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Byron Shire
May 10, 2021

Writers’ Festival launches today

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Deep listening and housing ideas under Mullum’s fig trees for RenewFest

Around a hundred presenters, musicians, other artists and community activators plus a bumper crowd of punters all came together under the fig trees at the Mullumbimby Showground over the weekend for Renew Fest 2021.

Byron Bay Writers’ Festival launches the program for its 16th Festival today. The festival is sponsored by Echonetdaily and The Byron Shire Echo. The full program will be available in Tuesday’s edition of The Echo.

Festival director Jonathan Parsons is delighted with the lineup for the festival, which will take place 3–5 August. There has been a frenzy of activity in the last few weeks, as Jonathan and his team finalise a dynamic and entertaining program for this year’s festival.

Bringing his own brand of literary curation to the festival has resulted in a fresh and enticing lineup.

‘It’s been an incredible privilege to immerse myself in Australia’s and the world’s literary cultures and curate a program that reflects where we are now in 2012. It’s a delight to shepherd one of Australia’s most-loved literary events, and I hope it will again enthral lovers of literature and ideas in the delightful setting of Byron Bay,’ said Jonathan, on the eve of the program launch.

International guests at this year’s festival include: from the US the Pulitzer award-winning Katherine Boo; from Hong Kong, Xu Xi with her trans-global fiction; and Australian girl done good Sarah Brennan; from Pakistan, the ‘rambunctious, vulgar, funny and moving’ Mohammed Hanif; from India, ‘one of world literature’s great cult writers’ Kiran Nagarkar; from Singapore, environmental children’s author and crime writer Shamini Flint; and from Indonesia the bestselling Indonesian author of all time, Andrea Hirata.

On home turf, bestselling author Elliot Perlman will wield enormous punch in conversation with lover of literature Mary Delahunty. Michael Kirby and Daryl Dellora will be swapping notes on their view from the bench and Peter Doherty and Julianne Schultz will be among the guests asking ‘What is Australia for?’

This year’s Festival sees the hilariously provocative Andy Griffiths vying for attention with Morris Gleitzman while he tries to save ten lives with a paperclip, iconic authors Gail Jones and Charlotte Wood swapping notes on the literary life, and Geoff Gallop searching for the truth in politics. Sexual anthropologist Bella Ellwood-Clayton and novelist Susan Johnson will examine female desire as stories of extreme journeys are compared by Anna Rose, Ailsa Piper and Jessica Watson. Ian Lowe and George Megalogenis will ask Is the big country big enough?, and Michaela McGuire and Susan Johnson pull the F-word apart as they discuss feminism in the here and now.

Sophie Cunningham, Niromi de Soyza, Denise Leith and Sally Neighbour will give us their hot tips on the art of survival whilst Alex Miller waxes lyrical on his lust for life and art. Robyn Arianrhod, Peter Doherty and Venero Armanno will demonstrate the benefits of slow-simmering ideas whilst Stephen Sewell, Marc Fennell and Antony Funnell serve up a portion of digital bang-bang. Rohan Wilson and John Bailey’s pioneering Australian explorers and thugs will contrast John Marsden’s Steiner and the Simpsons. The ‘bashed, sued, celebrated and revered’ former Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Greens Bob Brown will share a conversation with Kerry O’Brien, and Deb Cox, Lois Randall and Jon Bell will be keeping the family together as they appease the Gods of Wheat Street.

And if your fancy hasn’t been tickled by this smorgasbord of literary culture, there’s always Jane Caro and Mandy Nolan divulging their hottest tips on how to resuscitate your child’s guineapig.

This August, you can look forward to a lively and dynamic mix of literary talent across live radio broadcasts, readings, panel discussions, book signings, conversations, films, literary food events and book launches. Be delighted and inspired by more than 120 featured writers, readers and thinkers from around the globe.

Widely regarded as one of Australia’s premier literary events, the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival will take place 3–5 August. It is an event that draws together thousands of literature lovers for three days of intelligent discussion, passionate interaction and fun.

Festival passes will be for sale from Friday 15 June at the following prices: 3-day pass – members $210 non-members $245; 2-day pass – members $170 non-members $200; 1-day pass – members $90 non-members $110; Youth pass – members $35 non-members $40 (for Sunday for ABC3 marquee only).

To peruse the entire Festival program, book tickets, and for all further information visit www.byronbaywritersfestival.com, call the booking hotline on 1300 368 552 or pick up a copy of the program in Tuesday’s Echo.

Images from left: Jessica Watson, Andy Griffiths, Niromi de Soyza and Elliot Perlman.

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