Once the sun sets you may feel the urge to scurry home and cosy on up in your favourite book nook, but at this year's Sydney Writers’ Festival, more awaits with our After Dark events. Whether you're mixing it up with a mid-week after-work outing, or looking to kick off into the weekend, here's our guide to the 2023 Sydney Writers’ Festival for the nocturnally inclined.  

Grab a drink from the bar and get ready for discussion on podcasts, life changing dinners, self-love, queer joy, and hear from some of the Festivals must-see authors including Bernardine Evaristo, Daniel Lavery, Wil Anderson, Shehan Karunatilaka and much more.

Tuesday 23 May

Opening Night Address: How the Past Shapes the Future

Carriageworks, Bay 17, 6:30pm

Join us as we kick off the Festival with our spellbinding Opening Night Address at Sydney Town Hall, where a group of extraordinary writers discuss the different ways our past is prologue. Whether coming to terms with the past is joyful, tragic or disquieting, it's necessary if we hope to imagine and create a future worth living in. Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo, writer and broadcaster Benjamin Law and Miles Franklin Award winner Alexis Wright take the stage followed by a performance from acclaimed poet Madison Godfrey. 

Wednesday 24 May

Bernardine Evaristo: A Writing Life

Carriageworks, Bay 17, 6pm

When lockdowns hit back in 2020, Bernadine Evaristo's Girl, Woman, Other was on everyone's book club reading list as she became the first black woman and black British author to win the Booker Prize. In an unmissable event, she takes the stage for a wide-ranging discussion of her fascinating life in letters, spanning fiction, poetry and memoir. Acclaimed for blurring the boundaries of genre while touching on class, gender and sexuality, her recent memoir, Manifesto: On Never Giving Up, illuminates her creativity through the prism of her heritage and life. She appears in conversation with Sisonke Msimang for an unforgettable night that delves into her inspirations, career and hard-won path to artistic achievement. 


Shehan Karunatilaka: The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida

Carriageworks, Bay 17, 8pm

Stick around after Bernardine to be introduced to 1980s Sri Lanka. The teardrop island nation is being torn apart by civil war; enter our narrator, the ghost of gay, atheist photojournalist Maali Almeida. Winner of the 2022 Booker Prize, Shehan Karunatilaka's The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida follows a week in the afterlife where Maali reckons with his sexual escapades, gambling habit, and the state-sponsored death squads he sought to expose. Following in the footsteps of great Sri Lankan novelists such as Michel Ondaatje and Carl Muller, Shehan speaks with Michael Williams about a novel that breaks with conventional modes of storytelling to illuminate the humanity and horrors of wartime Sri Lanka.

Thursday 25 May


Carriageworks, Bay 17, 7:30pm

Get philosophical with comedian and host of Gruen Wil Anderson, as he joins us for a live recording of his Wilosophy podcast, where he “asks smart people stupid questions and tries to find out the meaning of life”.  

Wil recently published a comedic memoir, I Am NOT Fine, Thanks, and will be joined by special guest Brigid Delaney, journalist and author of Reasons Not to Worry: How to be Stoic in Chaotic Times, which draws from ancient philosophy to offer practical tips on everything from beating FOMO to how best to relinquish things beyond our control. 



Carriageworks, Bay 20, The ARA Stage, 7:30pm

Vulnerable and fierce, heartbreaking and hilarious, Queerstories invites five LGBTQIA+ writers to share a little piece of themselves: the tale they want to tell but are never asked to. Host Maeve Marsden will be joined by Sophie Cunningham, Shane Jenek aka Courtney Act, Daniel Lavery, Joshua Whitehead, and Leanne Yong. Queerstories celebrates the culture and creativity of the queer community, one true story at a time. 

Friday 26 May

Daniel Lavery: Dear Prudence and more

Carriageworks, Track 8, 6pm

Internet darling Daniel Lavery lifts the lid on his writing life and Dear Prudence, a collection of the weirdest and wildest questions received during his tenure as Slate’s agony aunt, with Mon Schafter. Filled with his always sympathetic, thoughtful and good-humoured advice, it offers a good dose of sense and compassion in an increasingly wonky world. Daniel reveals the secrets to dispensing wise counsel and talks about his broader career as the co-founder of legendary website The Toast and a New York Times–bestselling author. 

Love Sermon

Carriageworks, Bay 17, 8pm

“We mistake romantic love for being the only kind of love that matters, but this is just one small part of human connection. Our Love Sermon will have you laughing and weeping in equal measure, but most of all it will remind you that the gift of loving in all its messy complexities is at the heart of what it means to be alive.” Clementine Ford, Women’s Agenda 

Unrequited romance. Deep friendship. Motherhood. Break-ups. Self-love  

Writer and broadcaster Clementine Ford and musician Libby O’Donovan team up to present a secular sermon on matters of the heart. Featuring intimate musical performances, Love Sermon is an honest, unflinching, and life-affirming exploration of the many forms love takes, and the powerful ways it makes its home in our hearts. 

Saturday 27 May

Performing Lives

Carriageworks, Track 8, 6pm

What does it mean to live a life in the public eye? Host Maeve Marsden joins a panel of performers as they discuss their memoirs that chart the highs, lows and challenges of their lives on stage screen and within community. 

Mawunyo Gbogbo’s Hip Hop & Hymns recounts growing up African-Australian and forging a media career in New York. Shane Jenek’s Caught in the Act charts his hard-won journey to fame as drag artist Courtney Act. Heather Mitchell’s Everything and Nothing depicts the light and shade that co-exist in love, family and the arts. 



Carriageworks, Bay 20, The ARA Stage, 7:30pm

Crime. Podcasts. Do we have your attention? Did podcasts kill the radio star – or completely revitalise storytelling for the 21st century? Will podcasts rank among the most exciting cultural innovations of our times? Join a special line-up of crime podcasters featuring Patrick Abboud, Kate McClymont, and Hedley Thomas for a discussion about the rise of the medium and how it's changing journalism. Hosted by Schwartz Media’s 7am host, Ruby Jones. 

The Dinner That Changed My Life

Sydney Town Hall, 6pm

How can a dinner change the course of a person’s life? That's exactly what hosts Annabel Crabb and Adam Liaw are asking Shaun Christie-David, Matthew Evans, Rosheen Kaul, Asma Khan, Nat’s What I Reckon, Jennifer Wong, Alice Zaslavsky, Damien Coulthard and Rebecca Sullivan. Hear all about the epiphany moments that reshaped their destiny, from superbly cooked meals to epic failures, this stellar and diverse line-up of cooks, writers and storytellers won't disappoint.

Sunday 28 May


Carriageworks, Track 8, 4pm

We are full of worlds that can’t be contained by a pill. Admissions: Voices within Mental Health is a ground-breaking anthology documenting mental health in Australia through poetry and prose. Join the ABC’s Space 22 participant Mohammad Awad, Wakefield creator Kristen Dunphy, cooking champion and mental health advocate Nat’s What I Reckon, and award-winning author Kirli Saunders, alongside editor David Stavanger, for a polyvocal show of force and difference as they explore writing about mental health from lived experience.  


Closing Night Address: Richard Flanagan

Carriageworks, Bay 17, 6pm

Join us for the last hurrah of the 2023 Festival with Australian author Richard Flanagan. Whether in his magical realist tale of climate crisis The Living Sea of Waking Dreams or Booker Prize–winning window into the cruelty of war, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard has used fiction to explore some of the great topics of our time. In an unmissable Closing Night Address, he talks about the vital importance of telling our own stories to shape the future.