As many of us turn to literature for guidance and inspiration, contemporary writers have the power to interpret and influence our changing world. Hear lauded author George Saunders' Opening Night Address on the Festival's theme of refuge.

This is an excerpt from the 2017 Sydney Writers' Festival Opening Night Address.

George Saunders is the author of nine books, including Tenth of December, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and won the inaugural Folio Prize (for the best work of fiction in English) and the Story Prize (best short story collection). He has received MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships, the PEN/Malamud Prize for excellence in the short story, and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Lincoln in the Bardo is his long-awaited first novel.

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