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Sydney Writers’ Festival 2012 – what’s on highlights

May 14, 2012toMay 20, 2012



Sydney Writers’ Festival 2012.  Free and ticketed events.  The Sydney Writers’ Festival Program Highlights

  • 14 – 20 May 2012

Sydney Writers’ Festival, now in its 15th year,  is a highlight of the country’s cultural calendar. For one week in May, the powerful voices of novelists, journalists, poets, politicians, biographers and songwriters will delight audiences with a mix of stimulating conversation and robust debate about current issues – and of course, lots of fun.

Sydney Writers’ Festival 2012 program highlights
The 2012 Writers’ Festival explores the territory of the private and the personal in a variety of ways, beginning with its Opening Address, “The Private Moment” [Event 5], delivered by Hisham Matar, the Man Booker-shortlisted author of In the Country of Men whose latest book is Anatomy of a Disappearance. “Even private life is infiltrated by a totalitarian regime,” says the Libyan novelist. “To write and describe how people love differently under this situation is an artistic act of resistance.” Matar, whose father was kidnapped by Gaddafi’s regime in the early ’90s (and is still missing), speaks of our need to give the private moment its worth and shows us it is fiction that best articulates these emotions.

The full SWF program of events and writers is available on the Sydney Writers’ Festival  website. Tickets went on sale 9am Saturday 31 March.  Copies of the program will be available from bookshops, libraries and venues.

The Sydney Writers’ Festival will conclude with Dava Sobel reflecting on that remarkable astrological event, the Transit of Venus [Closing Address, 242]. In between, the Festival will showcase a range of notable international writers:
• Jeffrey Eugenides, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Middlesex, The Virgin Suicides, and more recently The Marriage Plot in his first-ever visit to Australia.
• Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings whose sensational article led to the sacking of General Stanley McChrystal, the US Army’s Commander in Afghanistan.
•  Jeanette Winterson talks about her confronting memoir Why be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
• Jeff Kinney, creator of the phenomenally successful children’s book series Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
• Stella Rimington former head of British Secret Service MI5, now bestselling thriller writer.
• Former CIA interrogator Glenn Carle talks about his questioning of Al-Qaeda suspects.
• Peter James, one of the UK’s most treasured crime and thriller novelists.
• Award-winning journalist and activist Heather Brooke who broke the UK parliamentary expenses scandal.
• Biographer Anne Sebba sheds new light on the secrets of the Duchess of Windsor.
• Jesmyn Ward, winner of the 2011 US National Book Award for Fiction, for her extraordinary novel about a poor black family preparing for the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina.
• With internet freedoms under threat of government regulation, Jeff Jarvis tells us why the internet’s liberating benefits must be protected.
• Exuberant Australian expat Kathy Lette, whose latest book touches on some very personal territory – a woman raising an autistic boy.
• In The Hare with Amber Eyes Edmund de Waal follows the story of his Jewish banking family in 19th century Europe by tracking a collection of tiny Japanese sculptures. He talks to Caroline Baum in his only appearance in Australia.
• Popular literary favourite Roddy Doyle returns to Australia for the first time in over a decade.
• Irish playwright, novelist and poet Sebastian Barry revisits the Dunne family in his latest novel On Canaan’s Side.

Hilary Mantel will talk about Bring Up the Bodies, her sequel to the extraordinary Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, in a special appearance from the UK live via satellite, timed to coincide with the 476th anniversary of Anne Boleyn’s execution. [Bring Up the Bodies, 185]

Loretta Napoleoni, Italian journalist and economist, believes that Western capitalism can learn from China’s stunning economic transformation. [Business Breakfast: Mao on Toast, 6]
In his new book Zona Geoff Dyer explores the mysteries of a Soviet-era film Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, that has haunted him since he saw it 30 years ago. Geoff Dyer Could Say Anything [Event 19] but before you hear him talk, be sure to attend a special screening of Stalker [Event 10].

Russian journalist Masha Gessen’s biography of Vladimir Putin is a study of the brutal use of political power to achieve a bold personal agenda. [The Man Without a Face, 141]
Acclaimed Irish novelists Roddy Doyle and Sebastian Barry talk to Tom Keneally about the woes that have befallen their homeland [The Troubles with Ireland, 63].
We delve into the intricacies of the human brain with cognitive psychologist Barbara Arrowsmith Young (who changed her brain) and neuroscientist Marc Lewis (who charts how his responded to the various substances he ingested in his wild youth). [The Woman Who Changed Her Brain, 29, Memoirs of an Addicted Brain, 96, Brainy Days, 159].

Sydney Writers’ Festival continues to champion the very best of Australian writing with authors including: Robert Dessaix, Frank Moorhouse, Kerry Greenwood, former-High Court judge Michael Kirby, Drusilla Modjeska, Catherine Deveny, Peter Corris, Elliot Perlman, Anita Heiss, Michael Robotham, Geoffrey Blainey and Miles Franklin Award-winners Steve Carroll, Carrie Tiffany and Rodney Hall.

Independent politician Bob Katter talks about his new history of Australia and his love of country to fellow Queenslander Kevin Rudd. [Katter Country Event 228]
Former NSW state minister Frank Sartor talks to Kevin Rudd’s former press secretary Lachlan Harris about how the ALP has lost its way and needs fundamental reform. [Labor’s Love’s Lost, Event 15]

Historian Bill Gammage’s research into Aboriginal stewardship of the land prior to colonisation forces us to see Australia through completely new eyes. He talks to historian Lyndall Ryan about the implications for our future. [The Biggest Estate on Earth, 17]
Frank Moorhouse, Nick Bryant and Robyn Archer will discuss Australia’s hidden history of being both pragmatic and visionary. They argue it is time to revive this tradition, celebrate it and propel it into the future. [What is Australia For?, 18]

Peter Hartcher, Paul Cleary and George Megalogenis take a hard look at our economic surge amid global financial woe. With Andrew Clark. [What the Luck, 49]

Tom Griffiths, Kim Mahood and Geoff Page will explore the role of historians, writers and poets in capturing tales of renewal and hope to help us survive natural and human disasters. [Surviving: The Australian Way, 213]

Bestselling Aboriginal author, poet, satirist, social commentator and member of the Wiradjuri nation Anita Heiss challenges racial perceptions with her hot-off-the-press memoir Am I Black Enough for You? [Event 28]

Sydney Writers’ Festival isn’t just for adults! There is a bumper crop of fantastically fun kids’ events:
Get a rare-opportunity to see the drawing talents in action of multi-award winning picture-book author and illustrator Bob Graham [Stories with Bob, 219]. Join the treasure hunt with Wally of Where’s Wally fame [Kid’s Corner, 196] and don’t forget your marker pens when you join Aleesah Darlison in creating a colourful unicorn of your own [Unicorn Tails, 199]. Line up early for Andy Griffiths as he reveals his new Just! book [Completely, Utterly and Categorically Doomed, 203].

Icelandic poet, songwriter and author, Sj?n who collaborated with Björk on the Academy-Award nominated song I’ve Seen it All from the movie Dancer in the Dark. Now he talks about his work including his latest books, From the Mouth of a Whale and The Whispering Muse. [More Than a Music-Loving Elf, 25]
Susan Swingler, stepdaughter of Elizabeth Jolley, lifts the veil on the famous Australian author’s private life and secrets. [The House of Fiction, 111]
Chad Harbach, America’s literary debut of the year, and Australia’s Malcolm Knox explore the literary appeal of cricket and baseball. [It Takes Balls, 85]
Who says that women only write fiction about women or families? Authors of principal male characters Kirsten Tranter and Deborah Robertson challenge the conventional wisdom. [Women on Men, 112]

FESTIVAL NIGHTS – The SWF Festival Club (Pier 2/3 Walsh Bay) comes alive with nightly entertainment from Wednesday 16 May until Saturday 19 May:
The stars come out at night in events across the CBD, perfect for the after-work crowd or for a special night on the town.
Wednesday 16 May: Sydney Opera House
• Diary of a Wimpy Kid with Jeff Kinney
• Jeanette Winterson
Thursday 17 May: City Recital Hall, Angel Place
• The Troubles with Ireland: Roddy Doyle, Sebastian Barry and Tom Keneally
• Jeffrey Eugenides
Friday 18 May: Sydney Town Hall
We present events that explore the politics of the public and the private:
Can’t Be That Hard Prime Minister Julia Gillard told the Canberra Press Gallery: “Don’t write crap. Can’t be that hard.” But what responsibility does the media bear for our political culture? George Megalogenis, Annabel Crabb, Peter Hartcher, Malcolm Turnbull and Lachlan Harris pick apart the issue with Virginia Trioli. [Can’t Be That Hard, 125] 

You Must Have Something to Hide In the age of phone-hacking, Twitter and terrorism, can we draw the line between the public and the private? Michael Kirby – former High Court judge, Stella Rimington – former director general of MI5, Glenn Carle – former CIA interrogator, Jeff Jarvis – renowned media and news blogger and Heather Brooke – trailblazing investigative journalist, speak to David Marr. [You Must Have Something to Hide, 131]

Saturday 19 May: Sydney Town Hall
Inspired by two great social movements of the past forty years we demonstrate that the personal is very political:
Why Get Married When You Could Be Happy? If marriage is a civil right, does the struggle for the right to marry dampen the diversity of lifestyles available to gay people? Join Jeanette Winterson, author of the bestselling memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, pioneering champion of gay liberation Dennis Altman, memoirist Benjamin Law and Russian author Masha Gessen, as they share their personal views and experiences.  [Event 188]
The Feminist Supremacy? Meryl Streep says Margaret Thatcher was a feminist. George Bush claimed one reason we went to war in Afghanistan was to fight for women’s rights. If everyone is appropriating the term, has the idea lost its meaning? Join a lively discussion with Kathy Lette, Catherine Deveny, Tara Moss and Emily Maguire.  [Event 192] 
Presenting four nights of The Chaser, a live freewheeling talkfest with Festival guests, provoking lively discussion, hardcore Q&A, complemented with live music performance. [16-19 May inclusive; 12, 70, 132, 193]
Join a story slam at FBi Radio’s All the Best as they take to the stage for a night of storytelling exploring the notion of privacy. [FBi’s All the Best: The Great Unveiling, 67]
Catch writers and performers turning their craft to a night of smut and hilarity as Erotic Fan Fiction returns for one (seedy) night only. [Erotic Fan Fiction, 128]. 
Revel in a feast of words as an award-winning, Brooklyn-born Puerto Rican wordsmith, Australia’s Poetry Slam Champion and two acclaimed playwrights serve up a potent cocktail of sheer poetry. Expertly mixed by Lemon Andersen, Luka Lesson, Skye Loneragan and Benito Di Fonzo. Hosted by the director of Word Travels, Miles Merrill. [Spoken Four, 191]
Revealing the secrets of youth . . . They were meant to be forever private but now Marieke Hardy, Monique Schafter, Eddie Sharp and Nick Coyle make public excerpts from the diaries they wrote as teenagers. [Teen Diaries, 133]

In a first for Sydney Writers’ Festival we warmly invite you to join us at IVY for the book industry’s premier night of nights, celebrating the best Australian books and recognising our best authors, booksellers and publishers from the past year. [The Australian Book Industry Awards, 18 May, event 129]

Once again, Sydney Writers’ Festival is honoured to host these award ceremonies acknowledging winning writers as part of its 2012 program: The National Biography Award – 14 May, The Patrick White Playwrights’ Award and Fellowship – 18 May, The Finch Memoir Prize – 19 May, The Pascall Prize for the Critic of the Year – 19 May and The Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelists – 20 May.

Events: Did you know that more than half of the Sydney Writers’ Festival events are FREE? They also take place in varied venues across Sydney with many in Walsh Bay’s Pier 2/3 and Pier 4/5, Sydney Theatre, Sydney Town Hall, City Recital Hall Angel Place and the Sydney Opera House. SWF extends its number of suburban events, held in areas including Hornsby and Kensington, Ashfield and Ingleburn, amongst others, plus a dedicated series of events happening in Western Sydney’s Penrith, Parramatta and the Blue Mountains area.

 6/ Tickets go on sale to the general public at 9am, Saturday 31 March.
7/ An exciting dedicated Sydney Writers’ Festival smartphone app will be available to download from the Festival website in April.

Where does the Festival take place?
Many events take place at Pier 4/5 and Sydney Theatre at Walsh Bay. We also use other city venues including Sydney Town Hall, City Recital Hall, Sydney Opera House and The Mint. In 2011, our regional and suburban program included events in Parramatta, Ashfield, Auburn, Blacktown, Bankstown, Hornsby, Penrith, the Blue Mountains and Wollongong.

Do I need to buy tickets to attend SWF events?
The Festival is made up of a combination of ticketed and free events.

Admission to free events at Pier 4/5 is on a first come, first served basis. Bookings are not taken for these events. Patrons are encouraged to arrive early as free events are extremely popular and seats are limited.

The majority of free events held at regional and suburban venues require that you reserve a seat in advance. Booking details are listed against each event in the program.



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