10 international guests to see at Melbourne Writers Festival 2019

It’s not long now until the annual Melbourne Writers Festival (MWF) – the theme of which is ‘When We Talk About Love’. Here are 10 international guests that we are particularly excited to see at this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival.

You can find the full program for the 2019 Melbourne Writers Festival here.


Ben Folds

American singer-songwriter Ben Folds is widely recognised as one of the greatest musicians of our generation, and his extraordinary memoir, A Dream About Lightning Bugs is a nuanced and witty reflection on his life so far. Folds is a natural storyteller, as evidenced by his vast contribution to popular music culture, so this is charming, funny and engaging storytelling. Folds will be speaking at the Melbourne Writers Festival with Charlie Pickering about notable influences on his life, as well as playing live some songs that have shaped him as an artist.

Find out how to see Ben Folds at MWF here


Tayari Jones

Tayari Jones is having a great year – she’s just won the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction for her heartbreaking novel An American Marriage, in which a young couple are separated by a wrongful imprisonment. An American Marriage is truly a masterpiece of storytelling, and we’re lucky enough to have Jones in Melbourne for this year’s festival, where she will be speaking with Eve L. Ewing.

Find out how to see Tayari Jones at MWF here


Patrick deWitt

Canadian novelist Patrick deWitt will be at MWF this year to talk all things relating to his widely diverse body of work. deWitt’s latest, French Exit, has been universally received with open arms (our bookseller, Gab, loved it – read her thoughts here). It tells the story of Frances, a beautiful and eccentric widow, who learns she’s suddenly flat broke. With her apartment now off limits, she boards a cruise liner to Paris with her son, Malcolm.

Find out how to see Patrick deWitt at MWF here


Becky Albertalli

We’re lucky enough to have Becky Albertalli, author of YA sensation Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (also known as Love, Simon) at this year’s festival. In one event, Albertalli will be joining our very own Jenna Guillaume (author of What I Like About Me and shortlisted for the 2019 Readings Young Adult Prize) to celebrate the runaway success of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and its second life on the big screen in the film adaptation, Love, Simon. The two authors will discuss adolescent love, heartache, and representation in literature. For more information on Albertalli’s events at MWF, click the link below.

Find out how to see Becky Albertalli at MWF here


Daniel Mallory Ortberg

Daniel Mallory Ortberg will be in town all the way from the States this winter, speaking at a number of MWF events. Ortberg is the author of such titles as Texts from Jane Eyre and The Merry Spinster, and famously hosted Slate magazine’s podcast Dear Prudence. In one such event on Sunday 8 September, Ortberg will speak in his Australian debut with Virginia Trioli about everything from addiction to consent to ghosting to transitioning and more.

Find out how to see Daniel Mallory Ortberg at MWF here


Val McDermid

Scottish heavyweight crime author Val McDermid (you’ll know her from such thrillers as Broken Ground) will be appearing in a number of thrilling events at the festival this year. In For the Love of Crime, McDermid will speak with local crime writers Mark Brandi (Wimmera, The Rip) and Christian White (The Nowhere Child) about a life of crime (writing). The authors will talk all things living on the wrong side of the law, even if it’s only in fiction. McDermid has a new book in August – How the Dead Speak. Stay tuned.

Find out how to see Val McDermid at MWF here


Eve L Ewing

An international guest for the Marvel fans! Chicago-born Eve L Ewing is an academic, writer and visual artist. Ewing also happens to be the current writer of the Marvel series Ironheart (available mid-August). This year at MWF, she’ll be speaking with Sami Shah about working with Marvel in the famed superhero stable, as well as combining the themes of power (‘iron’) and morality (‘heart’). She’ll also be speaking with An American Marriage author Tayari Jones, so get your tickets quick!

Find out how to see Eve L Ewing at MWF here


Kim Gordon

Co-founder of Sonic Youth Kim Gordon is a figurehead of American music-making and storytelling, and one of the most significant and important figures in rock music over the last 30 years. She’s also a visual artist, writer, actress, and designer. Inspired yet? Gordon will be visiting us to chat with Fee-B Squared about her varied, dynamic career. While you wait for the 1 September event, check out Gordon’s memoir, Girl in a Band, in which she navigates girlhood to womanhood and the music and art scenes of New York City in the 80s and 90s.

Find out how to see Kim Gordon at MWF here


DeRay Mckesson

Five years ago, DeRay Mckesson quit his day job as a school teacher, moving to Ferguson, Missouri and spending the next 400 days on the streets as an activist for the Black Lives Matter movement. He is now a leading civil rights activist. He’s also penned a visionary call to action, On the Other Side of Freedom. You can also see Mckesson at this year’s festival when he will be speaking in two sessions; On the Other Side of Freedom with Benjamin Law and Anger and Justice with Roj Amedi, Nayuka Gorrie and Eleanor Jackson.

Find out how to see DeRay Mckesson at MWF here


Helen Clark

Helen Clark has had an inspiring career – she is the former Prime Minister of New Zealand (1999–2008) and was a leading figure in the UN Development Programme (2009–2017). At this year’s MWF, she’ll be speaking with State Library CEO Kate Torney about her four-decades-long career and women’s empowerment. Clark is a leading voice in championing sustainable development, climate action, gender equality and women’s leadership, peace and justice, and advocates for action on non-communicable diseases and HIV.

Find out how to see Helen Clark at MWF here

Find the rest of the MWF program here. There’s something for everyone!

On the Other Side of Freedom

On the Other Side of Freedom

DeRay Mckesson

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