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Podcast series 2021

Join Australia’s finest minds as they provide comfort, seek answers to impossible questions, and imagine a new way forward. Featuring Mehreen Faruqi, Veronica Heritage-Gorrie, Stan Grant, Abbas Nazari, Sarah Krasnostein and more.

Akala: The Dark Lady

Podcast | 58 min

Mid-close-up colour photograph of author Akala. Akala has long dark brown dreadlocks, brown eyes and some light stubble. In the background is a blue wall. 

The Dark Lady by author and hip-hop artist Akala tells the magic-laced adventure of teen orphan and thief, Henry, who makes his way through Shakespearean London’s toughest slum. Taking you to a time when boys like Henry relied on their wits and secret powers to survive, Akala tackles themes of identity and inequality familiar to readers of his bestselling book Natives. Join journalist and ABC RN’s Stop Everything! co-host Beverley Wang as she speaks with an author described by The Guardian as ‘the kind of disruptive, aggressive intellect that a new generation is closely watching’.

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Viet Thanh Nguyen: The Committed

Podcast | 56 min

Mid-close-up colour photograph of author Viet Thanh Nguyen. He has dark hair and eyes and light brown skin. Nguyen is wearing a blue and white suit, and the background is a grey wall.

The Committed is Viet Thanh Nguyen‘s keenly awaited follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Sympathizer. A journey through the underworld of 1980s Paris, it shares the same narrator, a Vietnamese-French communist spy, as its predecessor and has drawn praise as ‘a treatise of global futurity in the aftermath of colonial conquest’ (Ocean Vuong) and ‘a deep, compelling and humorous portrait of how we are shaped by fictions others have for us’ (Laila Lalami). He speaks with Leah Jing McIntosh about a literary thriller spiked with absurdist humour that shines a forensic light on empire and capitalism.

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Brandon Taylor: Filthy Animals

Podcast | 56 min

Environmental photographic portrait of Brandon Taylor. Taylor has dark-brown skin, brown eyes and dark brown facial hair. He is wearing black rectangular glasses and a black and white striped sweater.

One of the breakout literary stars of 2020 for his Booker Prize–shortlisted novel Real Life, American writer Brandon Taylor talks to Adolfo Aranjuez about his captivating new short story collection, Filthy Animals. Hailed as ‘a writer who wields his craft in absolutely unforgettable ways’ (Roxane Gay), he has produced a high-wire act of interlinked stories about young creatives navigating the blurry territories of fear, longing, violence and desire.

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Sigrid Nunez: What Are You Going Through

Podcast | 47 min

Mid-close-up studio photographic portrait of Sigrid Nunez. Nunez has short grey hair, brown eyes and light-brown skin. She is looking into the camera.

In characteristically genre-defying style, Sigrid Nunez's What Are You Going Through melds fiction and criticism to tell a powerful story of multiple endings: the end of a friendship, the end of a life, and the end of humanity itself. The follow-up to the American writer’s National Book Award–winning The Friend, it has been hailed a ‘gloriously meditative story’ that ‘[bursts] with wit, warmth, and human empathy’ (The Independent). She speaks with Astrid Edwards about the meaning of life, the nature of death, the power of art and the purpose of friendship.

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Jhumpa Lahiri: Whereabouts

Podcast | 1 hr

Mid-close-up photographic portrait of Jhumpa Lahiri. Lahiri has brown eyes, long dark-brown hair and medium-brown skin. She is looking toward the camera. In the background is, what appears to be, an Italian street scene.

Pulitzer Prize–winning Jhumpa Lahiri’s new novel, Whereabouts, is a meditative portrait of a woman wavering between stasis and movement as she wanders the parks, piazzas and cafes of an unnamed European city she calls home. Originally composed in Italian and translated into English by Lahiri herself, it depicts a narrator whose outwardly tranquil life belies deeper unrest, estrangement and longing.

Hear from Lahiri as she sheds light on an aching and hypnotic work of fiction in conversation with Emma Alberici.

Supported by ARA

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Rumaan Alam: Leave the World Behind

Podcast | 50 min

Studio photographic portrait of Rumaan Alam. Alam wears a light-blue denim collared shirt and black rectangular glasses. He has brown eyes, medium-brown skin and short dark-brown hair. In the background is a black wall.

One of the year’s most talked-about books, Rumaan Alam's Leave the World Behind is a tautly dystopic story of a family vacation interrupted by unexpected visitors and unseen disaster. Hailed a darkly witty page-turner set against the end of the world, its fans include Carmen Maria Machado, who wrote, ‘I have not been this profoundly unnerved since Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.’ Alam speaks with Osman Faruqi about a novel seemingly tailor-made for our times, exploring race, class and privilege in a world undone by catastrophe.

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Natasha Brown: Assembly

Podcast | 54 min

Close-up photographic portrait of Natasha Brown. Brown has dark brown curly hair, brown skin and is wearing a brown-red sweater. She is staring toward the camera.

Natasha Brown’s Assembly has earned impressive praise as ‘the literary debut of the summer’ (Vogue) and a ‘book that doesn’t just mark the moment things change, but also makes that change possible’ (Ali Smith). She speaks in conversation with Areej Nur about her virtuosic novel, narrated by a Black British woman preparing to attend a lavish party at her boyfriend’s family estate, exploring issues of race, class and assimilation in the shadow of Britain’s colonial legacy.

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Emma Dabiri: What White People Can Do Next

Podcast | 58 min

Mid-close-up photographic portrait of Emma Dabiri. She has dark brown curly hair, brown eyes and light brown skin. She is wearing a black sweater and staring into the camera. The background is white.

Celebrated Irish-Nigerian author Emma Dabiri’s What White People Can Do Next cuts through the noise of online discourse to offer a robust and nuanced examination of race and class. Drawing from lived experience and academic study, Dabiri expertly outlines how the idea of race was constructed to bolster capitalism, while articulating a powerful vision of how to forge a future that works for us all. Listen to her in conversation with Santilla Chingaipe about a deeply practical treatise told with intellectual rigour and razor-sharp wit.

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Rachel Cusk: Second Place

Podcast | 1.08 hr

Environmental photographic portrait of Rachel Cusk. Cusk has light skin, dark hair and dark eyes. She is sitting in a car and facing the camera.

Rachel Cusk’s breakaway Outline trilogy was heralded as nothing short of a reinvention of the novel, unfolding across a series of conversations with a withholding narrator. Her newest work, Second Place, extends the themes of female fate and male privilege to encompass the murky link between art and evil. Cusk speaks with interviewer Sophie Black about a dazzling and psychologically exacting fable of human destiny and decline, and her prolific career at large.

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Norman Swan Knows What’s Good For You

Podcast | 38 min

Mid-close-up environmental photographic portrait of Norman Swan. He has light skin and short grey hair. Swan is wearing round-rimmed spectacles, a white collared shirt and a black blazer.

One of the nation’s most trusted voices during the pandemic, much-loved ABC broadcaster and physician Dr Norman Swan, discusses his first health book, So You Think You Know What’s Good for You? With his trademark clarity and wit, he cuts through medical myths and half-truths to set the record straight on the things we need to know to make better decisions about how to eat, live and preserve good health, in conversation with interviewer Raf Epstein.

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Hidden Worlds

Podcast | 30 min

Environmental photographic portrait of Karen Ginnane.  Ginnane has light skin, brown eyes and wears a dark short bob. In the background is a concrete wall and green foliage.

Travel through time to hidden realms with fantasy writer Karen Ginnane (When Days Tilt), in conversation with Amie Kaufman. The teen hero of Ginnane’s debut novel swoops through Victorian-era London to a parallel city to solve her mother’s disappearance. 

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Personal Truths

Podcast | 42 min

Mid-close-up studio photographic portrait of Clem Bastow. She has light skin, cropped blonde hair and blue tattoos on her left arm. She's wearing a black floral dress.

Join acclaimed writers Kathryn Heyman and Clem Bastow as they reflect on their unsparing and hopeful memoirs in conversation with moderator Erina Reddan. Bastow’s wise and witty Late Bloomer examines being diagnosed with autism at age 36, the challenges she faced growing up, and broader cultural stigma around autism, especially for women and gender-diverse people. Heyman’s Fury has been described as a ‘searing, thrilling and redemptive’ (Anna Funder) account of her year-long stint on a fishing trawler in the Timor Sea at age 20 that raised her out of poverty and abuse to become her own hero.

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What's Left Unsaid

Podcast | 41 min

Mid-close-up studio photographic portrait of Larissa Behrendt. Behrendt has brown eyes, light brown skin and long golden brown hair. She is wearing red lipstick and is smiling into the camera.

Prize-winning novelists Larissa Behrendt and Steven Carroll reflect on how literature from long ago can lead us to truths once left unsaid. Behrendt sets the Western literary canon beside First Nations storytelling in After Story, in which an Indigenous lawyer and her mother tour England’s most revered literary sites. Carroll’s O reimagines the infamous French novel Story of O, shining a light on the preoccupations and wartime past a country would rather forget. With moderator Clare Wright.

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Left Behind

Podcast | 36 min

Close-up environmental photographic portrait of Emily Spurr. Spurr has light skin, blue eyes and wavy golden hair. She is wearing red earrings and is staring into the camera.

Join two of the year’s most impressive debut novelists, Sophie Overett and Emily Spurr, as they talk about capturing the confusion, grief and resilience of characters grappling with the disappearance of loved ones. Overett won the Penguin Literary Prize for The Rabbits, a magic-realism-infused story of a family grieving the disappearance of a son, who they soon learn has turned invisible. Shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Unpublished Manuscript Award, Spurr’s A Million Things is the enthralling and wrenching tale of a brave, spiky young girl who must fend for herself in her mother’s absence. With Elizabeth Flux.

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But You Don't Look Sick

Podcast | 43 min

Mid-close-up colour photograph of Bridget Hustwaite. Hustwaite has blonde and wavy hair and fair skin. She is smiling, wearing a coral-coloured lipstick and a pink and white check dress. The background is lilac.

Nearly half of Australians live with a chronic illness, but many of these conditions are invisible and endured in secrecy. Triple J presenter and How to Endo author Bridget Hustwaite teams up with ABC Radio presenter and Unseen author Jacinta Parsons to speak with Jamila Rizvi about living with hidden illness. They reflect on the challenging path to diagnosis—Hustwaite with endometriosis, and Parsons with Crohn’s disease—how the medical system ignores women, and the complex dynamic between those living with illness, their bodies, and society at large.

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The Mourning After

Podcast | 31 min

Environmental photographic portrait of Ella Baxter. Baxter has long, golden-brown hair and light skin. She wears a black long-sleeve shirt. There's a rosemary-like plant in the background.

Hear from acclaimed new talents Ella Baxter and Allee Richards as they speak to Elizabeth McCarthy about their debut novels, which each brings unique perspective to the story of a young woman navigating sudden loss and grief. Baxter’s New Animal is the ‘profound, profane and darkly hilarious’ (Bri Lee) story of a young cosmetician in a family mortuary who falls in with a Tasmanian BDSM community after experiencing tragedy. Exploring friendship, desire and grief, Richards’ Small Joys of Real Life follows a woman reeling from the death of a fleeting romantic encounter and has been described as Sally Rooney meets Helen Garner.

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Lillian Ahenkan: The Success Experiment

Podcast | 39 min

Mid-close-up studio photograph of Lillian Ahenkan. Ahenkan has dark-brown hair and eyes and brown skin. She is wearing lashings of mascara and light-orange makeup and gold jewellery. She is wearing a white shirt underneath a brown-striped blazer. The background is a peachy pink.

Known to some 150,000 Instagram followers as Flex Mami, Lillian Ahenkan is a presenter, podcaster and influencer who uses her platform to explore everything from therapy to DIY decorating to racism. She chats with Matilda Boseley about her debut book The Success Experiment—detailing how she transformed herself from a two-time uni drop-out and a career that paid in burnout into a highly sought-after media personality—and the formula that will make you think differently about the way you live and work.

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Let Me Be Brief: Paige Clark and Chloe Wilson

Podcast | 35 min

Close-up colour photograph of Paige Clark. Clark has dark-brown hair and eyes and is wearing a gold and pearl drop earring.

Acclaimed writers Paige Clark (She Is Haunted) and Chloe Wilson (Hold Your Fire) chat about their short story collections, both bound by fantastical and unsettling elements, in conversation with Veronica Sullivan.

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Rewriting History

Podcast | 22 min

Mid-close-up colour photograph of Rebecca Starford. Starford has long and wavy dark-blonde hair and fair skin. She is smiling into the camera and wears a green collared shirt. The background is a white wall.

Australian writers Steven Carroll and Rebecca Starford speak to Sarah L'Estrange about two of the most riveting historical novels of the year, each featuring characters with shifting identities set against the backdrop of WWII. A Miles Franklin–winning author, Carroll’s O travels to occupied France to reimagine the infamous Story of O and the life of its pseudonymous protagonist, offering insight into power, surrender and the expectations of women. Starford’s debut novel The Imitator is a page-turning thriller that draws from the true story of a woman who became an undercover agent for MI5, exploring courage, loyalty, and sacrifice.

Supported by the Faculty of Arts, The University of Melbourne

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The Ripple Effect

Podcast | 52 min

Close-up colour photograph of Sofie Laguna. Laguna has dark-blonde hair, blue eyes and light skin. She is smiling into the camera and is wearing a lilac top. The background is a brown-yellow wall.

The new novels of Miles Franklin–winning writer Sofie Laguna (Infinite Splendours) and Walkley–winning journalist Erina Reddan (The Serpent’s Skin) each depict childhood trauma and its reverberations into adulthood. In this podcast, they speak with Ellen Cregan about the corrosive power of toxic masculinity, the betrayal of a child by the adults in their life, the strength of sibling bonds, and the ways in which hope and redemption are salvaged later in life.

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Mehreen Faruqi: Too Migrant, Too Muslim, Too Loud

Podcast | 32 min

Mid-close-up of Mehreen Faruqi. She has dark-brown hair, brown eyes and light-brown skin. She is wearing rectangular glasses and a teal collared blouse.

The first Muslim woman to sit in an Australian parliament, Greens senator and life-long feminist and anti-racism activist Mehreen Faruqi tells her story in the no-holds-barred memoir Too Migrant, Too Muslim, Too Loud. Join her as she recounts arriving from Pakistan in 1992 with a young family and two suitcases, her career as a civil and environmental engineer, and her ascent as a political outsider in a white man’s world, striving to change it without being changed. Faruqi is joined by moderator Tasneem Chopra.

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Australia and the End of Empire

Podcast | 44 min

Close-up colour photograph of Veronica Heritage-Gorrie. Heritage-Gorrie has dark-brown hair, brown eyes and light-brown skin. She is wearing red lipstick, red and white circular earrings and a black scoop-neck top.

Two authors confront the impossibility of untangling the enduring racism of Australia without seriously reckoning with the ongoing dispossession and genocide of First Nations people. Join Gunai/Kurnai writer Veronica Heritage-Gorrie (Black and Blue) and activist and thinker Randa Abdel-Fattah (Coming of Age in the War on Terror) as they examine how modern-day racism is bound to the violence and traumas of colonisation, and how we can forge a path forward. With moderator Roj Amedi.

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A New Body Politic

Podcast | 43 min

Close-up colour photograph of Sarah Walker. Walker has short red hair, fair skin and blue eyes. Walker is wearing silver-rimmed spectacles and red lipstick.

Cutting through the noise of self-commodification, debut authors Sam van Zweden and Sarah Walker talk about overcoming fear and loathing to reconnect with our minds and bodies, in conversation with Eloise Grills. Van Zweden’s Eating with My Mouth Open, winner of the 2019 KYD Unpublished Award, explores memory, hunger and wellbeing while celebrating food and the bodies it nurtures. Walker’s The First Time I Thought I Was Dying examines the junction of anatomy and society and how we can embrace our innate unruliness, drawing praise as ‘an unafraid and thrilling book’ (Maria Tumarkin).

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What We Become

Podcast | 40 min

Mid-close-up photograph of Madeleine Ryan. Ryan has brown eyes, fair skin and medium-brown long hair. They are looking into the camera and wear a red shirt. The background is a red-orange wall.

In an intimate conversation featuring two of literary Australia’s brightest young talents, Madeleine Ryan (A Room Called Earth) and Yves Rees (All About Yves) speak to Adolfo Aranjuez about laying bare the messiness of bodies, gender and identity, and navigating shifting selfhood. Rees discusses writing their account of coming to understand they were transgender at the age of 30, while Ryan shares her own experience of being diagnosed with autism while writing her novel, a first-person story following a neurodivergent young woman over the course of a night.

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Internal Affairs

Podcast | 52 min

Mid-close-up colour photograph of Meg Mason. Mason has brown eyes, light-brown hair and white skin. She wears a long-sleeve white shirt and stares into the camera.

Hear from two of the country’s most distinct literary voices as they discuss their breakthrough novels which both conjure nuanced depictions of women’s interior lives. Meg Mason‘s Sorrow and Bliss is a bleakly funny coming-of-age confessional that has drawn comparisons to Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag. Claire Thomas' The Performance explores the fears and desires of three women attending a play in Melbourne as a bushfire encroaches, earning praise as ‘a project of living [that] is rendered with compassionate clarity’ (New York Times). With Abigail Ulman.

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The Ties That Bind

Podcast | 37 min

Mid-close-up colour photograph of Laura Elizabeth Woollett. Woollett has long dark-brown hair, light skin and dark brown eyes. She is wearing red lipstick and a lilac long-sleeve collared shirt.

Critically acclaimed Australian authors Laura Elizabeth Woollett and Mark Brandi shed light on sensitively shaping crime novels that depict the relationship between a parent and child, in conversation with Elizabeth McCarthy. Woollett’s The Newcomer is a delicately wrought story of a young woman’s murder, a mother’s grief, and the cascading aftermath of violence against women. Brandi’s The Others is a foreboding psychological drama involving an 11-year-old boy living with his survivalist father on a secluded farm.

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Scandalous Fictions

Podcast | 34 min

Close-up studio photograph of Jacqueline Maley. Maley has brown eyes, light skin and dark-brown hair. The background is white.

Jacqueline Maley and Filip Vukašin share insight into their striking debut novels, each centred around a narrator whose life is upended by scandal, in conversation with Toni Jordan. A Walkley Award–winning journalist, Maley sheds light on The Truth About Her, the story of a single mother and reporter whose career unravels in the wake of her exposé of a fraudulent wellness guru that ends in tragedy and a workplace affair. A doctor by day, Vukašin talks about Modern Marriage, his portrayal of a cosmetic physician whose life is shattered when her husband is found dead, raising questions about prejudice, sexuality and the gap between perception and truth.

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Motherhood in the Time of Climate Crisis

Podcast | 37 min

Mid-close-up black and white photograph of Briohny Doyle. Briohny has long blonde hair and white skin. She is wearing a black singlet top and is standing in the middle of a quiet road.

Acclaimed authors Briohny Doyle (Echolalia) and Delia Falconer (Signs and Wonders) have each penned singular books bound by an exploration of what it means to be a woman, mother, and artist in an era of ecological crisis. Hear them in conversation with Else Fitzgerald about their evocative works that cast light on tough moral questions, spanning family, climate change, and how the legacies of colonialism and patriarchy are passed down through the generations.

In partnership with 3RRR 102.7FM

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Cautionary Tales

Podcast | 41 min

Mid-close-up photograph of Debra Oswald. Oswald is smiling and has black glasses on.

Debra Oswald (The Family Doctor) and JP Pomare (The Last Guests) share insight into writing psychological thrillers with pressing big-picture themes, with Angela Savage.

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John Safran: Puff Piece

Podcast | 40 min

Mid-close-up colour photograph of John Safran. Safran is holding reading glasses to his eyes and staring into the camera.

John Safran launches his signature style of gonzo journalism on Big Tobacco for his impressively subtitled new book Puff Piece: How Philip Morris set vaping alight (and burned down the English language). In conversation with Mahmood Fazal, the inimitable writer and filmmaker relates his wild, hilarious and thoughtful investigation into the rise of vaping and why marketing spin and branding can literally be matters of life and death.

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Our Better Nature

Podcast | 33 min

Mid-close-up-colour-photograph of Vicky Shukuroglou. The author has short grey hair and brown eyes.

Questions Raised by Quolls author Harry Saddler and Loving Country co-author Vicky Shukuroglou talk about the need to preserve our natural wonders against multiple threats, in discussion with Fatima Measham.

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The Assault of the Earth

Podcast | 34 min

Mid-close-up colour photograph of Gabrielle Chan. Chan has short brown hair, is wearing a white-collared shirt and is staring into the camera.

As Australia faces the spectre of climate change, how can our leaders and us as consumers usher in new ways to address issues of sustainability and misinformation? Award-winning journalists Gabrielle Chan (Why You Should Give a F*ck About Farming) and Marian Wilkinson (The Carbon Club) speak with Astrid Edwards about their works, which shine a light on issues of class, environmentalism and policymaking as they relate to the fossil fuel and produce industries.

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First Nations Poets Tell Us How It Ends

Podcast | 56 min

An incredible line-up of First Nations poets perform works speaking to this year’s Festival theme Tell Me How It Ends, traversing the end of empire, celebrating Country and cultural resistance, and considering what comes next. Programmed and hosted by Jingili Mudburra writer and editor Bridget Caldwell-Bright, the episode showcases pieces by acclaimed Dropbear author Evelyn Araluen, who was born and raised on Dharug country, and is a descendant of the Bundjalung Nation; artist, poet and Lardil and Yangkaal woman Maya Hodge; and Wiradjuri poet and filmmaker Jazz Money.

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The Art of Blak Critique

Podcast | 57 min

Hear from a panel of First Nations critics, reviewers and essayists as they discuss the importance of Blak critique and peer review in a predominantly white review culture that continues to sideline or superficially engage with Indigenous stories. The event’s programmer, Jingili Mudburra writer and editor Bridget Caldwell-Bright, chats with critic, essayist and descendant of the Yorta Yorta Declan Fry; critic, researcher and a descendant of Numbulwar Tristen Harwood; and Gomeroi poet and legal researcher Alison Whittaker.

Supported by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund

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Dear Son

Podcast | 29 min

Curated by Torres Strait Islander writer and prominent Uluru Statement champion Thomas Mayor, Dear Son shares heartfelt letters written by First Nations men about life, masculinity, love, culture and racism. It features prose and poetry by Mayor alongside letters penned by 12 contributors to their sons, fathers and nephews. Shelley Ware speaks with Mayor about a poignant and beautifully illustrated celebration of First Nations manhood.

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Lines of Inquiry

Podcast | 49 min

How does the flexible form of poetry make it uniquely placed to vivify Indigenous storylines, languages and connections to Country while grappling with the ongoing legacy of Australia’s brutal colonisation? Prominent Aboriginal researcher and writer Professor Marcia Langton speaks with a panel of our most exciting poets about how their work and the medium at large bring fresh perspective to our past, present and future. Sharing their insights are proud Noongar author of Lies, Damned Lies Claire G Coleman; Windham-Campbell Prize–winning Yankunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann; and award-winning Munanjali poet Samuel Wagan Watson.

Supported by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund

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New Wave of First Nations Fiction

Podcast | 51 min

A vanguard of First Nations fiction writers is carrying forward the world’s oldest storytelling traditions while upending the settler narratives of our literary canon. Prominent Aboriginal researcher and writer Professor Marcia Langton chats with a panel of leading Indigenous novelists about the power of fiction to illuminate First Nations histories, cultures, and ways of thinking. Featuring Melissa Lucashenko, a Goorie author of Bundjalung heritage and 2019 Miles Franklin winner (Too Much Lip); Nardi Simpson, a Yuwaalaraay musician, educator and debut novelist (Song of the Crocodile); and Karen Wyld, an award-winning writer (Where the Fruit Falls) of Martu descent.

Supported by ARA

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Other Ways the World Could Be

Podcast | 53 min

We all have different expectations of utopian and dystopian stories, but how do they confound understanding when we live through them? ABC RN’s Paul Barclay speaks with a panel of contributors to the Griffith Review’s Hey, Utopia! about unexpected realities and revelations amid the largest narratives of our time, and how they shape our vision for other ways the world could be. Featuring writers Julian Meyrick, Kristen Rundle and David Threlfall.

In partnership with Griffith Review

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Uncomfortable Truths from Unceded Land

Podcast | 60 min

Prominent Aboriginal researcher and writer Professor Marcia Langton speaks with some of the country’s most respected non-fiction writers to discuss how First Nations ideas, histories and politics inform their work. Hear from Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi journalist Stan Grant (With the Falling of the Dusk); Thomas Mayor, a Torres Strait Islander man born on Larrakia country, who is an Uluru Statement from the Heart signatory and author of Dear Son and Finding the Heart of the Nation; and prolific historian and author Henry Reynolds (Truth-Telling: History, Sovereignty and the Uluru Statement).

Supported by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund

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Relative Chaos

Podcast | 35 min

Join two of Australia’s most beloved writers, Emily Maguire and Alice Pung, as they share insight into fearlessly rendered new novels that explore the fault lines of class, family and love, with Elizabeth McCarthy. The Miles Franklin–shortlisted author of An Isolated Incident, Maguire expands the story of a compulsive hoarder into a study of wealth divides and multigenerational trauma in Love Objects. The multiple prize–winning author of Unpolished Gem, Pung depicts the fraught relationship between a pregnant teen and her overprotective mother in One Hundred Days.

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The Memories We Inherit

Podcast | 41 min

In their latest books, Sam van Zweden (Eating with My Mouth Open) and Krissy Kneen (The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen) excavate memory to pursue truths about their own flesh and blood and pay homage to their family, while making poignant statements about what we inherit in our bodies, our minds and our sense of self. They join ABC RN’s Sarah L’Estrange to speak about how their genre-bending works weave together different forms of storytelling to reveal the underpinnings of their very identities.

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Rebecca Giggs: Fathoms: The World in the Whale

Podcast | 45 min

When Stella Prize–shortlisted author Rebecca Giggs encountered a humpback whale stranded on her local beach, she began to wonder how the lives of whales might shed light on the condition of our seas—and of our humanity. Fathoms: The World in the Whale is a work of profound insight that blends history, philosophy, and ecological science to explore what these awe-inspiring creatures reveal about our collective futures. Giggs joins MWF Artistic Director Michaela McGuire to discuss what it means to write about nature in a time of technological change and ecological crisis.

In partnership with the Faculty of Arts, The University of Melbourne for Melbourne Reads

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Masculinity on the Ropes

Podcast | 33 min

As conversations around vulnerability, trauma and healing abound, many men are learning that long-held notions of masculinity and ‘manning up’ are not only limiting, they are causing real harm. Hear from memoirists Lech Blaine and Rick Morton and essayist Matthew Sini, in a discussion about men’s complicated relationship with stoicism, love, and empathy, and its role in grief, trauma and redemption. Blaine’s Car Crash examines Australia’s larrikin brand of toxic masculinity and how to recover from catastrophe when you’ve been taught to stare down heartbreak. Morton’s My Year of Living Vulnerably charts his hard-won healing from childhood neglect and complex PTSD. They speak with moderator Ronnie Scott.

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Can You Keep a Secret?

Podcast | 36 min

Hear authors Gabriel Bergmoser and Sophie Gonzales share stories of teenagers whose secret identities come completely unstuck, with moderator Will Kostakis. Bergmoser’s novel The True Colour of a Little White Lie centres on a geeky teen who reinvents himself on a family ski trip, with chaotic consequences. Gonzales’ Perfect on Paper is about a queer high schooler who gives anonymous love advice for a fee, but is blackmailed in exchange for keeping her identity a secret.

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Secrets, Spies and Whistleblowers

Podcast | 46 min

Can we claim to be a truly free and fair democracy with a government that raids the homes of reporters, aggressively pursues whistleblowers and remains tight-lipped on the fate of Julian Assange? One of the country’s most respected journalists Kerry O’Brien leads a timely panel discussion about state secrets, press freedom and open justice with Andrew Fowler, an award-winning reporter and author of the acclaimed Assange biography The Most Dangerous Man in the World, and lawyer Bernard Collaery, author of Oil Under Troubled Water, who faces trial for advising Witness K in relation to Australia’s spy operation against our ally East Timor during oil and gas negotiations.

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Oh, the Humanities

Podcast | 53 min

The Morrison government’s doubling of fees for humanities degrees is the latest manoeuvre in a long-waged culture war. But what do we stand to lose as arts, history and culture departments shrink, future students are saddled with huge loans or deterred from studying, and academia is forced to defend itself on increasingly neoliberal terms? Featuring Who Gets to Be Smart author Bri Lee, former ABC managing director and Sydney University vice-chancellor Mark Scott, and La Trobe emeritus professor of politics Judith Brett, in discussion with ABC RN’s Big Ideas host Paul Barclay.

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Young and Muslim in Australia

Podcast | 41 min

Activist, academic and author Randa Abdel-Fattah (Coming of Age in the War on Terror) and Miles Franklin–shortlisted novelist Michael Mohammed Ahmad (The Other Half of You) come together for a powerful dialogue on identity, xenophobia and the lives of young Australian Muslims. Drawing insight from their latest books, the duo speak with Tasneem Chopra about the crossroads of family, faith and tradition, and the experiences of a generation socialised in a climate of Islamophobia and rising polarisation.

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Anita Heiss: Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray

Podcast | 52 min

Penned by prize-winning Wiradyuri writer Anita Heiss, Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray (River of Dreams) is an epic story of love and loss centred on a young Aboriginal couple’s search for home. Hailed ‘a remarkable story of courage and a love of Country’ (Tony Birch), it bears witness to the tenacity of its central character, Wagadhaany, whose journey is made possible by the deep strength of the earth she walks on. Heiss speaks with Paul Barclay about a powerful story of family and Country, and how she seamlessly intertwines the Wiradyuri language with English as an empowering act of sovereignty.

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Fortress Australia

Podcast | 40 min

Australia, the geographically lucky country that shut up shop and crushed COVID. But has the politically popular hard-line response merely camouflaged a bungled vaccine rollout, resulted in a dereliction of duty to stranded citizens, and stoked xenophobic anxieties for political gain? Renowned physician and ABC host Dr Norman Swan debates public safety, politics and the pandemic with 7am editor Osman Faruqi and author and political commentator Jamila Rizvi, moderated by Raf Epstein.

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Let Me Be Brief: Melissa Manning and Adam Thompson

Podcast | 45 min

Two of Australia’s most exciting debut authors, Melissa Manning and Adam Thompson, discuss their captivating short story collections set against the Tasmanian landscape, with Veronica Sullivan. Traversing a rugged coastline, Manning’s Smokehouse features a series of interlinked stories that bring into focus how the people we meet and places we live shape who we become. Thompson’s Born Into This showcases stories with Tasmanian Aboriginal characters at their heart, blending pathos and humour while touching on identity, racism and heritage.

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The Lies of the Land: Australia, Assange and WikiLeaks

Podcast | 53 min

Joe Biden’s recent calls to have Julian Assange stand trial in the US have renewed debate at home about free speech, whistle-blower protection and Australia’s loyalty to American interests. Hear from three champions for truth—human rights lawyer Julian Burnside, activist and former Greens senator Scott Ludlam, and Assange’s own lawyer Jen Robinson—about the long shadow of WikiLeaks, the lingering fate of Assange and the consequences of covert power.

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The End of the Larrikin Legend?

Podcast | 38 min

From Bob Hawke to ocker billionaires, the figure of the larrikin looms large in Aussie culture. But is it strictly the domain of top (white) blokes, how does it play out in our politics, and will Scott Morrison’s laidback daggy-dad persona succeed or sour with voters before next year’s election as we reel from bushfires, floods and the pandemic? Lech Blaine (Top Blokes: The Larrikin Myth, Class and Power) joins The Age state political editor and author of The Accidental Prime Minister Annika Smethurst and presenter Jan Fran to get to the heart of our national character.

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Above and Beyond Belief

Podcast | 32 min

Just how far should a creative non-fiction author immerse themselves in a subject when writing a book? Acclaimed authors Sarah Krasnostein and Jenny Valentish discuss meticulously researched new releases that delve deep into the lives of extraordinary people, with Elizabeth McCarthy. Exploring the power of conviction in The Believer, Krasnostein spent time with six people in Australia and the US who hold fast to ideas—from UFOs to assisted dying—even when they sit outside the mainstream. Valentish immersed herself in the lives of body builders, dedicated fighters and BDSM practitioners to find out what drives those who push the limits of endurance in Everything Harder Than Everyone Else.

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Tampa: 20 Years On

Podcast | 42 min

This year marks 20 years since the Tampa boat was famously turned away from our shores, sparking debate between Australia, Norway and Indonesia over their responsibility to those on board and marking a watershed moment in the creation of a border protection policy that has informed successive governments’ approach to refugees who arrive by boat. Tampa survivor turned Fulbright scholar Abbas Nazari (After the Tampa) discusses the legacy of the incident, the life he has since built in New Zealand, and the power of hope, with journalist Michael Green.

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Where Do I Begin?

Podcast | 29 min

To find out how the story ends, we need to understand how it began. How have our brutal beginnings endured to this day, and how do we reckon with our history of dispossession? When did we start to see ourselves as a bunch of battlers, larrikins and top blokes in the land of the fair go? And what fibs, both big and small, help our leaders stay in power? Stan Grant, Santilla Chingaipe and Claire G Coleman share readings on Australia’s foundational myths.

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