Readers already know from this column something of the forthcoming Perth International Festival (13 Feb-7 Mar) with its huge Journey of the Giants street marionettes from Royal de Luxe in Nantes, the Mark Morris Dancers from New York along with William Christie’s Les Arts Florissants in a brilliant program by Director Jonathan Holloway. But in among the performing arts wonders is the Perth Writers’ Festival (19-22 Feb). Writers’ festivals are pure heaven to sensitive people and a source of interest to some who can read.
The Writers’ program for Perth is so jam-packed that it is hard to tell whether there will be enough to meet the emotional needs of really sensitive people but there is hope for them in the presence of Hugh Mackay, Geraldine Doogue, Mary Delahunty Bob Brown and Michael Mori.
There is also a recording of an episode of the ABC’s Book Club chaired by the irresistible Jennifer Byrne. (Too late, it’s already booked out; you’ll have to watch it on the television).
Among those not obviously politically correct is Andrea di Robilant, the italian journalist and writer who spent many years in the US but now moves between Rome and Venice. His first novel, which made his reputation, was A Venetian Affair (2005). He will be discussing his newest book Chasing the Rose.
A top session should be the rather surprising combination of Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) and Hilary Mantel. Everyone knows Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, her twice Booker Prize-winning and best-selling historical novels; her latest is a short story collection The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher. Hilary’s a Dame (DBE) but that’s OK.
Other interesting sessions will be those involving Hamish McDonald (no relation), the Asia expert foreign correspondent whose successful books have included Mahabharata in Polyester about immensely rich Indians, the Ambani brothers. His forthcoming book A War of Words, based on Japanese sources, is the intriguing story of Charles Bavier and his sons. This Hamish McDonald is not to be confused with Hamish Macdonald (no relation either) who was so impressive on Radio National Breakfast in January.
If all that literary stuff gets too much there are splendid performances around the corner as well as the Giants on the street. Taken together, the Perth International Festival and the Writers’ Festival are a triumph of planning and artistic direction.
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