Explore the 2024 Program

Thursday’s Special Moments

Attending the Sydney Writers’ Festival can be a giddy and gleeful experience – especially when hopping from Bays to Tracks venues and back again, oscillating between your favourite authors on stage, world-expanding conversations, powerful stories that unravel the boundaries of imagination and intellectually punctilious discussions that pinpoint our greatest problems. Ideas, stories, memoir and poetry abound.

Here are just some of the special moments – and words – we captured yesterday. 

In The True History of Peter Carey, Peter Carey revealed he left ‘The’ out at the beginning of the title, True History of The Kelly Gang, so that it would feel more like a statement that Ned Kelly would nail to his shed’s wall, rather than something literary.

Helen Garner excites me...Richard Flanagan lifts me up.
Peter Carey

City Recital Hall was brimming with excitement last night as Kazuo Ishiguro joined the Festival from his lounge room in London. After a thrilling and touching conversation ranging from the unlimited potential of the imagination to what tea to offer an artificial being, a young boy came to the microphone to ask: “As an author, what are your tips?”.

Kazuo responded with poetic practicality, “Figure out first of all, do you actually want to write? Or do you just want to be a writer?...It’s perfectly alright not to be a writer. There are many ways we express ourselves in deep and valuable ways.” 


When Veronica Heritage-Gorrie and Kathryn Heyman took to the stage to share insights into their powerful memoirs of  adversity and perseverance, they were joined by another determined if unexpected guest – Veronica Heritage-Gorries’s grandchild, Festival Guest Curator Nayuka Gorrie’s child. Grandchild on knee, Veronica called out entrenched racism in Australia’s law enforcement and called for change.


When I Don’t Hold a Hose Mate: Leadership and Accountability – an incredible discussion between David Marr, Kate McClymont and Nick Feik, moderated by Shailalah Medhora –  came to a close yesterday, an audience member went to the microphone – not for a question, but a statement. “Thank you for delivering the truth, for being fearless,” they said. “Your life work takes risk. Thanks to you...I still have heroes.”   


Why does fiction survive and prosper? Because you enter the world, enter the book, it fires your imagination.
Chris Hammer

Three acclaimed authors on silence and the self came together for an engrossing conversation that certainly kept the audience in an awed hush. During the discussion, Donna Ward turned to Stephanie Dowrick to thank her for her work and the influence it has had on her life. “It was because of you,” she said. “Thank you.”  


To live with respect in a world worth living in. That’s what we seek. That’s what my people seek.
Stan Grant

Rachel Cusk described her experience of writers’ festivals as places with “a feeling of fraternity...a collegiate world of discussion and consideration. A place where writers come out into the world and see each other – a room full of Robinson Crusoe’s.” 


In a thrilling and captivating conversation on Australian crime fiction, Candice Fox revealed she has three beanies crocheted by a man currently on death row – and shares the same favoured flavour of chips with Lawrence Bittaker. 


We should live our poems. Poetry should be the way we live our life and not just something that sits on a page.
Kirli Saunders