From debates around Australia Day to refugee intakes, the so-called culture wars are an ever-present fixture in the nation’s media. Three of the Festival’s most exciting voices come together to reflect on fiction’s ability to examine and upturn the conventional wisdom of Australia’s past and present, and discuss their approach to shining a light on uncomfortable home truths. Hear Felicity Castagna (No More Boats), Melanie Cheng (Australia Day) and Claire G. Coleman (Terra Nullius) in conversation with ABC RN’s Kate Evans.

Melanie Cheng (Australian)

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Melanie Cheng is a writer and general practitioner. Of Chinese-Australian heritage, she was born in Adelaide, grew up in Hong Kong and now lives in Melbourne with her family. Her writing has appeared in The Age, Meanjin and Overland among others. In 2016, she won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. Australia Day (2017) is her first book.

Felicity Castagna (Australian)

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Felicity Castagna is the author of the multiaward-winning novel The Incredible Here and Now, and its stage adaptation. Her collection of short stories Small Indiscretions was named an ABR book of the year. Her work has appeared on ABC Radio and TV as well as in national journals and newspapers. She has taught creative writing all around Australia and currently runs the storytelling series Studio Stories. Her latest novel is No More Boats. She is the Director of Finishing School, a project that aims to provide long-term mentoring for western Sydney women, writing their first books.

Claire G. Coleman (Australian)

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Claire G. Coleman is a Wirlomin Noongar woman whose ancestral country is in the south coast of Western Australia between Esperance and Albany. In 2016 she was awarded a Black&Write Indigenous Writing Fellowship for a manuscript she wrote while travelling around the continent now called Australia in an old troop-carrier and a ragged caravan. Her debut novel is Terra Nullius.

Kate Evans (Australian)

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Kate Evans presents The Bookshelf on ABC RN with Cassie McCullagh, after years of interviewing writers for RN Books and Arts and Books Plus, as well as working across a whole slew of other RN programs. She regularly appears on stage in conversation with writers and artists. She has a PhD in history, cannot get through a day without reading fiction, and has a wildly idiosyncratic system of shelving and piling up books.