Sydney Writers' Festival Live & Local

One of Australia’s best-loved forums for literature, ideas and storytelling, Sydney Writers’ Festival will stream its headline events from Carriageworks in Sydney direct to Mudgee on Friday 4, Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 May. 

Prepare to be stimulated and engaged by conversations, debates and discussions, as the Festival brings the world’s finest authors to Mudgee in real time via digital live-streaming project, Live & Local. View the program below — attendance is via gold coin donation and bookings are not required. 


Friday 4 May

Jane Harper: Force of Nature

Jane Harper’s Force of Nature is the follow-up thriller to the runaway success of her debut, The Dry, which was sold into more than 20 countries and optioned for a film adaption by Reese Witherspoon. It continues the story of Australian police officer Aaron Falk, this time as he traces the disappearance of a missing bushwalker who was the crucial whistle-blower in his latest case. In conversation with ABC RN’s The Book Hub host Claire Nichols, the bestselling Australian author talks about the book and her remarkable success.

The Future of China

Xi Jinping has become China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong. But with his consolidation of power, the country has become more authoritarian, with increasing censorship and arrests of lawyers and activists. Three Festival authors uniquely placed to discuss China sit down with Linda Jaivin to talk about its political, economic and cultural future. Join Minglu Chen, senior lecturer at the Chinese Studies Centre at the University of Sydney; Robert E. Kelly, a professor of political science at Pusan National University; and Xue Yiwei, a prolific Chinese-born novelist, for a riveting and timely discussion.

Going Rogue: North Korea

North Korea is unlike any other nation today. Its citizens are sealed off from the world and only allowed access to state-run propaganda, and its volatile leader Kim Jong-un is considered a threat to world peace. But can an international crisis be averted? And amid the headlines, have we forgotten the plight of the North Korean people themselves? Political science professor Robert E. Kelly, Korean-American author Min Jin LeeKorea author Michael Pembroke and filmmaker and writer Anna Broinowski discuss the isolated nation with Linda Jaivin.

Conflicting Narratives

Three reporters share their perspectives on the role of storytellers in a time of ongoing conflict, terrorism and refugee crises, in conversation with The Guardian journalist Ben Doherty. The New Yorker staff writer Alexis Okeowo’s A Moonless, Starless Sky chronicles the resistance against extremism in Africa. Moscow-based correspondent for The Telegraph Alec Luhn has covered protests in Russia and the war in eastern Ukraine. The New Yorker staff writer Ben Taub has written about jihadi recruitment in Europe and war crimes in Syria.

Gareth Evans: Incorrigible Optimist

While political memoirs are often dry, self-congratulating affairs, The Canberra Times has described Incorrigible Optimist as a memoir crackling with “wit, self-deprecating humour and illuminating insights”. Gareth Evans covers the breadth of his colourful public life as a central figure in Australian politics and a significant voice in international policymaking for more than three decades. Kerry O’Brien sits down for a revealing chat with the man Bob Hawke once praised as having the most acute mind of any of his ministers.


Saturday 5 May

New Power

For millennia, power was something to be seized and jealously guarded. However, the rapid emergence of new technologies is changing the game. From Bernie Saunders to President Donald Trump, from taxis to B&Bs, new ideas, political movements and businesses now spread with astonishing speed. In conversation with Professor Susan Dodds, New Power authors Jeremy Heimans (co-founder of GetUp!) and Henry Timms draw on examples from politics, popular culture, business and social justice to explain the disruptive forces that are changing the course of our age.

Peter Greste: The First Casualty
Foreign correspondent Peter Greste spent two decades reporting from the frontline in the world’s most dangerous countries before making headlines himself following his incarceration in an Egyptian prison. The First Casualty is his enlightening firsthand account of how the war on journalism spread from the battlefields of the Middle East to the governments of the West. Fellow correspondent Hugh Riminton speaks to Peter about the extent to which investigative journalism is under threat in the age of terrorism and fake news.

Resisting Unjust Authority
Three of the Festival’s brightest minds come together to examine our evolving relationship with power. The Future is History author Masha Gessen, The Fox Hunt author Mohammed Al Samawi and A Moonless, Starless Sky author Alexis Okeowo consider how unjust authority is wielded and resisted in the modern world, how we can free ourselves from its messages and impact, and how these strategies are changing over time. This thought-provoking panel is curated and hosted by The Trauma Cleaner author Sarah Krasnostein.

Women in Tech: Okay Ladies, Now Let’s Get Information

Why do the tech and science industries remain a boys’ club after so many years? How are inroads finally being made? And who are the success stories bucking the trend? Join three inspiring speakers in conversation with Deb Verhoeven as they celebrate the incredible women of tech and science. Aminatou Sow is a digital strategist and co-founder of Tech LadyMafia; Angela Saini is a BBC science journalist and author of Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong; and Professor Elanor Huntington is the first female Dean of Engineering and Computer Science at the Australian National University.

Annabel Crabb's BooKwiz

Which book are you ashamed of loving? Which do you reread when you’re in a reading slump? What have you always meant to read but now suspect you never will? Beloved journalist and presenter Annabel Crabb returns to the Festival for BooKwiz, a thorough interrogation of some well-known readers, including ABC 7.30 anchor Leigh Sales, Conversations presenter Richard Fidler and – lending cult appeal – the RocKwiz host herself, Julia Zemiro.

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Sunday 6 May

Economic Inequality: From Wisconsin to Whyalla
Economic inequality is on the rise, including in Trump’s America and in Australia. Middle-class jobs are disappearing, especially in towns that relied on manufacturing. Where does this leave people in affected industries and areas, and the generation to follow? And what are the political implications for democracies? Join award–winning author Don Watson, Pulitzer Prize–winning staff writer for The Washington Post Amy Goldstein and economics professor Richard Holden in a wide-ranging conversation with ABC’s Chief Economics Correspondent Emma Alberici about the challenges posed by inequality today.

Cleo Wade: Heart Talk

Poet, artist and author Cleo Wade wants to know what has broken your heart, what has helped you heal and what wisdom you have gained along the way. The Heart Talk author sits down with journalist and The Motherhood editor Jamila Rizvi, Sour Heart author Jenny Zhang, and Peach novelist Emma Glass for a riveting and wide-ranging discussion about matters of the heart.

Tayari Jones: An American Marriage
The bestselling An American Marriage by Tayari Jones traces the lives of Roy, a black man wrongly convicted of rape, and his wife, Celestial. Widely lauded since its release, it became an official Book Club selection of Oprah Winfrey, who enthused: “It’s among Tayari's many gifts that she can touch us soul to soul with her words – and that those words are so glorious.” Glory Edim speaks to Tayari about her stunning novel of love, racial injustice and a marriage interrupted.

Sarah Ferguson: On Mother

Following the sudden death of her mother, renowned ABC journalist Sarah Ferguson penned On Mother, a poignant and moving reflection on their relationship over decades and across continents. After a career spent investigating some of Australia’s most high-profile news stories, she turned the focus onto her own family to examine the individual that existed beyond motherhood. In conversation with Louise Adler, the four-time Walkley Award–winning reporter reflects on the complex bonds shared between mothers and daughters.

Emily Wilson: Translating The Odyssey
In 2017, Emily Wilson became the first woman to translate The Odyssey into English. Her translation of the 12,110-line epic poem offered a fresh perspective on the rousing tale of shipwrecks, monsters and magic. Her text has been praised for its accuracy and an accessibility that brings the ancient work into the 21st century – perhaps raising the eyebrows of some Homer purists along the way. Speaking to Jennifer Byrne, Emily elaborates on her approach to translating the second-oldest text in Western literature and why it remains so vital today.

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