Sometimes it's the youngest voices that carry the most gravitas. This year's Festival features a wealth of new talent, including a 26-year-old debut novelist whose lyrical prose won her a place on the New York Times' bestseller list, the tastemaker who made history by becoming a Condé Nast editor at 29, and the literary wunderkind who was named a finalist for Italy's prestigious writing prize, The Strega, when she was 23.

From poetry to publishing, performance to delivering data in creative ways, this new generation of writers is making their mark on the world — both on the page and off.

We’ve profiled just a few to catch this year...

Brit Bennett

Why you should know her: A dazzling example of publishing in the Internet age, Brit first came to fame for her viral Jezebel essay, 'I Don’t Know What to Do With Good White People', which was viewed over a million times in just three days. 'That piece pretty quickly led me to my agent, which pretty quickly led me to selling the book,' Brit said. The book – her debut novel, The Mothers – was an immediate New York Times bestseller, and was described as 'warm and tender and necessary' by author Yaa Gyasi. Exploring themes of race in America, friendship, and community, Brit’s work is lyrical and assured, and has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and The Paris Review


Why you should see her: Whether talking on refuge, exploring the nuances of contemporary feminism, discussing her debut novel, or examining the complexities of race in America, this is your chance to hear one of the most exciting, tapped-in voices in the literary world right now. 

Viola Di Grado

Why you should know her: Italian novelist Viola Di Grado's debut, 70% Acrylic 30% Wool, won the 2011 Campiello First Novel Award, was a finalist for Italy's most prestigious literary prize, The Strega, and went on to be published in 10 languages – all when Viola was just 23. Now 29, the prodigiously talented writer has released her second book Hollow Heart, cementing her considerable skill for vivid prose and dark humour.

Why you should see her: This is your chance to hear from a glittering writer and thinker, both on her own acclaimed work, and the underlying forces of sex and death in literature, and being a 'nasty woman' in the age of Trump.

 

Anuk Arudpragasam

Why you should know him: An unforgettable literary debut, Anuk Arudpragasam's novel The Story of a Brief Marriage examines suffering, warfare and the human spirit, set during the Sri Lankan civil war. The book went on to be named one of the Best Ten Novels of 2016 by The Wall Street Journal and was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize. A PhD student in philosophy at Columbia University, Anuk is set to become a profound new voice in modern literature.

Why you should see him: This is an unmissable chance to join the celebrated new novelist as he discusses his work, examines race in both literature and culture, meditates on the role of empathy in reading and writing, and delves into the intersections of safety, belonging, violence, sexuality and ethnicity in both love and writing..

Elaine Welteroth

Why you should know her: Elaine Welteroth is a singular force in magazine publishing – and she's only 30 years old. With a finger on the pulse of youth culture and an unshakeable belief in the power of young women, Elaine has expanded Teen Vogue's editorial direction to explore politics, social justice, and representation in Trump’s America, alongside with stalwarts of fashion, beauty and pop culture. Along the way, Elaine is helping to forge a new way forward for a rapidly-changing industry.

Why you should see her: How can art be used as a tool of resistance in an increasingly turbulent world? What does this generation of young women want from their magazines? And how can they protect themselves against prejudice and racism? If you’ve ever wondered these questions, Elaine is set to explore the answers.

Peter Polites

Why you should know him: The Western Sydney-based writer is an exciting new voice in Australian fiction and one of this year's Guest Curators. As part of the Sweatshop collective, Peter Polites explores ideas and assumptions about multiculturalism and contemporary Australia through performance writing and fiction. His debut novel, Down the Hume, is unpretentious and spare, melding the Greek migrant experience with queer noir.

Why you should see him: Australian literature is at an exciting moment, and Peter is involved in some of the most intriguing Australian-focused sessions of the Festival: from discussing his own fiction, to exploring questions the non-English tradition in Australian writing, to launching Sweatshop’s new anthology featuring writers from migrant, refugee and Indigenous backgrounds.

Mona Chalabi

Why you should know her: A vital voice in the age of data-driven journalism, Mona Chalabi possesses the rare gift to make facts and numbers feel both accessible and incredibly relevant to our lives. Whether writing for The Guardian or The New York Magazine, presenting for the BBC and VICE, or posting hand-drawn charts on Instagram, Mona has the ability to highlight just how important numbers are in pushing an agenda.

Why you should see her: From post-Brexit England, to the current state of immigration, to contemporary America, to casual conversation with some of the sharpest minds at the Festival, Mona brings the hard facts to the big questions, all in her inimitably compelling way.