Melbourne Writers' Festival is taking place this week from 8–11 September. NewSouth is delighted to have our authors there at a range of wonderful events.
Eda Gunaydin, Beyond Binaries ― Friday 9 September, 3–4pm
Three of the most exciting nonfiction debut authors in Australia share insight into blending personal narrative and confession with broader social commentary. Hear from Eloise Grills (big beautiful female theory), Eda Gunaydin (Root & Branch) and Bastian Fox Phelan (How to be Between) as they reflect on works that unsettle neat binaries while traversing matters of gender, sexuality, trauma, diaspora, kinship and resilience. They are joined in discussion by Maeve Marsden.
Eda Gunaydin, Mistakes Were Made — Friday 9 September, 6.30–7.30pm
To err is human, proverbial wisdom tells us. But fessing up to our blunders is another matter altogether. Hear from a line-up of writers, thinkers and comedians as they bravely divulge the defining mistakes they’ve made in their personal and professional lives. From the silly to shocking, humbling to hilarious, listen to just how badly they got it wrong and what they learned along the way. Featuring one of Australia’s most trusted doctors, Norman Swan, acclaimed singer-songwriter Sally Seltmann, award-winning comedian and broadcaster Sami Shah, comedy writer and author Sinéad Stubbins, and essayist and debut author Eda Gunaydin, in conversation with Jacinta Parsons.
How do you weave together ideas, technique and tone into a captivating essay collection? Critically acclaimed essayist Eda Gunaydin guides you through the art of shaping a collection of your work, from posing a central inquiry and working a throughline into a manuscript, to building coherence through theme and voice and crafting individual essays using hybrid forms like theory and memoir. Gunaydin shares insight from her own craft as a writer and critic of class, race and diaspora, and the process of publishing her recent essay collection Root & Branch.
Randa Abdel-Fattah, New World Disorder — Sunday 11 September, 3–4pm
From the invasion of Ukraine and the curtailing of freedoms in China to the subjugation of women’s rights in the US and the dispossession of Palestinians, the global order is lurching into uncharted territory. Hear from a panel of experts as they discuss how world events are undermining stability, civil liberties and prosperity in Australia and abroad. Palestinian Egyptian Muslim activist Randa Abdel-Fattah (Coming of Age in the War on Terror), terrorism and extremism expert Lydia Khalil (Rise of the Extreme Right) and US history and politics expert Emma Shortis (Our Exceptional Friend) speak with interviewer and broadcaster Sally Warhaft.
Randa Abdel-Fattah, 11 Words for Love — Saturday 10 September, 3–4pm
The new book 11 Words for Love is a lyrical and heartwarming tale that takes children on a journey through 11 Arabic expressions for love. Join its award-winning author Randa Abdel-Fattah and its acclaimed illustrator Maxine Beneba Clarke for an interactive session about their joyful story exploring all the ways we love, created for children of all backgrounds. The event features a reading and conversation, as well as hands-on activities for kids all about finding their own meaning of love.
Jeff Sparrow, Hope vs the Climate Crisis — Friday 9 September, 12–1pm
After apocalyptic bushfires and floods, Australian voters cast a stunning rebuke of climate inaction at this year's federal election. At this crucial moment of opportunity, how can we replace despair with optimism, ambition and purpose, even as experts warn that we are fast running out of time? A panel of the country's leading thinkers on the climate crisis consider how climate fatalism can be as harmful as denialism and why hope might be our greatest tool in mitigating environmental catastrophe. Featuring award-winning climate scientist Joëlle Gergis (Humanity's Moment), First Nations environmental justice campaigner Tishiko King and Walkley Award–winning writer Jeff Sparrow (Provocations, Crimes Against Nature), in conversation with Environment Reporter at The Age Miki Perkins.
Jeff Sparrow, The MWF Big Debate: Nihilism Makes Life Worth Living — Saturday 10 September, 6.30–7.30pm
Nihilism doesn’t necessarily mean sucking the joy out of life, in fact a nihilistic attitude can make life all the more worth living – or at least that’s what Paul Beatty’s book The Sellout made a case for. He writes of nihilism as ‘not giving a fuck’, a determined ‘unwillingness to succeed’, an idea taken up by Chelsea Watego in her chapter ‘Fuck Hope’ in Another Day in the Colony. But don’t we need hope to get by? To envision and claim a better future? Activist and scholar Angela Davis thought so, stating ‘We can’t do anything without optimism’.
In the inaugural MWF Big Debate from First Nations Curator Chelsea Watego, two teams comprising our sharpest minds and wittiest word-wielders go head-to-head to argue the case for and against hope. In the affirmative corner, Jackie Huggins, Jamal Nabulsi, Philly and Jeff Sparrow take a nihilistic nose-dive. And in the negative, Jane Caro, Akuch Kuol-Anyieth, Teela Reid and Mykaela Saunders make a bullish case for optimism. All under the keen eye of adjudicator Nayuka Gorrie and hosted by Tarneen Onus-Williams. Who will you pin your hopes on?
In the face of urgent crises – be it the climate collapse, deaths of First Nations peoples in custody, or sexual abuse in the highest halls of power – newsrooms are tasked with making crucial decisions about what to report and how. But what values underpin news coverage today? Do media outlets really serve the public interest or are there more commercial motives at heart? And how do newsrooms report responsibly without overwhelming readers? ABC Indigenous Affairs Editor Bridget Brennan, journalist Sarah Malik (Desi Girl), Guardian Australia‘s political reporter Amy Remeikis (The Reckoning) and political writer Jeff Sparrow (Provocations, Crimes Against Nature) consider the duties of our newsrooms, with Sophie Black.
Jeff Sparrow, Crimes Against Nature — Saturday 10 September, 11am–12pm
Walkley Award–winning journalist Jeff Sparrow discusses his seventh book, Crimes Against Nature, which recasts ordinary people as the solution rather than the problem when it comes to preserving our planet. Telling stories of hope with 'the lucidity and animation of a true crime podcast' (The Saturday Paper), Sparrow uses fresh material to offer a more optimistic take on the most pressing issue of our time. With Elizabeth McCarthy.
Jeff Sparrow, The Power of the People — Sunday 11 September, 3–4pm
What can we learn from the history of regular people coming together to fight for change? Hear from Walkley Award–winning journalist Jeff Sparrow and comics artist and illustrator Sam Wallman as they discuss the struggles, successes and ambitions of collective action. Sparrow’s book Crimes Against Nature recasts ordinary people as the solution rather than the problem when it comes to preserving our planet. Wallman’s longform comic Our Members Be Unlimited celebrates the humanism at the heart of the trade union movement. They are joined in conversation by Elena Gomez.