Adelaide’s Writers’ Week is six days of stories, discussions and readings from some of the world’s best writers and thinkers.
BY SAM SMITH
Held from 27 February to 3 March at the Adelaide Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden; Adelaide Writers’ Week events are free to the public. The Memorial Garden is under five minutes’ walk away from Rundle Mall, Adelaide. Stroll over, take a seat and be inspired.
With so much to see, here’s just a taste of some of the talks featured at the 2016 Adelaide Writers’ Week.
Day one - Saturday 27 February
Adelaide Writers’ Week begins at 9:30am, with tales from three of the world’s best short story writers: Etgar Keret, Fiona McFarlane and Jim Shepard. Later in the morning at 10:45am, memoirist Drusilla Modjeska discusses Second Half First – a look back at the last 30 years of her life and how they have shaped her writing. Comedy legend, Magda Szubanski, hits the stage at midday to discuss her memoir, Reckoning, which tells the tale of her father who fought in the Second World War.
After lunch, neuroscientist and writer of the bestselling novel Still Alice, Lisa Genova, shares her latest work: Inside the O’Briens. The novel explores the ways in which a family copes with neurodegenerative Huntington’s disease. At 2:30pm, biographers Laura Thompson and Robert Wainwright discuss writing the lives of extraordinary women.
Day two - Sunday 28 February
At 9:30am, Robert Dessaix discusses the impact Enid Blyton's books had on his childhood. At 10:45, Peter May – the only westerner ever made a member of the Chinese Crime Writers’ Association – discusses his most recent book, Coffin Road. At midday, Lauren Groff and Virginia Reeves explore the intricacies of marriage in their respective novels, Fates and Furies and Work Like any Other.
In the afternoon Bernard Beckett discusses issues surrounding decision-making and cognition. His latest book, Lullaby, explores identity through the story of twins faced with a life-or-death decision. At 3:45pm, Stephen Daisley and Rohan Wilson hit the stage, taking an in-depth look into Australia’s violent history and the often tumultuous relationships forged between people living in remote parts of the bush. Finally at 5:00pm, doctor and author Mohamed Khadra looks into the realities of medicine on the battlefield.
Day three - Monday 29 February
Day three begins with tales of starting anew from Patrick Gale and Paul Yoon. In Gale’s A Place Called Winter
, a privileged young man is forced to flee Edwardian England for the wilds of Canada. Yoon’s Snow Hunters
tells the story of a Korean refugee sent to Brazil as a tailor’s apprentice. At 10:45am, Kate De Goldi and Fiona Farrell explore the devastating effects of the Christchurch earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.
At 1:15pm, Stephanie Bishop and Catherine Lacey tackle questions of marriage, self and freedom. At 3:45pm, distinguished authors Bill Manhire and Max Porter ask the question: can a writer be taught, or are writers born, not made? As the day draws to a close at 5:00pm, celebrated Australian poets Aidan Coleman, Jelena Dinic, Jill Jones, Kate Llewellyn and Thom Sullivan join forces for an hour of poetry readings.
Adelaide's relaxing riverbank precinct, near the Pioneer Women's Memorial Garden
Day four - Tuesday 1 March
Day four begins at 9:30am with Stephen Daisley, who explores relationships between men in harsh circumstances. At 10:45am, Catherine Lacey and Joanna Walsh hit the stage, discussing their respective novels – Nobody is Ever Missing and Hotel – and their common themes of alienation, escape and search for self.
At 1:15pm, exceptional short story writers Tegan Bennett Daylight and Sonja Dechain discuss everything from love and marriage to buried bodies, cancer, virginity and a terrorist cell. Later in the afternoon at 2:30pm, Hyeonseo Lee tells the incredible story of her escape from North Korea when she was 17. At 5:00pm, authors Masha Gessen and Simon Sebag Montefiore collaborate to discuss the issues surrounding modern Russia, as well as its fascinating past, as chronicled in Sebag Montefiore’s The Romanovs.
Day five - Wednesday 2 March
Day five begins at 9:30am, with influential writer Chris Wallace-Crabble, as he discusses his newest collection of poetry, My Feet are Hungry
and looks back at his very first foray, The Music of Division.
Later in the morning at 10:45, author of the novel, Prayers for the
Stolen, Jennifer Clement and author of Water Music
, Margie Orford, pair-up to discuss the threat of abduction and the unforeseen dangers of everyday life.
At 1:15pm, one of the most exciting writers in contemporary fiction, Joanna Walsh – author of Hotel and Vertigo – discusses her latest works, focussing on issues of alienation and self. At 3:45pm, author of Boyhoodlum, Anson Cameron, takes a laugh-out-loud approach to childhood, reflecting on his own troublesome youth. Finally, at 5:00pm, Troy Bramston and Paul Kelly examine the dramatic dismissal of Gough Whitlam with fresh documents, new interviews and revelations.
Day six - Thursday 3 March
The final day of the Adelaide Writers’ Week begins at 9:30am, with a conversation about misogyny and gender, led by writer of The Natural Way of Things
, Charlotte Wood. Later in the morning at 10:45am, Craig Munro takes us on a behind-the-scenes journey of the world of publishing. His memoir, Under Cover
, takes an in-depth look at his life working with some of Australia’s best writers.
Later in the day at 1:15pm, celebrated chefs Simon Bryant and Jennifer McLagan discuss the gritty side of today’s food culture. Bryant is the author of Vegetables, Grains and other Good Stuff. McLagan has written four books uncovering “forgotten foods” and teaching us how to prepare them. One of the final acts of Adelaide Writer’s Week 2016 is Ramona Koval, discussing her fascinating journey to uncover her biological parents’ past and their experience as holocaust survivors.
Adelaide Writers’ Week events are free of charge and talks are not ticketed. For a full program and more event details, visit the Adelaide Writers’ Week website