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Julia Gillard among stellar guests at Byron writers festival

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Writers Festival director Edwina Johnson with operations manager, Sarah Ma. Photo Jeff Dawson
Writers Festival director Edwina Johnson with operations manager, Sarah Ma. Photo Jeff Dawson

The countdown to Australia’s largest regional literary event has begun, with the recent unveiling of the full 2015 Byron Bay Writers Festival program.

Now only five weeks away, the three-day event, from August 7-9, has book-lovers and authors buzzing, particularly about this year’s stellar line-up of international guests as well as renowned Australians, including prime minister Julia Gillard and acclaimed author Helen Garner.

Among this year’s 140 speakers are some of the world’s most powerful and prestigious, writers, thinkers and innovators.

Festival director Edwina Johnson says that 2015 has ‘the strongest line-up of international guests in the Festival’s history’.

The festival’s ability to consistently attract and showcase some of the world’s greatest emerging and established writers has seen its prominence cemented.

In a hotly anticipated festival appearance, prolific British political and historical writer and filmmaker Tariq Ali will appear in conversation with Kerry O’Brien, host of ABC’s 4 Corners.

New voice

A festival exclusive is Nigerian-born, American-based author Chigozie Obioma.

His debut novel The Fishermen, which explores growing up in Nigeria in the 1990s, has received exceptional reviews, with Obioma being hailed as strong new voice in literature.

Speaking on various panels, Obioma appears in conversation with venerable journalist and host of the ABC’s The Book Club, Jennifer Byrne.

Also appearing in conversation with Byrne is award-winning Mexican-American writer Jennifer Clement.

Clement is the author of Prayers for the Stolen, A True Story Based on Lies, The Poison That Fascinates and Widow Basquiat, as well as several books of poetry.

From 2009 to 2012, Clement was also president of Mexico’s chapter of PEN International, a long-standing worldwide association of writers that promotes literature, freedom of expression and human rights.

Appearing alongside Clement on the panel titled ‘Turning to the Dark Side’ is best-selling, prize-winning American author of several books David Vann, whose books include Legend of a Suicide, Caribou Island, Dirt, Goat Mountain and most recently, Aquarium.

Debut memoir

American author and adventurer Antonia Murphy left her native San Francisco in 2005 for a two-year sailing trip that saw her eventually settle on a farm in New Zealand. The experience provides the backdrop for her debut memoir Dirty Chick: Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer.

Rounding out the American contingent is print, video and multimedia journalist Noah Rosenberg. A frequent contributor to The New York Times, Rosenberg is the founder and editor of the award-winning online publication Narratively.

With most of these international guests appearing in more than one session at the festival, audiences will have the opportunity to hear these authors speaking about different aspects of their work and how it fits within the wider spectrum and themes of contemporary literature.

The 2015 Byron Bay Writers Festival will unfold over August 7–9 at the newly named Elements of Byron.

It will be preceded by a series of hands-on skills development workshops commencing on August 3 at the Northern Rivers Writers Centre, and associated schools programs.

Tickets are available from the Byron Bay Writers Festival website.

BBWF 2015 Articles & Reviews

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  1. The Killing Season is here in Byron and Julia Gillard is still not done.
    Julia Gillard with her book “My Story” leads a long list of great literary authors who are telling their stories at the 2015 Byron Bay Writers Festival.
    That is my story and I am sticking to it as I am not yet published.

  2. Wow, she won’t just lie down and fade away, will, she? We keep hearing from this woman, certainly one of the worst Prime Ministers in Australia’s history. A very bad example as the country’s first female leader. She’ll be a hard act to forget about, but she should, in all decency, make an attempt.


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