Some of the world’s brightest and most curious writers, artists, thinkers and innovators are coming to town for the 2016 Brisbane Writers Festival in September.
Presented for the first time by UPLIT, the Festival intends to bring bright sparks together in one place to stoke the fire of their collective curiosity.
“The themes for Brisbane Writers Festival (BWF) 2016 are connection and belonging,” says festival director and CEO Julie Beveridge.
“Connection makes us. Alone we are curious individuals — collectively we build greater understanding, more insight and meaningful exchange. When connected we can change the world.”
International author Lionel Shriver (We Need to Talk About Kevin) will open this year’s Festival with her reflections on why we identify with each other in communities, and how belonging to one group doesn’t preclude us from exploring another.
Other international authors lining up to share their stories include comedian Alexei Sayle (of The Young Ones and The Comic Strip Presents… fame), who’ll discuss why comedy is no laughing matter; philosopher AC Grayling, who will take part in BWF’s Great Debate; and Irish author Chris Cleave, who will ask audiences to escape with him for a discussion about love via long distance wartime mail.
Self-declared ‘free-range Aspergian’ John Elder Robinson will share his personal experience with a revolutionary new brain therapy promising to unlock emotional intelligence, while novelist and investigative journalist Suki Kim will discuss going undercover in North Korea to infiltrate and understand a world built on secrecy and lies.
It’s not all about the internationals, though. Heading the long list of Australian authors heading to BWF is the legendary Thomas Keneally (Schindler’s Ark, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith), who has written a fast-paced, witty and gripping historical crime series with daughter Meg Keneally.
Festival favourite Nick Earls returns with his latest work, Wisdom Tree, which takes the form of six novellas, released one per month from May to September. The novellas will be read live by guest authors on the Festival bill.
Toni Jordan and Avalanche author Julia Leigh, who has written a courageous personal account of the expensive and emotional limbo that is IVF, will be on a panel with Joshua Yeldham, who has created a beautiful art book that combines poetry, journal entries and letters to his daughter, who was born through IVF.
On the other end of the spectrum, Steve Amsterdam, Matt Vickers and Dr Leah Kaminsky will open up a conversation about the ‘taboo’ topic of death, and why dignity for the dying is important.
Master conversationalist Richard Fidler, a frequent host of BWF panels, will swap positions and become the interviewee this time, as he discusses his new book, Ghost Empire, which is both a love letter to a lost civilisation and a personal voyage of discussion.
Country musician Troy Cassar-Daley will discuss his memoir, Things I Carry Around, while Elspeth Muir will share her deeply personal story about the real costs of excessive alcohol consumption in our society.
The Masterclasses — a staple of the BWF experience — will return with 23 different authors to choose from. The Masterclasses are essential for any aspiring writers who want to learn from the experts.
2016 will also see the introduction of a Philosophers in Residence program, with two participants roaming the Festival, exploring content, posing questions, listening to audiences and sharing their experiences at the Closing Address on Sunday 11 September.
BWF will run from 7-11 September within the State Library of Queensland and the adjacent Cultural Precinct. Tickets are available now at uplit.com.au.