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June 15, 2024

Byron Writers Festival program launched

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Local authors Russell Eldridge and Jennifer St George with festival operations manager Sarah Ma. Photo Jeff Dawson
Local authors Russell Eldridge and Jennifer St George with festival operations manager Sarah Ma. Photo Jeff Dawson

Byron Writers Festival organisers have unwrapped their program for 2017, featuring more than 130 guests and six stages.

The event, to be held at the Elements of Byron resort from August 4 till 6, will be complemented by diverse writers’ workshops, satellite events and literary dinners throughout Byron Bay and the wider northern rivers region.

Festival director Edwina Johnson says, ‘The twenty-first Byron Writers festival program aims to soar high across many different dominions. We seek to inspire, engage and cultivate accessible conversations between our writer guests and avid audiences.’

Aussie lineup

‘We are especially proud of this year’s program – for its cultural diversity, scope, and probing amalgamation of important topics and different writing genres.’

Acclaimed Australian novelists include Kate Grenville, Ashley Hay, Anita Heiss, Hannah Kent, AS Patric, Nicolas Rothwell, Kim Scott and Byron Bay-based Robert Drewe.

They join a bestselling lineup of Australian crime writers, including David Free, Mirandi Riwoe (MJ Tjia), Michael Robotham and Jock Serong.

International guests include US novelist Kayla Rae Whitaker and Indonesia’s Eka Kurniawan and The New York Times columnist Roger Cohen.

Music lineup

Award-winning rock icon Jimmy Barnes will discuss his bestselling memoir and legendary singer/songwriter Tex Perkins will reveal his newly released autobiography. Sarah Blasko will feature in a one-on-one conversation with The Saturday Paper’s Erik Jensen as well as a Music Makers session with musician and novelist Holly Throsby. In his startlingly honest memoir My Idol Years seventies pop star, barrister and Australian Idol judge Mark Holden spins the chair for us on the TV and music industries.

Richard Roxburgh and Andrew Knight take us behind the scenes of the hugely popular ABC TV series Rake and Roxburgh will also entertain at Kids Big Day Out with his first children’s book Artie and The Grime Wave.

Master illusionist and escapologist Cosentino will share his greatest trick – how he learned to read – and was transformed from a bullied isolated 12-year-old boy with learning difficulties to one of the world’s most popular magicians. Sudanese refugee Deng Adut will recount his journey from child soldier to lawyer and 2017 NSW Australian of the Year.

Other highlight memoirists and biographers include Caroline Baum, Jane Hutcheon, Nikki Gemmell and Kim Mahood.

Politics lineup

Politics, much-needed debate and a good dose of humour will shine a light on the key issues facing Australians and the world when leading commentators take centre-stage. Peter FitzSimons argues The Case for a Republic in the annual Thea Astley Lecture; satirist John Safran and respected journalist David Marr unravel the second coming of Pauline Hanson and the socio-political landscape that has given rise to the likes of Trump.
Susan Carland makes the case that feminism and Islam can be complementary in Fighting Hislam; The Hon Dr Barry Jones takes us on a journey through the music and literature that has inspired him, while Gold Walkley award-winning reporter Caro Meldrum-Hanna gives insight into her investigative journalism for ABC TV Four Corners.

The hugely popular Best of Insiders event returns to Byron Theatre with host Barrie Cassidy and panelists Malcolm Farr, David Marr and Laura Tingle taking us through all the big political developments of 2017.
The festival also pays tribute to one of the nation’s greats, John Clarke, with a special evening event at Elements of Byron featuring Bryan Dawe and Andrew Knight.

The Festival also features media luminaries Julia Baird, Paul Barclay, Jennifer Byrne, Richard Fidler, Clementine Ford, Peter Helliar, John Lyons, Kerry O’Brien, Tracey Spicer, Lisa Wilkinson and Tony Jones, who will talk about his debut novel and political thriller The Twentieth Man.

Science lineup

Charlie Veron, known as ‘the Godfather of Coral’, invites us to explore the wonders of his Life Underwater. He will also introduce a special screening of a startling documentary Chasing Coral.

Acclaimed scientist Tim Flannery investigates exciting new technologies with Sunlight and Seaweed.
Bestselling author and longtime farmer with a PhD in social change Charles Massy discusses regenerative agriculture while Bruce Pascoe challenges the claim that pre-colonial Aboriginal society was essentially a hunter-gatherer society in his award-winning book Dark Emu.

David Gillespie reveals the science of identifying and dealing with psychopaths at work and home with Taming Toxic People. Numbers nerd Adam Spencer will encourage us to get our geek on and beloved broadcaster and author of more than 15 books Robyn Williams will guide us through 40 years of ABC Radio National’s Science Show.

And lastly but not only, award-winning science writer Dava Sobel reveals the hidden history of female astronomers in The Glass Universe.

*For more info see the program in this week’s Echo or visit www.byronwritersfestival.com


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