A very special Sydney Writers’ Festival edition of Giant Dwarf’s The Full Catastrophe: a live show about when life was so bad it was funny. Some of the Festival’s most distinguished guests come together in front of a live audience to share a painful and hilarious incident in their lives. Hosts Sarah Macdonald and Rebecca Huntley welcome guests Zack McDermott, Johann Hari, Emma Glass and Sam Dastyari.

Presented with Giant Dwarf.

Supported by the University of Sydney.

Zack McDermott (International)

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Zack McDermott worked as a public defender for The Legal Aid Society of New York for six years. His work has appeared in The New York Times, This American Life, Deadspin and other publications. His new memoir, Gorilla and the Bird: A Memoir of Madness and a Mother’s Love, chronicles Zack's bipolar disorder and the extraordinary ways his sharp, stalwart mother (aka 'the Bird,' who once dubbed him 'Gorilla' because of his hulky chest and excessive body hair) helped him live through it. Gorilla and the Bird has been optioned by Channing Tatum’s production company for a television series.

Emma Glass (International)

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Emma Glass is a writer and a paediatric nurse from Swansea. She studied English literature and creative writing at the University of Kent, then decided to become a nurse and went back to study children’s nursing. She lives in North London and is a senior clinical research nurse at Evelina London Children’s Hospital. Peach is her visionary debut.

Johann Hari (International)

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Johann Hari is a New York Times bestselling author. His first book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs has been translated into 15 languages and is currently being adapted into a major Hollywood film, and into a non-fiction documentary series. He is one of the most-viewed TED talkers of all time: his talk, ‘Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong’, has (along with the animation based on it) been viewed more than 20 million times. He has written over the past seven years for some of the world’s leading newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Spectator, Le Monde Diplomatique, and Politico. He was twice named National Newspaper Journalist of the Year by Amnesty International.

Sam Dastyari (Australian)

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Sam Dastyari was born in Iran to student activists and arrived in Australia aged four. He has worked with Hawker Britton and served as General Secretary of New South Wales Labor. He was appointed to the Senate in 2013, promoted to the shadow outer ministry in 2016, and became the manager of opposition business in the Senate and spokesperson for consumer affairs. Sam formally resigned from the Senate in January 2018. He is now an Associate Director at Essential Media.

Rebecca Huntley (Australian)

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Rebecca Huntley is one of Australia's foremost researchers on social trends. For nearly nine years, Rebecca was at the global research firm Ipsos running the Mind & Mood Report, Australia's longest-running social trends report. She is the author of numerous books including Still Lucky: Why You Should Feel Optimistic About Australia and Its People. She is on the Artistic Advisory Board of the Bell Shakespeare Company, a board member of The Whitlam Institute and an adjunct senior lecturer at the School of Social Sciences at The University of New South Wales.

Sarah Macdonald (Australian)

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Sarah Macdonald is a broadcaster and writer. She currently presents Weekend Nightlife on ABC radio for insomniacs and night owls. Sarah’s written for various publications and her travel memoir Holy Cow has sold more than a quarter of a million copies and translated into several languages.