We know the choice can be overwhelming, so we did the rounds in the MWF office to gather some of our staff’s suggestions of the events not to miss.
Jo (Program Manager) recommends:
As Program Manager, picking a favourite event is a bit like choosing a favourite child. But here are just a few of the events I’m most looking forward to…
As a person on the autism spectrum with an ASD son, Steve Silberman’s NeuroTribes is the book I’ve been waiting for forever, telling the story of how autism has been defined, received and lived over the past century, and redefining it as a difference rather than a defect. I’m excited to hear him talk about his research and ideas in The Future of Neurodiversity, and almost as excited that other people will hear his message and change their thinking about autism.
George Packer’s The Unwinding chronicles American decline over the past 30 years, through the rise and decline of institutions and the experience of individuals, from a Washington political consultant to a farmer. It provides a fascinating context for what’s happening in the US now, with Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders as unlikely presidential hopefuls. I can’t wait to hear him talk to Don Watson, whose writing on America I adore, about his book and the lay of the land in America in Decline.
Anne Summers helped put together the timely and important event Addressing Family Violence, exploring the role of gender inequality in the alarming rates of domestic abuse in Australia today. Summers, Rosie Batty and Tasneem Chopra are all brilliantly qualified to explore this topic from various perspectives.
Georgina (Marketing & Development Manager) recommends:
I loved seeing Christos Tsiolkas in conversation with David Marr at Sydney Writers Festival a couple of years back, have loved his books and just recently binge-watched Barracuda with my 16-year-old niece. I’m curious to hear how decisions about what to leave in and take out are made when books are adapted for TV in Barracuda: From Page to Screen.
I’m a Young Ones tragic so Alexei Sayle: Thatcher Stole My Trousers had to be on my list. I’m interested to hear Sayle’s spin on the Thatcher years in the context of the conservative politics in the UK and Australia now.
Rachel (Development Executive) recommends:
I’m looking forward to seeing the best of Australian contemporary fiction throughout the program, in particular Readings’s free New Australian Fiction series, Anna Funder on The Art of Fiction and Charlotte Wood talking about The Natural Way of Things, which was my favourite book of last year.
Anna Funder and Yann Martel discussing Books for Better Policy is also a must-see for me. As Martel has said himself, ‘If a world leader doesn’t read fiction, how do they know what it means to be the other?’ I think this will be a really powerful conversation.
I am also incredibly excited about Whisky & Water, hosted by Henry Wagons, featuring four brilliant storytellers and whisky tastings from Starward Whisky – on a boat!
Kylie (Administrator/Assistant Program Manager) recommends:
My stand-out pick for this year’s Festival, other than the Small Town Crime event which I’m thrilled to be hosting, is Writing the Self. Juliet Jacques and Fiona Wright’s respective memoirs are equally outstanding and are ripe for further discussion. I’m also looking forward to hearing Maxine Beneba Clarke and Tracy K Smith talking about the art of Writing Memoir, and I’m so excited to see Elizabeth Harrower talk about her impressive body of much-underappreciated work.
Giselle (Marketing Content Coordinator) recommends:
I am obsessed with young adult fiction, so the entire Eye on YA stream is right up my alley – but I’m especially excited for David Levithan: Queer YA, as I love Levithan’s style (and taste in music!) and am interested to hear what he has to say about queer representation in the genre.
I’m also keen for all the Feminist Writers Festival events, particularly Feminism Then & Now with Anne Summers and Yassmin Abdel-Magied – I think they’ll both have great insights into how feminism has evolved over the last four decades.
As a writer who often covers interpersonal relationships in my work, I’m really interested to see Angela Flournoy and Tracy K Smith talk to John Freeman about Writing Family. The opportunity to hear from two powerful women of colour about what drives their narratives, and how they handle delicate family topics in their writing, is an excellent one for any non-white memoirist.
Irene (Marketing Campaign Coordinator) recommends:
I can’t wait for the Editing Masterclass with editor extraordinaire John Freeman for insights into the industry, and the TV fanatic in me is really looking forward to The Writers’ Room with Steve Hely and the always wonderful Benjamin Law.
And Helen Garner: Everywhere I Look, because, duh.
Allie (Box Office Manager) recommends:
I’ve been a PJ Harvey fan since I was 19, when my best friend thrust a copy of Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea into my hand and said ‘This album will change your life’. Her lyrics have always fascinated me with their complexity and stark, unexpected imagery; I can’t wait to hear her poetry and explore her collaboration with Seamus Murphy in The Hollow of the Hand.
Steph (Volunteer & Front of House Coordinator) recommends:
I recently completed a research project on temporary migration, so I can’t wait to hear Peter Mares and Adele Ferguson present their views on this fascinating topic in Australian Migration.
I am really looking forward to catching Steve Silberman talk about neurodiversity in his Big Ideas session, having worked years ago as a therapist for young children with autism. I’m also keen to see Lucy Clark chatting about what success means for kids in today’s education system in Beautiful Failures.
For something a little more light-hearted, I can’t pass up a chance to see Alexei Sayle and Steve Hely in TV Comedy Then & Now – two brains behind some of the best TV comedy moments of the last decades in the same room, wow!