Episodes
Join Annabel Crabb and Sydney Writers' Festival Artistic Director Michaela McGuire for a special unveiling of the 2020 Festival program. Like "unwrapping the greatest Christmas present ever", Michaela unravels this year's uncannily prescient theme, introduces the Festival's guest curators and the acclaimed writers in the Opening Address, and discusses some of the events she's most excited about. Prepare to have a reading list a mile long after listening.  View the 2020 program and purchase...
Published 03/10/20
Bestselling author Yanis Varoufakis (And the Weak Suffer What They Must?, Talking to My Daughter) and rock-star economist shares his forward-thinking views on the challenges facing European democracy and the universal truths they tell about the state of global politics in conversation with George Megalogenis. After entering politics during the Greek financial crisis in 2015, Yanis quickly became one of the most relevant and radical political figures of our times. The former Greek finance...
Published 03/09/20
In an age when you can be sacked for an inflammatory Twitter post, people are asked to sign ‘morality clauses’, and media ownership remains in the hands of a select few, it seems that the powerful are increasingly able to redraw the boundaries of free speech. Guardian Australia columnist and Trigger Warnings author Jeff Sparrow argues that in an economy in which our labour is the prime commodity, employers and the powers that be are more able than ever to monitor individual expression, making...
Published 01/20/20
The Little Girl on the Ice Floe author Adélaïde Bon explores a topic that has long fascinated her: the history of witches. Beginning with the witch-hunts of the Renaissance, she considers how depictions of witches have evolved, examining nasty archetypes portrayed by writers like Roald Dahl, and their counterparts as imagined by the likes of Babette Cole. Adélaïde explains how witches have empowered her, and how writing itself is like brewing potions with words.
Published 01/20/20
As the co-founder of Lonely Planet, Tony Wheeler has inspired generations of intrepid travellers to explore the four corners of the planet. But in an age where travel is more accessible than ever, what does it really mean to have been ‘everywhere’? Join Tony as he reflects on the most accomplished adventurers he knows, the unticked destinations on his wish list, and the challenges and rewards of visiting some of the world’s more remote and difficult destinations.
Published 01/20/20
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, the importance of moving beyond lip service when it comes to diversity, and the relationship between literary excellence and literary...
Published 01/12/20
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.
Published 01/12/20
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...
Published 01/12/20
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...
Published 01/06/20
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...
Published 01/06/20
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...
Published 01/06/20
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.
Published 12/11/19
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...
Published 12/11/19
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...
Published 12/11/19
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.
Published 12/05/19
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.
Published 12/04/19
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.
Published 12/04/19
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....
Published 11/27/19
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...
Published 11/26/19
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)...
Published 11/26/19
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.
Published 11/19/19
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.
Published 11/19/19
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.
Published 11/19/19
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.
Published 11/11/19
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.
Published 11/11/19