Man Booker Prize-winner Paul Beatty (The Sellout) and award-winning author Roxane Gay (Difficult Women) both use humour to write about the trauma of history. According to The Guardian, The Sellout ‘has a joke-per-line ratio that a comedy writer would kill for, but the humor is nowhere near safe’. Roxane’s Difficult Women is a collection of stories of hardscrabble lives, passionate loves, and quirky and vexed human connection. They talk to Michael Williams about using bleak, provocative humour with purpose. 

Michael Williams (Australian)

Michael Williams

Michael Williams joined Sydney Writers’ Festival in September 2020, as the Artistic Director 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 GuardianThe AgeSydney Morning Herald and elsewhere. He is currently also host of Guardian Australia’s monthly book club.