By Christine Yunn-Yu Sun
The Melbourne Writers Festival will take place from September 8 until September 11 with the theme this year is “ambition”, showcasing “a thrilling exploration of ambition – denied, thwarted and achieved”. The event features more than 270 of the world’s most exciting storytellers, with 75 free and paid sessions hosted by State Library Victoria. There is a 20% discount for those early birds who book their tickets before August 8 (some exclusions apply).
The following are some highlights from this year’s program. Readers are encouraged to find further details on the official website (https://mwf.com.au/).
For biography lovers, the new book Bob Hawke: Demons and Destiny will be revealed, and two renowned biographers will explain the art, ethics and remarkable subjects of their craft. Several memoirs will also be introduced, including but not limited to The Boy in the Dress, Growing Up in Country Australia, After the Tampa, and Unknown: A refugee’s story.
On science, Dr Norman Swan will present his new book So You Want to Live Younger Longer? Various sessions will highlight the ancient science, sophisticated astronomical expertise and incredible feats of innovation achieved by Australia’s First Peoples. Another focus is on some of the surprising experiments that have shaped our world and its future.
Specifically on climate change, the new book Crimes Against Nature will be introduced, and several acclaimed authors will shed light on their exploration of fear, loss and hope in climate fiction. Meanwhile, there will be dialogues on climate fatalism vs denialism, and on the power of the people – the struggles, successes and ambitions of collective action.
Regarding the media, there will be discussions on the future of ABC, the ethics and politics of public debate, the values underpinning news coverage, the challenges facing press freedom and investigative journalism, how to report trauma and elevate the voices of those affected by conflict and tragedy, and how to prevent the proliferation of fake news and disinformation.
Particularly notable are three sessions on international affairs, with Ukrainian ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko addressing how Russia’s invasion of his country is reshaping the world, New Yorker writer Joshua Yaffa discussing “Truth, Ambition and Compromise in Putin’s Russia”,
and Hong Kong journalist Louisa Lim and Chinese novelist Murong Xuecun presenting “Dispatches from Hong Kong and Wuhan”.
The Festival will feature a diverse range of First Nation writers and writers of colour, with discussions on indigenous feminism, the challenges of living in and between different worlds, the complications of race, language and political upheaval, how to forge new paths in predominantly white professions, and all that is and could exist in different versions of Australia.
And, finally, to celebrate the writing and reading of fiction, there will be author talks and workshops on all sorts of topics and themes. With the 2022 Miles Franklin-winner Jennifer Down speaking at the Opening Night and Robert Dessoix, recent recipient of the Australian Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature, addressing the Closing Night, the Melbourne Writers Festival is surely a splendid event. This reviewer will see you there.