Three of the world’s most celebrated literary figures open Sydney Writers’ Festival, each delivering an address on the Festival’s theme of refuge. As many of us turn to literature for guidance and inspiration, contemporary writers have the power to interpret and influence our changing world. Critically acclaimed essayist and novelist Brit Bennett (The Mothers), Man Booker Prize-winning writer Anne Enright (The Green Road) and lauded author George Saunders (Lincoln in the Bardo) share the stage in an unmissable opening event.

Event includes Opening Night formalities. 

Brit Bennett (International)

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Brit Bennett is an essayist and the author of the critically acclaimed debut novel The Mothers, which became a New York Times bestseller. In 2016 Bennett was a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and won the NBCC John Leonard First Novel Prize. Named as one of the 5 Under 35 Promising New Novelists by the National Book Foundation in 2016, the New York Times Book Review called her work ‘ferociously moving’. Her writing is featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Jezebel. Brit's Jezebel essay, I Don’t Know What to Do With Good White People, generated more than a million hits in three days. She is currently working on her second novel.

Anne Enright (International)

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Anne Enright is the Man Booker Prize-winning author of novels and short stories. She is one of the world’s greatest contemporary writers whose work explores the richness of life and complexities of being human. Best known for The Gathering, her work also includes The Portable Virgin, The Wig My Father Wore, What Are You Like? and The Forgotten Waltz, which was awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. Her short stories have appeared in several magazines including The New Yorker and The Paris Review. Her most recent book, The Green Road, was shortlisted for the Bailey’s Prize and the Costa Novel Award, and won the Irish Novel of the Year. It was described by the Guardian as a ‘brilliant, devastating and radical novel’. Enright is the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction.

George Saunders (International)

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George Saunders is the author of nine books, including Tenth of December, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and won the inaugural Folio Prize (for the best work of fiction in English) and the Story Prize (best short story collection). He has received MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships, the PEN/Malamud Prize for excellence in the short story, and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2013, he was named one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time magazine. He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Syracuse University. Lincoln in the Bardo is his long-awaited first novel.