Whether you are seeking escape, challenge, inspiration or delight, you’ll find your next favourite book at this special panel event as some of the Festival’s most exciting novelists introduce their acclaimed new releases. In conversation with Michael Williams, they share insight into rich and rewarding stories traversing love and family, war and art, the past and the future. Featuring Sally Colin-James (One Illumined Thread), Sophie Cunningham (This Devastating Fever) André Dao (Anam), and Fiona McFarlane (The Sun Walks Down).

Supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.

André Dao (Australian)

André Dao

André Dao is a Melbourne-based writer, editor and artist. His debut novel, Anam, won the 2021 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. His writing has appeared in Meanjin, Sydney Review of Books, Griffith Review, The Monthly, The Lifted Brow, Cordite, The Saturday Paper, New Philosopher, Arena Magazine, Asia Literary Review and elsewhere. Anam will be published in Australia in May 2023 by Penguin Random House Australia, and in August 2023 in the United Kingdom by Picador.

Sophie Cunningham (Australian)

Sophie Cunningham

Sophie Cunningham is the author of nine books, including the novel This Devastating Fever and the essay collection City of Trees. She is also a teacher, mentor, climate change activist and every day she posts an image of a tree on her Instagram @sophtreeofday. A Member of the Order of Australia for her contributions to literature, Sophie is the Chair of the Australian Society of Authors and an executive director of the Copyright Agency.

Sally Colin-James (Australian)

Sally Colin-James

Following a successful career in communications and event management, Sally gained an Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship to complete a PhD in professional writing. One Illumined Thread won the 2020 HNSA Colleen McCullough Residency Award, the 2020 Varuna PIP Fellowship Award and a placement with the Australian Writers Mentoring program. She has been the recipient of the Byron Bay Writers' Festival Mentorship Award and her work was shortlisted from 2,000 entries across 54 countries for the international 2021 First Pages Prize.

Fiona McFarlane (Australian)

Fiona McFarlane

Fiona McFarlane is the author of The Night Guest, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, and The High Places, which won the Dylan Thomas Prize. Her latest novel is The Sun Walks Down, and her short stories have been published in The New Yorker, Best Australian Short Stories, and Zoetrope: All-Story. She teaches fiction at the University of California, Berkeley.

Michael Williams (Australian)

Michael Williams

Michael Williams is the editor of The Monthly. He was previously the Artistic Director of Sydney Writers’ Festival which he joined in September 2020, navigating the post-pandemic landscape going into the 2021 festival. He has spent the past decade at the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne; as its founding Head of Programming in 2009, and then as its Director from September 2011. A regular host and interviewer for literary and ideas events around Australia – including a long-standing association with Sydney Writers’ Festival – his background is in publishing and broadcasting. He has hosted two shows on ABC Radio National – Blueprint for Living (2015-2016) and Talkfest (2017-2018) – was a regular on ABC TV’s The Book Club, and remains a regular guest on ABC radio and TV. Michael has also worked as a Breakfast presenter for Melbourne’s 3RRR, as a member of the Australia Council’s Literature Board, in publishing in Australia and New York, and has written extensively for The Guardian, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and elsewhere. He is currently also host of Guardian Australia’s monthly book club.