Every few years, another scientific study proves that reading literary fiction enhances the empathy and social skills of readers. Authors discuss how complex characters and nuanced narratives allow readers to empathise with those seemingly very different to themselves. Anuk Arudpragasam (The Story of a Brief Marriage), Michelle Cahill (Letter to Pessoa), bestselling author Margo Lanagan (Swarm) and Graeme Simsion (The Best of Adam Sharp) talk with Grace Menary-Winefield about writing empathy, and how authors can help us to understand the minds of others.

Michelle Cahill (Australian)

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Michelle Cahill is a Sydney writer and critic. Her short story collection, Letter to Pessoawon the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for New Writing and was shortlisted in the Steele Rudd Queensland Literary Awards. Her honours include the Arts Queensland Val Vallis Award, the Hilary Mantel International Short Story Prize and the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Prize shortlist. Other works are Vishvarūpa, which was shortlisted in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, and The Herring Lass, published by Arc (UK). She was the CAL/UOW Poetry Fellow at Kingston Writing School and a Visiting Creative Writing Scholar at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. She co-edited Contemporary Asian Australian Poets and is Series Editor for the Vagabond Press deciBels3. She is a Doctoral Candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Wollongong.