Sydney Writers' Festival: Something to Talk About

Things to do, Fairs and festivals
An illustration of rapper, writer and actor Briggs
Photograph: Supplied/SWF

Time Out says

The book-lover's favourite fest is back, and they're bringing out the big guns this Sydney Festival

Many of our most adored events from the annual cultural calendar had to fleet-footedly leap online instead of IRL this year, including the Sydney Writer’s Festival’s pivot to podcast. Not only was the Great Indoors beginning at the time the Festival usually happens, but the beloved bibliophile festival’s usual home Carriageworks had its own drama unfolding too.

But 2021 is, after all, another year. Which is why we’re stoked that SWF will field a capsule festival back where it belongs, in the beautiful brick Eveleigh structure during this year’s Sydney Festival, with four fantastic events spread across the weekend of Saturday, January 16 and 17. Super-cool rapper, actor and children’s writer Briggs will be joined by the legendary Archie Roach and yet-to-be-annoucned fellow First nations storytellers in a brill-sounding session called Our Home, Our Heartbeat. The nation’s smoothest-voiced health reporting touchstone Norman Swan will join Walkley Award-winning investigative journalist Kate McClymont, multi-garlanded writer Maxine Beneba Clarke, Indigenous author Gayle Kennedy and other special guests to predict what 2021will bring in An Educated Guess: Predictions, Prescriptions and Wild Hopes for the Year Ahead.

Festival faves Jennifer Byrne, Michael Mohammed Ahmad and Benjamin Law will each champion one beloved classic, one international book and one Australian release that may have got overlooked in this palaver of a year in Recommended Reading, hosted by newly minted artist director Michael Williams. And just because the reality is that our lives are at least partly digital now, there will also be one superstar guest beamed in for the fest. In a huge coup, this year’s Booker Prize-winner Douglas Sturt will speak live from New York about his stunning semi-auto-biographical novel Shuggie Bain.

Williams is as chuffed as we are about this sparkling summer line-up. “We’re back with a summer showcase, bringing the city the best of public discourse,” he says. “There’ll be imaginings and arguments, polemics and poetry, declarations and conversations.”



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