Earlier, smaller but punchy: forthcoming Melbourne Writers Festival (@MelbWritersFest)

Image thanks to: Melbourne Writers Festival

The 2023 Melbourne Writers Festival will take place on May 4-7. Some of the best Australian and international storytellers will join local readers in a wide range of presentations and workshops centred around the theme “I’ve Been Away for a While”.

We have all been away for a while from once-familiar relationships, routines and realities. Festival organisers are “still feeling and responding to the economic impact” of the past few years, and have to cope with venue availabilities across Melbourne. Hence this year’s program is more condensed – but “it still packs a punch”!

Two of the most exciting events are presented by beloved musician Paul Kelly, who will sing and recite poems that have delighted and inspired his life, and by celebrated actor Sam Neill, who will launch his memoir Did I Ever Tell You This?.

Did I Ever Tell You This? A Memoir (Text Publishing, March 2023) by Sam Neill

Other acclaimed Australian authors include Stan Grant, who will explore Australia’s path to become a republic, and Ellen van Neerven, who, via her new book Personal Score, will discuss sport, culture and identity. Meanwhile, at the boldly-named event “Frontier Fictions”, Paul Daley, Fiona McFarlane and Tony Birch will share their approaches to writing Australia’s colonial past.

Memoirs and biographies are forever popular, with appearances by Australian authors Andre Dao, Kate Legge, Nam Le, Heather Mitchell, Brigitta Olubas, Heather Rose, Grace Tame, Amy Thunig and Maria Tumarkin to be expected – just to name a few. They will be joined by British author Bernardine Evaristo, the first Black woman to win the Booker Prize with her novel Girl, Woman, Other. Evaristo will present her fierce memoir Manifesto: On Never Giving Up.

Manifesto: On Never Giving Up (Grove/Atlantic Inc, January 2022) by Bernardine Evaristo

Other international visitors include American literary and cultural expert Sarah Churchwell, bestselling American author Lev Grossman and Irish author Claire Keegan, and American food writer and chef Alison Roman. Particularly noteworthy is Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka, whose novel The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida won the 2022 Booker Prize.

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida (Profile Books, October 2022) by Shehan Karunatilaka

For those readers in the suburbs, Pip Williams will present her new novel The Bookbinder of Jericho at Geelong Library & Heritage Centre, while Richard Fidler will discuss his latest historical non-fiction The Book of roads and Kingdoms at Vision Australia Library in Kooyong. Then there is Jane Harper‘s endearing protagonist Aaron Falk, who will be farewelled in Exiles at Bunjil Place Theatre in Narre Warren.

The Bookbinder of Jericho (Affirm Press, March 2023) by Pip Williams

Finally, as praised by Liane Moriarty and Annabel Crabb, two debut Australian novels worth exploring are Tracey Lien’s All That’s Left Unsaid and Nina Wan’s The Albatross. At the event “Labours of Love”, the authors will share their insight into themes such as family, love, duty and identity.

Also, with Scarlett O’hara and Annie the orphan in mind, this reviewer is intrigued by the event “Like There’s No Tomorrow”, where two American authors, Emma Straub and Gabrielle Zevin, will be discussing their novels This Time Tomorrow and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, respectively.

While tomorrow is another day, always a day away, the Festival’s 20% Early-bird discount will end at 11:59pm, Thursday 6 April. Better book your tickets today!

Note: This article was published under the title “Elite event for writers” by Ranges Trader Star Mail, April 4, 2023, P.17.

Note 2: This article can also be viewed on The Star Mail’s website.


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