SYDNEY: Sydney Writers Festival 2021

SYDNEY: Sydney Writers Festival 2021

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SYDNEY: Sydney Writers Festival 2021

Hosted By: Sydney Writers' Festival

Carriageworks, 245 Wilson St, Eveleigh NSW 2015 | 30 Apr 2021 12:00 AM

Sydney Writers Festival

Sydney Writers' Festival is about celebrating the voices that extended our world when it felt small. It’s about the books that defeated the distance. It’s also a celebration of coming back together as a community. Rejoining one another in the same room for a shared passion: to hear and tell and challenge stories. And that’s what a festival is. It’s there in the name. A celebration. A party, even.

The theme this year, Within Reach, highlights the astonishing writers who are shaping Australian literature right now. It recognises those authors who show us an Australia that is not monolithic or static but varied, curious and challenging. We have gathered the many diverse and exciting writers who are right here, within our reach – asking questions, raising their voices and defining this culture.

Within the pages of the program, you’ll uncover a wealth of conversations both urgent and contemplative. Names that have filled your bookshelves for a lifetime, and voices and talents you’re discovering for the first time. Characters and stories that made the pandemic that little bit more bearable.

Literature brings ideas and flights of fancy within reach of our everyday life. Brilliant minds bring solutions and possibilities within reach of being realised. A festival brings us within reach of one another again.'

 - Michael Williams, Artistic Director


This year Sydney Writers Festival play host to some incredibly talented authors, including some of Hardie Grant’s own: 

Sarah Dingle:


Fri 30 April, 11am ABC Radio Live: Conversations

Richard Fidler, presenter of ABC Radio’s Conversations, hosts a live broadcast with Sarah Dingle (Brave New Humans: The Dirty Reality of Donor Conception), who as an adult learned that her identity was not what she thought it was.

Sun 2 May, 12pm Sarah Dingle & Kaya Wilson

Two new memoirs explore the discovery of long-held family secrets and their resounding intergenerational effects on how we understand ourselves. When Kaya Wilson came out to his parents as transgender, a year after a near-death surfing accident and just weeks before his father’s death, he was met with a startling family history of concealed queerness and shame. Sarah Dingle was 27 when her mother mentioned over dinner that Sarah had been conceived via a sperm donor, but when she began digging she discovered only destroyed records and dead ends. Kaya (As Beautiful As Any Other) and Sarah (Brave New Humans: The Dirty Reality of Donor Conception) discuss their memoirs and confronting life’s complexities compassionately with Maeve Marsden.

Bruce Pascoe:


Fri 30 April, 2pm Iconic Duos

Join three recipients of The Next Chapter writers’ scheme and their mentors – Dan Hogan and Rebecca Giggs; Oliver Reeson and Maria Tumarkin; and Jonathon Slottje and Bruce Pascoe – as they discuss the varied forms of support for emerging writers, and the unique qualities of writing mentorships, in conversation with Sophie Black. Run by the Wheeler Centre, The Next Chapter scheme gives 10 outstanding emerging writers the time and space to write, and a 12-month mentorship with an experienced writer.

Sun 2 May, 10.30am Land of Plenty

Across the world, Australia is a beacon of unique biodiversity and rich natural resources, yet its land, water and wildlife are devastatingly mismanaged. Four environmental experts join ABC Radio’s Philip Clark to share an urgent call for change. Richard Beasley was the senior counsel assisting for the Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission, and his new book Dead in the Water explores that environmental catastrophe. Bruce Pascoe, author of Dark Emu and co-author of Loving Country, has been recovering Indigenous agricultural practices, helping to reshape how we manage Australian land. Victor Steffensen specialises in using traditional knowledge for environmental wellbeing, and his book Fire Country calls for the revival of cultural burning practices and improved ‘reading’ of Country. Rebecca Giggs’ creative and scholarly writing focuses on themes of ecology and environmental imagination, animals, landscape, the uncanny, politics and memory. Her debut narrative non-fiction book is Fathoms. When it comes to restoring our land of plenty, there’s plenty of work to do – and quickly.

Sun 2 May, 2.30pm Bruce Pascoe & Vicky Shukuroglou

After a year in which border closures dashed overseas travel plans, Loving Country: A Guide to Sacred Australia is a timely guidebook by Dark Emu author Bruce Pascoe and co-author and photographer Vicky Shukuroglou. It offers a new way to explore and fall in love with Australia by seeing it through an Indigenous lens. The duo speaks with ABC Radio National’s Daniel Browning about their beautifully designed road map that celebrates some 65,000 years of inhabitancy, from the love stories of Wiluna to fish traps at Brewarrina and rivers that feed the Great Barrier Reef.


Trevor Watson & Melissa Roberts:

Fri 30 April, 2.30pm The Beijing Bureau


The Beijing Bureau focuses on the stories and hard-won knowledge of Australia’s foreign correspondents in China – covering everything from Gough Whitlam’s first handshake with Mao Zedong half a century ago, to Beijing’s decision to withdraw the welcome mat for Australian reporters late last year. Hear from contributors Sue-Lin Wong (The Economist) (appearing live via video), Hamish McDonald (Sydney Morning Herald) and Jane Hutcheon (ABC) as they share insights into the everyday life of the Chinese People, Beijing’s treatment of journalists on the ground and what the rise of China heralds for Australia and the wider world. Leading the panel are the anthology’s editors, Melissa Roberts and Trevor Watson.

Victor Steffensen:

Sun 2 May, 10.30am Land of Plenty

Across the world, Australia is a beacon of unique biodiversity and rich natural resources, yet its land, water and wildlife are devastatingly mismanaged. Four environmental experts join ABC Radio’s Philip Clark to share an urgent call for change. Richard Beasley was the senior counsel assisting for the Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission, and his new book Dead in the Water explores that environmental catastrophe. Bruce Pascoe, author of Dark Emu and co-author of Loving Country, has been recovering Indigenous agricultural practices, helping to reshape how we manage Australian land. Victor Steffensen specialises in using traditional knowledge for environmental wellbeing, and his book Fire Country calls for the revival of cultural burning practices and improved ‘reading’ of Country. Rebecca Giggs’ creative and scholarly writing focuses on themes of ecology and environmental imagination, animals, landscape, the uncanny, politics and memory. Her debut narrative non-fiction book is Fathoms. When it comes to restoring our land of plenty, there’s plenty of work to do – and quickly.


Kate Ellis:

Sun 2 May, 12.30pm  Women in Politics

This year marks 100 years since the first woman was elected to Australian parliament. Despite significant gains for women in politics, recent headlines leave us in no doubt of the volatile, hostile and harmful environment politics can be for women. The numbers in federal parliament speak for themselves, while reports of sexism and harassment abound. Labor MP Kate Ellis (Sex, Lies and Question Time: The Successes and Struggles of Women in Australia’s Parliament), Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi, former independent MP Cathy McGowan (Cathy Goes to Canberra: Doing Politics Differently) and journalist Annabel Crabb talk about how the gender divide runs deeper than party lines and the harsh costs of that divide, with historian Clare Wright (You Daughters of Freedom).



For the full programme visit swf.org.au.