman in the Window under the pseudonym A.J. Finn. Ian talks with Walkley Award–winning journalist Malcolm Knox about piecing together his article, the relationship between truthfulness and fiction, and the uncomfortable questions Mallory’s ascent raises about the publishing industry. 

Dec 11 2019

59mins

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Helen Garner's Diaries

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It is not surprising that Helen Garner has kept a diary for almost all of her life – chronicling her thoughts, observations, frustrations and joys. Beginning in the late 1970s, following the publication of Monkey Grip, these accounts of her everyday life invite us into the world behind her celebrated work. In this special podcast, hear Helen in conversation with Michael Williams for an intimate insight into the mind of one of our greatest writers.

Dec 05 2019

1hr

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Outside Voices

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Award-winning journalist Rebecca Traister (Good and Mad) and bestselling novelist Meg Wolitzer (The Wife and The Female Persuasion) have contributed to important conversations about women’s lives and feminism through their acclaimed works. They are joined by Lisa Lucas to discuss the evolving articulation of female empowerment on the page and why once unsung and sidelined stories of female strength, friendship and mentorship are newly popular today.

Dec 04 2019

1hr 3mins

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Huge Mood: Feelings and Politics in a Divided Age

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In these turbulent times, instincts and emotions seem to occupy an ever-expanding corner of our political world. In this podcast, a panel of globally respected thinkers consider why many people now rely on feelings more than facts, the shifting ideologies of our times and how people’s beliefs can (or can’t) be changed in a divided age. Featuring William Davies (Nervous States), Eleanor Gordon-Smith (Stop Being Reasonable) and Jeff Sparrow (Trigger Warnings) with The Guardian’s Bridie Jabour.

Dec 04 2019

54mins

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Ece Temelkuran: How to Lose a Country

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One of Europe’s most respected political thinkers, Turkish journalist Ece Temelkuran discusses How to Lose a Country: The 7 Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship, a field guide to spotting the insidious patterns and mechanisms of a rising populist wave, in conversation with Sally Warhaft. Weaving memoir, history and argument, she delivers an impassioned warning that populism and nationalism creep into government rather than arriving fully formed, while identifying the tools to root them out. This podcast is for anyone who thinks it couldn’t happen here.

Nov 27 2019

58mins

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Trolling in the Deep

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Benjamin Law talks with three reporters who have each been the victim of online trolling about the rise of cyberhate. ABC’s Osman Faruqi, Troll Hunting author Ginger Gorman and Guardian Australia’s Jennine Khalik each share their stories, examine the mindset and motivations of cyberbullies, discuss the rise of ‘doxxing’ (publishing private information about somebody) and reflect on a cohort of mostly angry young white men who have emerged from websites like 4Chan and Reddit to spread their animus in increasingly coordinated ways.

Nov 26 2019

1hr 3mins

Play

The Millennial Condition

Podcast cover
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Millennials have been blamed for everything from the death of the nine-to-five work week to the decline of the diamond industry. Delve beyond the facile headlines with three exuberant and incisive millennial writers as they share insights into the complexities and challenges of their generation. They give their takes on work, home, the economy, bodies and art. Featuring poet, educator and researcher Evelyn Araluen, Caoilinn Hughes (Orchid and the Wasp) and Fiona Wright (The World Was Whole) in conversation with Lifted Brow and Brow Books publisher Sam Cooney.

Nov 26 2019

59mins

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Trial by Fire

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Chloe Hooper and Susan Orlean join Matthew Condon to share their insights into the dark logic of arson, and how they reconciled confusion and culpability in piecing together portraits of maddeningly elusive subjects. Chloe’s The Arsonist investigates the bullied loner who lit two of the Black Saturday fires. Susan’s The Library Book examines the prime suspect of the devastating 1986 Los Angeles Public Library fire, a handsome drifter who yearned for stardom.

Nov 19 2019

59mins

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Richard Glover: The Land Before Avocado

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The Land Before Avocado is Richard Glover’s uproarious and anti-nostalgic portrait of Australia in the 60s and 70s. Described by Annabel Crabb as a “hilarious and horrifying intergenerational conversation starter”, The Land Before Avocado vividly charts the shortcomings of the Australia that baby boomers like Richard grew up in. In this special podcast, the ABC Radio Sydney host and Fairfax columnist discusses his warm, witty and wise look at how we used to be and how far we’ve come.

Nov 19 2019

1hr

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Class Acts: Writers on Capitalism

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Two of the Festival’s most exciting millennial authors explore how their darkly funny, profoundly moving debut works engage with the excesses of late capitalism. Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s stinging satire Friday Black dissects the dehumanising forces of capitalism and racism in America. Ireland’s Caoilinn Hughes examines art, privilege and the meritocracy myth in her hilarious and anarchic Orchid and the Wasp. In conversation with Peter Polites.

Nov 19 2019

57mins

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Rachel Kushner: The Mars Room

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From the bestselling author of The Flamethrowers comes the Man Booker Prize shortlisted The Mars Room, an unflinching portrait of a young woman’s life in a Californian prison where inmates must hustle and fight for the bare necessities. Rachel Kushner discusses her fearless black comedy about love, friendship and the illusion of free will with Wheeler Centre Director Michael Williams.

Nov 11 2019

59mins

Play

Alexander Chee: How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

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Reckoning with his identity as a Korean–American, gay man, activist and artist, Alexander Chee examines everything from his father’s death to the AIDS crisis to moonlighting as a Tarot reader in his non-fiction essay collection, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel. Join the author described as "masterful" by Roxane Gay and "incendiary" by The New York Times as he discusses his commanding, heartbreaking and wry work with Ronnie Scott.

Nov 11 2019

1hr

Play

iTunes Ratings

3 Ratings
Average Ratings
2
1
0
0
0