The top picks of Melbourne Writers Festival

Not sure what to see at Melbourne's biggest literary festival (Aug 24-Sep 2)? Here are some cracking highlights
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You can't say Melbourne Writers Festival shies away from the big topics. The theme of this year's festival, with Marieke Hardy at the helm for the first time, is 'A Matter of Life and Death', which encompasses just about everything. There are some huge names participating in this year's festival, both Australian and international. Events in the festival are not limited to traditional lectures and discussions – nearly a quarter of the program comprises immersive and experiential events and installations, live theatre, music, dance and stand-up comedy.

For the full program, head to the MWF website

And if you're in a literary mood, check out Melbourne's best bookshops. And if you need a pick-me-up to keep you going through all that literature, here's where you can find Melbourne's best coffee

Our picks of MWF 2018

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Melbourne Writers Festival Opening Gala
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MWF Opening Night Gala: You Are Here

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This joyful celebration will set the tone for the festival and will kick things off in style. The evening is a toast to survival, joy, resilience and pure existence.  Popular children's book author Andy Griffiths (of the Treehouse series) will be on the decks DJing the party, and the night will include performances from soul singer Mojo Juju, spoken word artist Sukhjit Kaur and rapper Fablice Manirakiza, who came to Australia as a refugee from war-torn Burundi in 2007.   Australia’s first gay and lesbian youth chorus, shOUT Choir, will be providing tunes, and art collective the Boon Companions will also be performing. American singer-songwriter Andrew WK will be giving a keynote address, and the whole night is hosted by Sista Zai Zanda. This is not your mother's book club party. 

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Magda Szubanski
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Second Last Rites: Magda's Funeral

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What will your funeral be like? Who will go? What will they say? Will there be tears? What will the music be like?  Magda Szubanski wants to discover the answers to these very Tom Sawyer questions, and she will be appearing at her very own funeral during Melbourne Writers Festival.  There will be big-name guests, but just as with a funeral for the dead, you won't know who they are until you arrive. You can expect toasts and eulogies, plus of course the very funny Szubanski. The event will be hosted by Emilie Zoey Baker.

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3
Miranda Tapsell
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Pretty for an Aboriginal: Set it Alight

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Writer Nakkiah Lui (author of Black Comedy on the ABC and critical and audience darling Blackie Blackie Brown) and actress Miranda Tapsell (The Sapphires, Love Child) are the hosts of Pretty for an Aboriginal, a podcast about sex, relationships, power and race. Their conversations are honest, whip-smart and always thought-provoking.  The pair are recording a special episode of their podcast, called 'Set it Alight', as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival. It promises to 'burn down the structures, strictures and power brokers that have governed the entertainment industry for too long'. We told you it would be thought-provoking. The episode will also include performances by upcoming Indigenous musician BIRDZ, with support from Alice Skye.

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Paul Kelly
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Paul Kelly: Other People's Words

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Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly certainly has no trouble coming up with lyrics. He has 23 albums to his name, with many of them featuring his own music and words.  But for this special Melbourne Writers Festival performance, Kelly has written songs 'to other people's words'. The songs will feature the poetry of Emily Dickinson, Les Murray, Judith Wright, WB Yeats and more.  During the show, Kelly will also discuss the art of words with writer and poet Maxine Beneba Clarke. A must for any Kelly – or poetry – fan.

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5
Anna Krien
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Things to do, Talks and discussions

How I Survived: Anna Krien and Benjamin Law

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It seems like absolutely everyone was reading Night Games in 2013. The exploration of sporting culture, toxic masculinity, rape, crime and power was the couldn't-put-down book of the year, with unexpected twists and turns and a conclusion no one saw coming.  Night Games author Anna Krien will sit down with writer Benjamin Law at this year's Melbourne Writers Festival to talk about survival, through parenting challenges and creative fallow periods. Krien and Law have been close friends for years (and what a literary power friendship that is!), so audiences can expect an evening of easy but powerful conversation. 

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Bob Murphy
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Bob Murphy: Leather Soul

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Was there a more tear-inducing moment in football in 2016 than when Luke Beveridge handed his Jock McHale medal to Bob Murphy, who had captained the Western Bulldogs to grand final victory but was unable to play due to injury? Footscray fan or no, there wasn't a dry eye in Melbourne when the Dogs ended their 62-year premiership drought with Murphy on the sidelines.  Beloved western Melbourne son Bob Murphy has written a memoir about his 17-year sporting career, called Leather Soul. He's coming to Melbourne Writers Festival to talk about the memoir and the people, places and events that shaped him with Bulldogs superfan Wil Anderson. There will be limited seating but plenty of standing room at this event. 

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Melbourne Writers Festival
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MWF Closing Night Party: You Are There

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All good things must come to an end, and the Writers Festival is going out with a night of rituals and goodbyes. The night is designed around the theme of letting go, with six writers speaking about losing someone or something. Ali Cobby Eckermann, Jessie Cole, Sophie Cunningham, Kate Holden, Mariam Issa and Maria Tumarkin will all talk about loss, healing and farewell.  Two-time ARIA winner Megan Washington will perform on the night, so you know it will e something special. The night will be hosted by Rafeif Ismail.

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