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Open and shut

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Much like a book, a festival has to entice from beginning to end.
Open and shut
What’re the most important parts of a book? Arguably, if you’re trying to sell one to a publisher, the beginning is incredibly important. You want to enthral the person who may possibly invest money in you, and that’s going to be a good indication how that person perusing a book store is going to react as well. Aside from the cover, the first few pages of a book are what grab the reader. But after sticking with you through the beginning and the middle, a reader is also going to want to make sure that the whole thing pays off at the end. Much like a book, a festival must also entice from beginning to end, and the Sydney Writers’ Festival is hoping to do that with their opening and closing night addresses. Judging from their program, they’ve organised a blockbuster. Opening Night - The Private Moment According to Libyan novelist Hisham Matar, when living under a totalitarian regime, even your personal and private life is infiltrated by the state. In order to resist the ever-tightening fingers of an Iron Fist, Matar believes love is the best weapon in the arsenal. In the 2012 Festival Opening Address, he heralds the need to bestow private moments with the worth they deserve and demonstrates that fiction is the best way to articulate these emotions. Born in New York City to Libyan parents, Matar spent his childhood in Tripoli before moving to Cairo. His 2006 debut novel, In the Country of Men was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, The Guardian First Book Award and the National Critics Circle Award in America. Aside from these nominations the book took out six international literary awards, including a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and the inaugural Arab American Book Award, as well as being translated into 28 languages. For full details head here. Closing Night – Dava Sobel Regarding the Transit of Venus As if the stars were aligning, James Cook’s mission to observe the 1769 Transit was the voyage that accidentally set him on a course to stumbling over Australia. When the sun sets on the Sydney Writers’ Festival, Dava Sobel will relate the history of observing the Transit of Venus, reflecting on the literary and musical tributes that pay homage to this incredibly astronomical event. For full details head here. Sydney Writers’ Festival runs from May 14-20. Don’t forget to check out our dedicated SWF mini-site where you’ll find all the details of events, news and profiles of guests.

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