Chris Gordon shares her top picks for MWF Digital: Week 1

Our head of events and programming, Chris Gordon, shares her top picks for the first weekend of this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival. The 2020 festival runs from 7-16 August, and will be entirely online.

Lockdown in Melbourne is tough the second time round. We are all starting to fray at the edges, watch television we wouldn’t have dreamed of months ago, and our gardens are all weed-free. What to do on a rainy day…? What to do to make the weekend special…?

The Melbourne Writer’s Festival, all online this year, has arrived at the perfect moment. It’s time now to be seduced by other people’s stories, to leap forward with new ideas of how to live well, and to become intimately involved with some of the world’s best writers.

I’ll be settling in for quite a series of tales.

First, there is no way I’m missing the opening night event. Titled Finding the Heart of the Nation, this session is sure to inspire new learnings and imaginings. It will be led by some extraordinary contributors: author and activist Thomas Mayor, academic Megan Davis and lawyer Teela Reid. Together they will discuss what Black Lives Matter means in our own (pathetic) country.

Sophie McNeill, author of We Can’t Say We Didn’t Know will be chatting with Sami Shah about why we need to have courage, be kind, and stay connected to the horrors that the world is facing right now.

I have long been entranced by the work of Kate Grenville and I’m looking forward to hearing her opening address for the Festival. This address will be released as a podcast, and so no bookings are required. I plan to listen at my own leisure as I potter around my balcony garden.

I’m also very excited that Irish author Anne Enright is appearing in conversation with Australian author Gail Jones. (Have you read her new novel, Actress? It’s time to do so now!) Or if like me, you’re looking for a laugh and a wince, make sure to check out Kevin Kwan chatting about his laugh-out-loud new novel, Sex and Vanity. This is the perfect follow-up to his Crazy Rich Asians trilogy.

I’ll also be encouraging anyone I know with children 10 and under to tap into the session with much-loved children’s author Sally Rippin as she chats to my former work colleague (and dear friend) Andrew McDonald along with illustrator Ben Wood – both of Real Pigeons fame! I promise that this duo will have your kids giggling and rejoicing with silly conversation and drawing activities.

This is just a small sampler of what’s on offer in this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival, which has adopted a Pay What You Can ticketing model for 2020 to ensure greatest access for all. You can browse the full program and book tickets here.

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A Room Made of Leaves

A Room Made of Leaves

Kate Grenville

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