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July 23, 2024

Dive head first into some 2024’s biggest books at the Byron Writers Festival

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Experience books in a whole new way at Byron Writers Festival

“Living eulogies”, launches and poetic performances – Australia’s largest regional writers festival embraces the theatrical with a series of evening feature events.

Byron Writers Festival invites audiences to slow down and experience an immersive weekend of books, big ideas and stimulating conversation at the beautiful Bangalow Showground. Designed like a music festival, attendees can move between five covered stages and the A&I Hall, presenting over 160 of the world’s best writers, as well as meeting authors at book signings, browsing the onsite book store, food and market stalls, and sculpture walk. With the festival just over a month away, here’s a taste of some of the biggest and most compelling books in the program.

Literary masters

In an exclusive Australian visit, the festival will host US-based Nigerian writer Chigozie Obioma, a two-time Booker Prize finalist. His latest novel The Road To The Country is an odyssey of brotherhood, love, and unimaginable courage set during one of the most devastating conflicts in the history of Africa, the Nigerian Civil War. As well as talking about his book, Chigozie will appear in the ‘War and Brotherhood’ panel hosted by Kerry O’Brien with another international guest Leo Vardiashvili (UK), and in the festival’s annual gala.

International guest Caoilinn Hughes is a major literary voice hailing from Ireland. Her latest novel The Alternatives is a powerful story of four brilliant Irish sisters who scramble to reconnect when the oldest disappears into the Irish countryside. Catch Caoillinn at the festival talking about her book with Bri Lee or in the panels ‘Feminist Literatures’, ‘Sisters’ or in conversation with award-winning writer Nam Le.

Non-fiction highlights

When her husband didn’t answer his phone, Ailsa Piper knew something was wrong. Ailsa Piper’s For Life is an unforgettable and moving insight into loss, hope and starting again, aided by the incredible healing power of nature and community. At the festival, Ailsa will feature in an unmissable one-on-one conversation with acclaimed novelist Charlotte Wood. 

James Bradley’s beautiful book Deep Water is a hymn to the beauty, mystery and wonder of the ocean. Weaving together science, history and personal experience, it offers vital new ways of understanding humanity’s relationship with the planet, our past, and most importantly, our future. James will deliver the festival’s annual Thea Astley Address – not to be missed.

Politics and media

In his book The Forever War: America’s Unending Conflict With Itself, Nick Bryant, one of the BBC’s finest foreign correspondents, explores how America’s current political polarisation has been 250 years in the making. Combining brilliant storytelling with historical research, Nick argues that the hate, divisiveness and paranoia we see today are in fact a core part of America’s story. He will join Indian activist and poet Meena Kandasamy and ABC Global Affairs editor John Lyons to discuss ‘The Mega Election Year’.

From one of this country’s leading First Nations journalists, Amy McQuire, comes Black Witness, a searing indictment of the media’s failures in reporting Indigenous affairs and a powerful corrective that shows how Black journalism can pave the way for equality and justice. Amy will join ABC Four Corners investigative journalist Louise Milligan, Nick Bryant and Julianne Schultz to discuss press freedom in the annual Mungo MacCallum Panel.


• All these authors and more will appear at Byron Writers festival 2024. Explore the program further at byronwritersfestival.com/festival-program.

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