Writers’ Festivals may well be taking over the world. Worse things could happen but their expanding scale and level of public support is fascinating. Perhaps it’s a manifestation of the ageing population we’re always hearing about; at least such festivals take literate retirees off the streets for a few days. They could hardly do better than sign up for the Sydney Writers’ Festival (1-24 May). It seems to have something for everyone although more for some than others. Too many highlights so I’ll go here with personal choices.
That most courageous of writers, Helen Garner makes a couple of appearances including a special lecture How Can We Write About Darkness? Book-writing ex-prime ministers will be there: Julia Gillard on staying sane and John Howard on The Menzies Era and what it takes to be an effective leader. That most elegant of thinkers and writers, David Malouf will talk with Daniel Mendelsohn about their shared appreciation of the classics. Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales discuss their reading lives (who could resist?) James Patterson, said to be the world’s biggest selling author (news to me but he must be at 305 million copies) will reveal his plan to save the future of reading.
Writer and Boston surgeon Atul Gawande will discuss his Being Mortal, the realities of ageing today and what matters in the end, clearly aimed at the audience of retirees. There’s lots more but make reservations soon because the biggies sell out.
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