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Writing isn’t just enjoyed in silence. Good writing has the power to illuminate.
In conversation
Writing isn’t just enjoyed in silence. If a good film can inspire debate among a group of viewers, good writing can directly affect society, working as a force for change. Whether fiction, poetry, journalism - or even blogging - writing has the power to illuminate the personal and the universal, shining a light through the murk of current existence while also examining days gone by. As such, writing inevitably influences our thoughts, generating dispute, allowing discussion and provoking debate - something the Sydney Writers’ Festival is all too aware of. With hundreds of events, the Festival is bringing the people behind the pen to the stage in a series of author conversations set to ignite the issues and ideas of our age. Here are just a few to get you started, but for full details see below. The Story of Sydney Ever wondered where Sydney got its name from? Well, it was named after a man. Though his face has been replaced by the Luna Park entrance, he was once a driving force behind the city’s establishment. Now author Andrew Tink is bringing the man back through a discussion about his new biography, the subject of which is the man whose name is uttered daily. Would it surprise you to know that Lord Sydney’s real name was Thomas Townshend? Building Empathy in an Age of Terrorism and Ayslum As society divides itself over the issues of terrorism and asylum seekers, what part can writing play in the establishment of empathy and understanding? We’re all human, yet it’s incredibly easy to act inhumane towards those most in need of assistance and compassion. Two revered writers, Chris McCourt, who has written a novel set in the Australian outback, and Ghassan Nakhoul, the first Arabic writer to win a Walkley Award, discuss their different approaches. Jesmyn Ward In 2011 Jesmyn Ward won the National Book Award for Fiction for her heart-wrenching novel, Salvage the Bones. In this lyrical, emotive work, Ward tells of the experience of a poor black family dealing with the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina. A Mississippi native, Jesmyn Ward received her MFA from the University of Michigan and is currently an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of South Alabama. Her first novel, Where the Line Bleeds, was a Black Caucus of the ALA Honor Award recipient and a finalist for both the Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. She will be discussing the issues raised in Salvage the Bones. For a full list of conversations happening during the festival head here.

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