Melbourne Writers Festival Highlights

The program for the Melbourne Writers Festival is out now and looks great. Here, we share some of our highlights and the sessions we’re planning to see.

Bronte is seeing

If you’ve ever spoken with me about Junot Díaz, or read my review of his second short-story collection This Is How You Lose Her, you’d know I’m one of his embarrassing fans and obviously this means he makes my list of must-see writers at MWF this year. I tend to think he’s a terrific reader - click here to hear him read the story, ‘How to Date a Brown Girl, (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie)’.

I’m also pretty psyched that another one of my literary crushes will be attending the festival this year - Colm Tóibín. He’s one of my favourite prose writers and here’s a quote from his novel, The South, which is one I come back to again and again:

“*The memory of the day became as fixed as the rock all around: the memory of watching the first snow and the expectation of being there together, closed in, immune, ready for any happiness that came their way.*”

Another event I’m looking forward to is Asian Stories Australian Postcodes. Chi Vu of Anguli Ma: a Gothic Tale, and Julienne van Loon of Harmless, will be talking about ways they’ve transferred Asian mythologies into Australian settings.

I’m also definitely attending The Lifted Brow Launch for which the team behind the Brow have tasked themselves with producing an issue of their literary magazine from scratch during the Melbourne Writers Festival. I love this publication and I’m excited to see what they produce.

And even though I’m missed out on tickets to hear Tavi Gevinson speak (I’m just a little bit devastated by this fact) I’ve been somewhat consoled by reading through some of her other writing online. I’m constantly impressed by what she has achieved and am sure she’ll be fantastic to see.

Belle is seeing

This year I’m planning to see the following…

Inside the London Review of Books

Last year I heard a cast of current New Yorker staffers speak at the Melbourne Town Hall about what it’s like to work for the magazine, and I’m hoping that this session with members of the London Review of Books’ editorial and contributing staff will also lift the veil, a little, to the inner-workings of such a clever and wide-ranging publication.

In Conversation: Junot Díaz

I read Junot Díaz’s collection of stories, This is How You Lose Her over the summer time and adored it; I found it both funny and heartbreaking. I also have it on good authority from Bronte (see above) that Díaz is very good at reading aloud passages from his books. The voices in his stories are electric - I’d love to hear them spoken aloud by the writer.

In Conversation: Laurent Binet

I loved Laurent Benet’s 2012 historical novel, HHhH, about the assassination of Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich during World War II. I’d like to hear Binet speak about writing between actuality and fiction; I was utterly compelled by this when reading his book.

Nina is seeing

In Conversation: Junot Díaz

I’m going to chime in, as another Junot Diaz fan, and say his in-conversation session is the must-see of the festival for me. If you haven’t read This Is How You Lose Her, stop everything you’re doing and go and read it now. Diaz is a master.

Other sessions that have caught my eye include:

The Politics of Sex

Anna Krien’s Night Games is one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I think her discussion with Welsh-Egyptian author Shereen El Feki on culture, gender and power will be fascinating.

Feminism Now

Anna Goldsworthy and Monica Dux are both terrific Australian writers whose work I have enjoyed. They are also both fantastic speakers, and I think this session will be a highlight for anyone interested in gender politics.

Modern Love

This discussion of romance and erotica looks like it could be a fun and lively session. I’m also a fan of Sarah Wendell’s Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog, so I would be interested to hear her perspective.

The Melbourne Writers Festival runs from 22 August to 1 September.