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Sydney Writers Festival – Live and Local

Sat 4 May

One of Australia’s best-loved forums for literature, ideas and storytelling

After the success of Live & Local in 2018, Sydney Writers’ Festival returns to Wollongong Town Hall in 2019.

One of Australia’s best-loved forums for literature, ideas and storytelling, Sydney Writers’ Festival will stream its headline events from Carriageworks in Sydney direct to Wollongong on Saturday 4 May.

Prepare to be stimulated and engaged by conversations, debates and discussions, as the Festival brings the world’s finest authors to Wollongong Town Hall in real time. As well as hearing new ideas from great thinkers, audiences have the opportunity to participate in Q&A sessions at each event, sending questions direct to the Sydney stage.

Be part of Live & Local, streamed live by Sydney Writers’ Festival and delivered locally to Wollongong Town Hall.


Live Stream Schedule – ticket required

Venue: The Music Lounge, Wollongong Town Hall

11.30am – 12.30pm – The Kingdom and the Power: Saudi Arabia – Manal al-Sharif, Ms Saffaa, Sophie McNeill (Facilitator)
1.30pm – 2.30pm – Whose ABC? – Mark Scott, Jonathan Holmes, Marc Fennell, Margaret Simons, Sally Warhaft (Facilitator)
3.00pm – 4.00pm – Jenny Erpenbeck: Go, Went, Gone – Jenny Erpenbeck, Michelle de Kretser (Facilitator)
4.30pm – 5.30pm – Boys to Men: The Masculinity Crisis – Adam Liaw, Clementine Ford Jan Fran (Facilitator)


Live & Local Sessions – free sessions open to the public

Venue: Main Auditorium, Wollongong Town Hall

11.00 – 11.25am – In conversation with Helena Fox
12.35 – 1.25pm – Women in Art – Julie Keys, Chloe Higgins
2.35 – 2.55pm – In conversation with Alyssa Montgomery ‘traditional-publishing-vs-indie-publishing’
4.05 – 4.25pm – Mike Cavanagh on ‘A Pocket Full of Days’

Session 1 - The Kingdom and the Power: Saudi Arabia

Presenter/s: Manal al-Sharif, Ms Saffaa
Facilitator: Sophie McNeill
11.30am – 12.30pm

Since becoming Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman has pushed a new public relations vision of a country in which women are free to drive, attend sporting matches and enjoy live music. But the arrest and torture of feminist activists, oppression of queer people, enduring male-guardianship laws and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi reveal a darker truth. Four Corners reporter Sophie McNeill joins Australian-based Saudi Manal al-Sharif – founder of the #WomenToDrive movement – and street artist, PhD candidate and creator of #IAmMyOwnGuardian, Ms Saffaa, to discuss women’s and queer rights in Saudi Arabia, experiences in the country, self-exile and hopes for the future.

This event is part of the Thinking Globally series, supported by UNSW Arts & Social Sciences.

This is a live stream event. Ticket required.

Session 2 - Whose ABC?

Presenter/s: Mark Scott, Jonathan Holmes, Marc Fennell, Margaret Simons
Facilitator: Sally Warhaft
1.30pm – 2.30pm

The ABC is about to turn 90, yet seldom has the public broadcaster seen such controversy: public spats, budget cuts, accusations of bias, political pressure and leadership tensions. Sally Warhaft talks to On Us author and former ABC managing director Mark Scott (in a rare appearance discussing the broadcaster), On Aunty author and former Media Watch host Jonathan Holmes, host of ABC podcast Download This Show and co-anchor on SBS VICELAND’s The Feed Marc Fennell and journalist Margaret Simons about Michelle Guthrie’s dismissal and why the broadcaster must adapt to survive a new era of media.

This is a live stream event. Ticket required.

Session 3 - Jenny Erpenbeck: Go, Went, Gone

Presenter/s: Jenny Erpenbeck
Facilitator: Michelle de Kretser
3.00pm – 4.00pm

Jenny Erpenbeck’s masterful new novel Go, Went, Gone explores the sometimes fraught and always complex relationship between a retired classics professor and a group of African asylum seekers in Berlin. The Guardian praises Jenny as “Europe’s outstanding literary seer” while The New Yorker likens her to J.M. Coetzee and V.S. Naipaul. She joins Michelle de Kretser to discuss her powerful response to the refugee crisis and explore some of the questions it raises about race, immigration and identity.

Supported by the Goethe-Institut

This is a live stream event. Ticket required.

Session 4 - Boys to Men: The Masculinity Crisis

Presenter/s: Adam Liaw
Facilitator: Clementine Ford Jan Fran
4.30pm – 5.30pm

Clementine Ford’s Boys Will Be Boys is an acclaimed call to action against a culture of entitlement, privilege and power. Jan Fran talks Clementine and writer and chef Adam Liaw about the harm toxic masculinity inflicts on women and men, the progress we’re making to counteract it, and how we can raise our boys to become better men.

This is a live stream event. Ticket required.

Live and Local

These are free events. No ticket required.

In conversation with Helena Fox

Helena Fox’s debut novel, How It Feels To Float, has been described as ‘a stunning, gutting, deeply hopeful YA novel about love and loss and living with mental illness, from an exceptional new voice.’ Having mentored young writers for many years, Helena will sit down with one of her talented young students to discuss her novel and the personal journey she took in writing it. The novel will be published in North America and Australia/NZ in May 2019.

Women in Art

Great artists have long provided subject material for novelists but it was the lack of prestige for women painters that drew author Julie Keys to the art world of 1920’s Sydney.

Join Julie in conversation with Chloe Higgins as she talks about the exclusion of women’s voices from our past, writing strong female protagonists, her debut novel The Artist’s Portrait and her pathway to publication.

In conversation with Alyssa Montgomery ‘traditional-publishing-vs-indie-publishing’

Join Alyssa Montgomery in this short discussion about publishing.  Alyssa enjoys writing pacy, passionate contemporary romance novels and her favourites involve some plot twists. These novels are published through traditional publishing methods.  Alyssa also writes medieval romance under the pen name Alyssa James, and these texts she self publishes.  In this conversation Alyssa will discuss the differences between these publishing choices, sharing with us some of the tensions and rewards of each.

Mike Cavanagh on ‘A Pocket Full of Days’

Mike will talk about his two-part memoir, A Pocket Full of Days, via addressing three questions: What makes moments matter? What makes people matter? Does it matter? Mind you, he doesn’t claim to know the answers, but pretty much guarantees the discussion will be all sorts of challenging, and fun. Which sort of already answers the questions, doesn’t it? Oh well, he’ll come with a Plan B just in case.

Coming Up…