Annabel Crabb is one of Australia's most beloved journalists, and delights audiences every time she appears on stage at Sydney Writers' Festival. This year, she will host the Festival's first BooKwiz, featuring Leigh Sales, Richard Fidler and Julie Zemiro, and will talk to Dennis Glover about his illuminating novel, The Last Man in Europe.
My Feminism Will Be Intersectional Or It Will Be Bullshit
This is an unbelievably awesome panel (Zinzi Clemmons, Nakkiah Lui, Aminatou Sow and Jenny Zhang, in conversation with Jamila Rizvi). I would cross an extremely busy road to hear any of these women speak, so to have them together makes it unmissable. Nakkiah Lui is a great Australian writer with endless reserves of creativity, rage and humour. And Jenny Zhang is one of the new writers I've most enjoyed in the past year. Sour Heart is confronting and tender and funny in equal parts. And her previous book, Dear Jenny, We Are All Find has such a brilliantly evocative title.
Min Jin Lee: Pachinko
Min Jin Lee's Pachinko is the book that recently nipped at my ankles like a dog looking for a walk. I couldn't leave it alone; it pursued me until all bajillion pages of it were read. It's that dream read; a compelling family drama that along the way teaches you about a chunk of history you might have missed. Such a good book. And now I want to know how she came to write it.
Gabriel Tallent: My Absolute Darling
Gabriel Tallent's My Absolute Darling was a shocking book on so many levels, and not for the faint-hearted. The most talked about book of 2017, and so on. It raises so many questions. Like: Is it possible to enjoy a book whose central character accepts the sexual abuse inflicted by her father, and loves him anyway? And the book is full of contradictions. A race-away plot, interspersed with quietly evocative descriptive passages about a child's interaction with the natural world. This book gives you about four dinner parties' worth of discussion. I'm going along to this session to check that this writer is really in fact 30 as claimed. Damn him to hell.
Dennis Glover: The Last Man in Europe
Yes yes, I know. I'm going to this one anyway because I'm the interviewer. But Dennis Glover's book, The Last Man in Europe, is one of the best I've read in the past year. It sounds so ambitious as to be doomed to failure; a fictionalised account of George Orwell's life. But he's pulled it off; he really has. It's brilliantly written and such a useful reminder of just how much Orwell suffered in order to write, what an extraordinary short life he lived, and his never-more-relevant warning about totalitarianism. Plus, there will be laughs!*
*We'll see how we go. Mainly the laughs will come from me teasing Dennis about his work as a political speechwriter.
I recently read Charlie Corke's book Letting Go, and it made me think so differently about death and how we approach it. How good are we about asking the dying what they really want? How much treatment is right for them? Or do we let our own fears and needs overwhelm theirs? I felt, after reading the book, that it should be handed out to everyone who is ever going to die. That is to say: Everyone. Plus I would go to anything with Geraldine Doogue in it, just so I can listen to THAT VOICE. (When I die I would like Geraldine to be there reading aloud to me please, just so you all know).