Across four literature-filled days, more than 400 of the world's leading writers and public intellectuals will come together to dissect this year's theme, Lie to Me. From politics to pop culture, history to human rights, we're sharing some of our daily highlights to help you make the most of your Sydney Writers' Festival experience.
Friday 3 May
This year’s theme, Lie to Me, speaks not only of the lies we tell ourselves and each other, but of the power of writers to cut through them. Examining the role of literature in bringing issues of expulsion and migration to the forefront, Jenny Erpenbeck, and Omid Tofighianas discuss stories of nationhood and statelessness with human rights and refugee advocate Julian Burnside QC.
11.30am – Future D. Fidel: Prize Fighter
A further reflection on the power of literature to unpack powerful issues, Future D. Fidel is the writer of the critically-acclaimed play and debut novel, The Prize Fighter. The work draws heavily on Fidel’s experiences of fleeing the Congo as an orphan and spending years in a Tanzanian refugee camp before finding freedom in Australia. He discusses his story in Future D. Fidel: Prize Fighter, with Michael Mohammed Ahmad.
1.30pm – Can You Spot A Liar
From fiction writers to those who expose lies for a living, Can You Spot A Liar brings together crime and corruption reporter Matthew Condon, Gold Walkley–award winning investigative journalist Kate McClymont and forensic psychiatrist Dr Calum Smith to reflect on the crimes they’ve solved, the scandals they’ve exposed and the discoveries they’ve made about the inner workings of the deceitful mind.
3pm – Beth Macy: Dopesick
Another writer whose work has centred on unwrapping complex layers to reveal the truth is Becy Macy, author of The New York Times bestseller, Dopesick, a fast-paced account of America’s battle with opioid addiction. Through unsparing yet deeply human portraits, Beth gives a human face to those affected in both struggling communities and wealthy suburbs. In conversation with The Monthly's US Correspondent Richard Cooke, Beth discusses how over-treatment with painkillers became the norm in America’s medical culture.
4.30pm – David Marr: My Country
One of Australia’s most unflinching and forensic reporters of Australian politics, few are better at canvassing the Australian experience than David Marr. A perennial Festival favourite, David joins Sally Warhaft in David Marr: My Country to share insights into his illuminating reportage and storied career.
Bringing an afternoon of unpacking complex social, economic and historical issues to a close, pre-eminent British historian and one of the greatest chroniclers of the Second World War, Antony Beevor will take to the Town Hall stage to discuss his outstanding body of work, including his latest release, Arnhem. He’ll be introduced by Kate Evans and will talk about his gripping, authoritative works of military history – elucidating his superbly written and forensically researched account of the failed Allied paratroopers’ campaign to seize bridges leading to the Rhine in 1944, as detailed in his new bestseller.
8.30pm – The Second Shelf
Finish the day strong with a stellar line-up of female writers as they consider: are women writers still forced to play by different rules than their male colleagues? Between them, this line-up of literary luminaries – including Meg Wolitzer, Kristen Roupenian and Krissy Kneen – is responsible for the character for which Glenn Close was nominated an Academy Award; 'Cat Person' — the most shared piece of fiction in The New Yorker website’s history; and a smash-hit play that’s been staged more than 100 times around Australia.