'The danger you have to negotiate is not the dimpled coyness of the past – it is its obscenity.' So argued Hilary Mantel, taking aim at ‘grumbling’ in literary circles about historical fiction. ‘Chick-lit with wimples’ it ain’t, she says. Taking up the debate are Melissa Ashley and Liam Pieper, who have written about periods ranging from Nazi Germany to 19th century Ireland. They talk to Ashley Hay and tackle the question: can we engage with the present without revisiting the past?

Please note: Annabel Abbs and Hannah Kent will no longer be appearing at this event.

Ashley Hay (Australian)

Ashley Hay

Ashley Hay is a novelist and essayist whose awards include the Foundation of Australian Literary Studies’ Colin Roderick Award, the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Peoples’ Choice, and the Bragg/UNSW Press Prize for Science Writing. Her writing has been shortlisted for awards including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and Queensland Literary Awards, and longlisted for prizes including the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Miles Franklin. Her novels include The Body in the Clouds and A Hundred Small Lessons. She is the editor of Griffith Review.