Explore the 2024 Program

From the archives: Helen Garner

Helen Garner, one of Australia’s most celebrated and esteemed writers, has been awarded the 2023 ASA Medal from the Australian Society of Authors.

Established in 2003, this prestigious accolade is awarded biennially to an Australian author or illustrator who has made an outstanding contribution to Australian culture, both as a creator and an advocate.  

 Over the years, we have been delighted to welcome Helen Garner to Sydney Writers’ Festival to discuss her body of work – both fiction and non-fiction. Dive into our archives of conversations with Helen Garner and discussions of her work and influence on other writers.

Crime and Justice

We are fascinated by stories of crime and how they unfold. There are no finer narrators of such stories than legendary author Helen Garner and The Teacher’s Pet podcaster Hedley Thomas, whose work explores the link between confronting terrible things that happen and the people who are involved. In this podcast from the 2023 Sydney Writers' Festival, Helen and Hedley sit down with Sarah Krasnostein to explore the compelling nature of crime and the pressing question of what happens when justice takes a lifetime – or if it never comes at all?

Helen Garner's Diaries

It is not surprising that Helen Garner has kept a diary for almost all her life – chronicling her thoughts, observations, frustrations and joys. Beginning in the late 1970s, following the publication of Monkey Grip, these accounts of her everyday life invite us into the world behind her celebrated work. In this special podcast from 2019, hear Helen in conversation with Michael Williams for an intimate insight into the mind of one of our greatest writers.

Helen Garner’s Savage Self-Scrutiny 

Helen Garner is one of Australia’s most admired writers of novels, short stories, screenplays, essays and non-fiction in a career spanning more than 50 years. In her non-fiction, she writes with a tough and unsparing honesty about both her subjects and herself. In this podcast from the 2018 Sydney Writers' Festival, the author, described by The New Yorker as “a recording angel at life’s secular apocalypses”, speaks to Matthew Condon about the power of reflection and self-scrutiny, and considers just how impartially writers can observe themselves and others.

Helen Garner: Lives and Writing

For decades Helen Garner has been a chronicler of the intimate lives of Australians, both in fiction and non-fiction. In Helen’s book, This House of Grief, she tells the true story of Robert Farquharson, who drove a car carrying his three sons into a dam. At the 2015 Sydney Writers' Festival, Helen sat down with Tegan Bennett Daylight to talk about the book and her long career in writing.

Helen Garner: How Can We Write About Darkness?

As the author of The First StoneJoe Cinque’s Consolation, and This House of Grief, Helen Garner is no stranger to stories of humanity’s darker side. In this illuminating talk from 2015, Helen shares a few of the many sources that have inspired her non-fiction writing, from crime-scene photo archives to the poetry of Charles Reznikoff and the writings of Janet Malcolm.

Dreams of Her Real Self: Writers on Helen Garner

Both celebrated and controversial, Helen Garner’s illustrious career has been distinguished by a trademark candidness. At the 2017 Sydney Writers' Festival, Garner fans Bernadette Brennan, Jennifer Byrne, Annabel Crabb, and Benjamin Law speak to Rebecca Giggs about her influence.

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