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Sydney Writers’ Festival reveals its line-up for 2018

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Written by
Emma Joyce
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‘Power’ is the theme of this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival, which features 60 international guests running the gamut of popular culture from ‘BBC Dad’ (upstaged by his family while talking Korean politics) to the co-hosts of New York Times culture podcast Still Processing.

The 21st festival runs from April 30 to May 6 – almost a month earlier than usual – and this time it’ll be based at Carriageworks, as Walsh Bay undergoes redevelopment.

Artistic director Michaela McGuire continues to bring new voices and perspectives to Australia through her programming and 2018’s international speakers are as promising as last year’s. Keynote speakers are Call Me by Your Name author André Aciman, New York Times bestseller Min Jin Lee (Pachinko) and staff writer for the New Yorker Alexis Okeowo, author of A Moonless, Starless Sky.

An exciting new component of the program is a series of Sydney Writers’ Festival Nights at Carriageworks in which New York Times journalists Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham will host an exclusive episode of their podcast Still Processing, as well as local playwright-podcast host Nakkiah Lui, who’ll record a special episode of Pretty for an Aboriginal with American writer Zinzi Clemmons, author of What We Lose.

Audience at Sydney Writers' Festival

Photograph: Prudence Upton


The night-time program will include readings, talks and performances by André Aciman, who’ll talk about his latest work,
Enigma Variations; Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan; and New York poet, novelist and performer Eileen Myles.

McGuire’s passion for representation across race, gender and politics also shines through in the 400 Australian writers, academics and public figures talking on the theme of power. Speakers from non-fiction and memoir include Stan Grant (Talking to My Country), Peter Greste (The First Casualty) and Julia Gillard (My Story) through to Jacqui Lambie, Christine Milne and Sam Dastyari.

Warwick Thornton
Warwick Thornton will be on the panel at the SWF Gala
Photograph: Supplied


As well as political power, journalists Kate McClymont, Emma Alberici, Marina Go and Tracey Spicer will look at 50 years of feminism and the issue of predominantly white-male newsrooms in the media. And a line-up of filmmakers, pollies, activists and authors will tackle the theme of power in the
SWF Gala, which features An American Marriage author Tayari Jones; Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Wesley Morris; Call Your Girlfriend co-host Aminatou Sow; filmmaker Warwick Thornton; journalist Masha Gessen, LGBTQIA activist Sally Rugg; and Tanya Plibersek MP.

Other international guests include Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz, who’ll will speak about children’s book Islandborn; New York Times bestselling author Amy Bloom (White Houses); Russian-American journalist and unauthorised Vladimir Putin biographer Masha Gessen; and Gabriel Tallent, whose book My Absolute Darling has been called “this year’s A Little Life” by The Guardian.

In addition, there’ll be a Family Program featuring Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Chris Riddell (2015-2017 UK Children's Laureate), the Listies, Jacqueline Harvey and Leigh Hobbs (Freaks on the Loose). Plus a full day of YA events at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta.

Tickets for this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival go on sale at 9am, Friday March 16.

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