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Kris Kneen’s Best of the Fest

Kris Kneen is the award-winning author of fiction, poetry and non-fiction, including An Uncertain Grace, which was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. They have written and directed broadcast television documentaries and were the Copyright Agency Ltd Non-fiction Fellow in 2020. Fat Girl Dancing is their latest book.

Discover the events Kneen is most looking forward to at the Festival this year and their reflections on the Festival theme, I’ve Been Away For a While. See Kneen at the Festival at Sentimental Journeys and Queering the Canon.

What are your three must-see events of the Festival?

Claire Keegan: Small Things Like These

Sat 6 May, 12pm

The Athenaeum

I recently read Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan. I was in the throes of a COVID infection and I could not focus on anything at all, then I discovered Keegan and the pain of it all melted away. I read it on audio first and was transfixed by the voice of the reader and the voice of the book. I had to go back and read the physical book to savour every perfect sentence. I am really keen to hear her in conversation with the divine Beejay Silcox.

(Currently at capacity)


Ellen van Neerven: Personal Score

Sat 6 May, 1.30pm

State Library Victoria, Village Roadshow Theatrette

I am also a big fan of Ellen van Neerven. Their poetry collections have sustained me over the past few years but nothing has come close to the excitement I felt when I first read Heat and Light. I have been longing for prose from them for years and here it comes. I have not had the pleasure of reading Personal Score yet, but as soon as it is released I am diving in. I know it will not just be a book about sport. Ellen always approaches every subject in a very personal and revealing way. Their session will be an absolute highlight.



Bernardine Evaristo: On Never Giving Up

Sun 7 May, 3pm and 6.30pm

The Capitol

Very keen to hear Bernardine Evaristo talk about Manifesto: On Never Giving Up. There have been a proliferation of books about the writer’s craft recently. Charlotte Wood, Haruki Murakami, Lee Kofman, Graeme Simsion – I lap it all up. I could talk about craft till the cows come home so this is only one of the craft-based sessions I’ll be taking notes in.

(Currently at capacity)


What have you been away from for a while?

Just before the pandemic I joined the Queensland Mycology Association. Research about mushrooms for a book I’ve been writing turned into an obsession that has hijacked my life. I went to one meeting and then the whole group went online due to lockdowns. I have only just re-joined the group, heading to their mushroom foray where me and all the other big nerds went out to look for mushrooms braving mud and leaches. I loved it.

Some people like to take long walks in nature. Turns out I like to take short walks, stopping often and looking at mushrooms. It can take an hour to walk what might be done in ten minutes but those fast-walkers miss a world of beauty along the path. It has been a while but I am looking forward to more slow mushroom forays alongside my nerdy tribe of mycologists and citizen scientists.