For the ninth Sydney Writers? Festival we brought 70 international guests to Sydney to talk about their work. They came from all corners of the globe including Bosnia, Iraq, France, Israel, the Netherlands, Ireland, Canada, East Timor, Singapore, Nigeria, Mexico and, for the first time, Russia.
Anna Politkovskaya was special correspondent for the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and acted as a mediator in the Nord-Ost theatre siege in Moscow.
Michael Burleigh, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction, spoke about religion and terrorism. For close to 100 years The New Yorker magazine has showcased the world?s greatest literary voices. This year, we were joined by The New Yorker Festival director Rhonda Sherman, along with staff writers Andy Borowitz, Susan Orlean and Aleksandar Hemon, and senior editor Hendrik Hertzberg.
I?m thrilled Naomi Wolf was here, as well as Iraq frontline reporter Mark Danner and Iraqi-born Haifa Zangana, who fled that country.
Our line-up was not limited to news and non-fiction. We also had stellar literary figures, including our third Booker Prize-winner in a row, John Banville.
Edmund White, the United States? man of letters, was a highlight.
Dr Maya Angelou spoke via satellite (thank you, Telstra) from New York. She is an incredible writer of fiction, poetry, plays and films, and an important civil rights activist.
We also had a wonderful list of Australian writers, including Alex Miller, Robert Drewe, Commonwealth Writers? Prize-winner Kate Grenville, Les Murray, Tegan Bennett Daylight, Peter Singer, Tim Flannery, Gail Jones and more than 200 others.
As well as events at many of our usual venues, philosopher Alain de Botton delivered our closing address at the Sydney Opera House.
The Festival also appeared in Wollongong, Newcastle, the Blue Mountains, Orange, Dubbo, Penrith, Parramatta, Cabramatta and Casula.
This is my last festival as director. These past four years have been an honour and a privilege and I want to thank you for your support.
Festival Director 2003 - 2006