Sydney Writers’ Festival announces 2020 lineup

Sydney Writers’ Festival has announced its lineup for 2020 with more than 400 Australian and international writers.

The announcement:

It’s Almost Midnight and Sydney Writers’ Festival guests are determined to wind back the doomsday clock

Credit: Prudence Upton

The 23rd Sydney Writers’ Festival runs from Monday 27 April to Sunday 3 May 2020 with more than 400 Australian and international writers considering the theme Almost Midnight.

The program includes the winner of the 2019 Booker Prize, Bernardine Evaristo; Nobel Peace Prize–nominated founder of the Umbrella Movement, Joshua Wong (appearing via video link from Hong Kong); award-winning author Bruce Pascoe; the New York Times bestselling non-fiction writer of Three Women, Lisa Taddeo; award-winning author of The Blazing World and Memories of the Future Siri Hustvedt; and actress Yael Stone.

Drawn from the metaphor of the Doomsday Clock and its current position of just 100 seconds to global catastrophe – the closest to ‘midnight’ we have ever been – Festival guests will discuss Almost Midnight in relation to notions of change, potential and renewal, over one week of conversation and storytelling.

Sydney Writers’ Festival takes place across the city at Carriageworks, The Seymour Centre, Town Hall, City Recital Hall, Parramatta Riverside Theatres, the Chatswood Concourse Theatre, as well as libraries and community centres across Greater Sydney. The Festival also broadcasts in real time to venues across the country with the Live & Local streaming program.

“At the beginning of every year, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists consider humanity’s chances of wiping itself out, using the metaphor of a Doomsday Clock striking midnight,” said Sydney Writers’ Festival Artistic Director, Michaela McGuire.

When the Cold War ended in 1991, nuclear weapons were disarmed, and the scientists positioned the clock’s hands at 17 minutes to, the farthest away from midnight that they’ve ever been. Yet since then, we have crept ever closer to midnight. Today, the two simultaneous existential threats of nuclear weapons and the climate crisis have been compounded by a third: “cyber-enabled disinformation campaigns” that prevent the public from galvanising and demanding change.

“In January this year, the clock lurched closer to the symbolic apocalypse than ever before: just 100 seconds to catastrophe. This year’s program celebrates the writers and thinkers who are writing and fighting to reverse the clock’s movement,” said McGuire.

“Across the festival program, writers will challenge careless rhetoric, call out defiance of scientific fact and talk about political paralysis. There will also be stories of hope and renewal. Seven days of conversations with the exhilarating, honest, clever, ambitious, joyful and disquieting writers who are reflecting and redefining the world around us “, said McGuire.

To open the Festival, 2019 Booker Prize winner and author of Girl, Woman, Other Bernardine Evaristo, and Gomeroi poet and author of Blakwork Alison Whittaker will deliver an address on the theme Almost Midnight. Nell Zink, acclaimed author of The Wallcreeper, Mislaid and Doxology, will deliver the closing night address.

Other 2020 Festival international headliners include: Lisa Taddeo (Three Women), Leslie Jamison (Make It Scream, Make It Burn), Jeff VanderMeer (Dead Astronauts), Nesrine Malik (We Need New Stories), Anna Wiener (Uncanny Valley), Colum McCann (Apeirogon), Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker (A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America), Eimear McBride (Strange Hotel), Anna Jones (The Modern Cook’s Year), Slate podcast Thirst Aid Kit co-hosts Bim Adewunmi and Nichole Perkins.

For the kids, Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants and Dog Man) and Raina Telgemeier (Smile and Guts). YA fantasy author Leigh Bardugo discusses the Grishaverse and All-Day YA takes place at Carriageworks for the first time, featuring UK author Alice Oseman (Heartstopper) and TeenCon 2020.

Further international writers of note include Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Birdman and author of The Crossed-Out Notebook Nicolás Giacobone; Julia Phillips, author of Disappearing Earth, one of The New York Times Best 10 Books of the Year; Iranian-born Golriz Ghahraman, the first refugee to be admitted to New Zealand Parliament, and author of Know Your Place; photographer and author of Afropean: Notes from Black Europe Johny Pitts; award-winning poet and author of Garments Against Women and The Undying Anne Boyer; Slate’s Dear Prudence columnist, New York Times bestselling author, and co-founder of cult website The Toast, Daniel Lavery (formerly Daniel Mallory Ortberg); author of Me and White Supremacy Layla F. Saad; Anishinaabe Canadian journalist Tanya Talaga, whose All Our Relations shines a light on how racism and intergenerational trauma have produced a global crisis; and Kevin Wilson, author of the hilarious modern fairytale Nothing to See Here.

Australian guests include Bruce Pascoe (Dark Emu and Salt), Miranda Tapsell (Top End Girl), Christos Tsiolkas [guest curator] (Damascus), Tara June Winch (The Yield), Archie Roach (Tell Me Why), Heather Rose (Bruny), Vicki Laveau-Harvie (The Erratics), Charlotte Wood (The Weekend), Clare Bowditch (Your Own Kind of Girl), Leah Purcell (The Drover’s Wife), Shaun Micallef (Mad As Hell and Back), Craig Foster & Hakeem al-Araibi (Fighting for Hakeem), Sophie McNeill (We Can’t Say We Didn’t Know), Tony Birch (The White Girl), Bob Brown (Planet Earth), Kathy Lette (HRT: Husband Replacement Therapy), Blanche D’Alpuget (Bob Hawke), Jess Hill (See What You Made Me Do), Paul Kelly (Love is Strong as Death), Tom Keneally (The Dickens Boy), Julia Baird (Phosphorescence), Hugh McKay (The Inner Self), Peter Polites (The Pillars). On the Monday night after Festival Week, Malcolm Turnbull (A Bigger Picture) will be in conversation with Annabel Crabb at Town Hall.

Australian writers to watch:
Rebecca Giggs [guest curator] (Fathoms: the world in the whale), Stephanie Convery (After The Count), Alice Bishop (A Constant Hum), Victor Steffensen (Fire Country), Vivian Pham (The Coconut Children), Daisy Jeffrey (On Hope), Ronnie Scott (The Adversary), Matt Okine (Being Black ‘N Chicken and Chips), Ellena Savage (Blueberries), Laura Jean McKay (The Animals in that Country), Intan Paramaditha (The Wandering), Josephine Rowe (Here Until August).

Our Family Program begins on Saturday May 2 with Dav Pilkey’s ‘Do Good Tour’ (Captain Underpants and Dog Man) at City Recital Hall and Riverside Theatres in Paramatta. Our program continues on Sunday May 3 at Carriageworks and the Seymour Centre, with some of Australia’s most loved children’s authors. Featuring international favourite Raina Telgemeier (Smile and Guts), as well as home-grown talent Adam Briggs (Our Home, Our Heartbeat), Beci Orpin (Take Heart, Take Action) and hilarious duo Andrew McDonald and illustrator Ben Wood (Real Pigeons Peck Punches).

All-Day YA (Carriageworks)
Our 2020 YA program finds a new home at Carriageworks on Saturday May 2. Featuring international guests Leigh Bardugo (Grishaverse) and Alice Oseman (Heartstopper) alongside debut #LoveOzYA authors Alex Dyson (When It Drops), Lisa Fuller (Ghost Bird) and Kay Kerr (Please Don’t Hug Me). Returning is the popular TeenCon 2020, offering the inside scoop on the most exciting YA releases. With a special in conversation event with New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo, on Thursday April 30.

Sydney Writers’ Festival Nights at Carriageworks

The sun goes down and the stars come out for nights of danger, desire and sessions that inspire.

Unravel the chaos of Donald Trump’s first term with Pulitzer Prize winners Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, co-authors of (A Very Stable Genius). Discover a portrait of sex and love with bestselling writer Lisa Taddeo (Three Women). Hear the stories and songs of Clare Bowditch (Your Own Kind of Girl), one of Australia’s most beloved musicians. Get an on-the-ground account of the Hong Kong uprising with Nobel Prize–nominated founder of the Umbrella Movement, Joshua Wong (Unfree Speech) and City on Fire author Antony Dapiran speaking with the Financial Times’ South China correspondent Sue-Lin Wong. Settle in for a prescient journey into Silicon Valley with outsider turned start-up insider Anna Wiener (Uncanny Valley). And hear Miranda Tapsell (Top End Girl) discuss her stellar career and taking charge of what she saw on screen. Feeling thirsty? Slate podcast hosts Bim Adewunmi and Nichole Perkins have a fix for that.

Source: Sydney Writer’s Festival media release


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