For 2014, the Adelaide Festival’s Adelaide Writers’ Week program has absolutely out-done itself, bringing authorial stars unlike any year previous. Eighty-seven authors make up the immense line-up, with their talents to be showcased at the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Gardens from Saturday, March 1, to Thursday, March 6.
Every year, Adelaideans look forward to a week of literary delights—children’s events, author talks and book signings—to satisfy all of our readerly urges. For 2014, the Adelaide Festival’s Adelaide Writers’ Week program has absolutely out-done itself, bringing authorial stars unlike any year previous. Eighty-seven authors make up the immense line-up, with their talents to be showcased at the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Gardens from Saturday, March 1, to Thursday, March 6. Many Adelaide Writers’ Week authors featured in our Summer Reading guide; the Writers’ Week Director Laura Kroetsch also listed her picks. Prize-winners are the major drawcards here, with the 2013 Miles Franklin and Man Booker recipients, Michelle de Kretser and Eleanor Catton, in attendance. Alongside these ladies will be Rachel Kushner (USA), whose National Book Award nominee The Flamethrowers made the 10 Best Books of 2013 list in the New York Times Book Review. Alexis Wright, Lloyd Jones, Chris Womersley, David Vann, Fiona Capp, Tony Birch, David Malouf, Margaret Drabble … the list of exceedingly impressive writers is astounding. Aside from big-name authors, the program’s content will also prove highly interesting. The list of topics planned to be discussed is as vast and curious as the world of words itself. “This year is all about big books and big ideas—be it in fiction, non-fiction or comics,” Director Laura Kroetsch says. Illicit drugs, the Great Barrier Reef, love, class, families, gold mines, God and politics will all play their part in the week’s festivities. Australian authors make up two thirds of the bill, and the strength of the homegrown names highlights the quality of our local talent pool. Adelaide’s own success story, the marvellous Hannah Kent of Burial Rites phenomenon, will be in back in town, as will other South Australians: Phil Cummings, Katrina Germein, Mem Fox, Anna Goldsworthy, Philip Jones, Jennifer Mills and Philip Nitschke. For the non-fiction fans amongst us, there are a range of topics on the table, designed to intrigue and educate. Marcus Chown is armed with his humourous and informative science books (Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You); Diarmaid MacCulloch has recently followed up A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years with Silence: A Christian History; Paul Ham is celebrating the release of 2013’s chunkiest history: 1914. These three authors will present special ticketed events to discuss their areas of expertise, with Ham joined by fellow World War I historians Margaret MacMillan (The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914) and Sean McMeekin (July 1914: Countdown to War). “The evening session[s] in Elder Hall feature some of our most acclaimed and often controversial thinkers for robust conversations about contemporary science, war’s legacies, and the power of the Church,” Kroetsch says. The program of biographical excellence continues with Australian Kate Richards (Madness: A Memoir), and Jung Chang (Wild Swans) promises to enlighten us with her tale of China’s unofficial and progressive matriarch, Empress Dowager Cixi. The international success stories are vibrant and many. Lebanese/American Rabih Alameddine brings us his critically- and peer-acclaimed new release, An Unnecessary Woman. Alexander McCall Smith continues to be both entertaining and prolific, having just published his 44th novel, The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon. Well known as a delightful and humorous speaker, McCall Smith is certainly one to add to the diary. Rayya Elias, who fled Syria with her family when she was eight, will present her autobiography Harley Loco: A Memoir of Hard Living, Hair, and Post Punk, from the Middle East to the Lower East Side. It is a story about conflict, courage and rebellion—streetside grit meeting music meeting art—and comes complete with seven original songs as a “soundtrack” to the book. The introduction to Harley Loco was written by fellow Writers’ Week attendee, Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love), who will be on hand to discuss her first novel, The Signature Of All Things. This year, Writers’ Week will celebrate the greater world surrounding the written word, featuring a comics program on Sunday, March 2. Comics Can Do Anything (featuring Many Ord, Tim Molloy, Alison Bechdel and others) is an exploration into the power, breadth and depth of the graphic novel universe. Remarking on the intelligence and increasing visibility of the so-called “invisible art”, Comics Can Do Anything is a particular feature of the program that Director Laura Kroetsch is excited to see succeed. With the children’s weekend featuring Australia’s bestselling children’s author and co-creator of popular 13 Storey Treehouse, Andy Griffiths, there will certainly be entertainment for all ages. The souvenir program is available now for $10 through bookshops, with the program schedule accessible online through the Adelaide Festival website. Adelaide Writers’ Week Line-up International Writers: Rabih Alameddine (LEB) Bernardo Atxaga/Jose Irazu Garmendia (SPA) Alison Bechdel (USA) Jenny Bornholdt (NZ) Eleanor Catton (NZ) Jung Chang (CHI/UK, pictured) Marcus Chown (UK) Louise Doughty (UK) Margaret Drabble (UK, pictured) Helen Dunmore (UK) Rayya Elias (SYR/USA) Zoe Ferraris (USA) Elizabeth Gilbert (USA) Lloyd Jones (NZ) Elizabeth Knox (NZ) Rachel Kushner (USA) Alexander McCall Smith (UK) Sean McMeekin (USA) Diarmaid MacCulloch (UK, pictured) Margaret Macmillan (CAN) Greg O’Brien (NZ) Jordi Punti (SPA) Jaspreet Singh (CAN) Francis Spufford (UK) Jeet Thayil (IND) Adriaan van Dis (NED) David Vann (USA) David Waltner-Toews (CAN) John Waters (USA) D W Wilson (CAN) Yang Lian (CHI) Australian Writers: Robert Adamson Asphyxia Joelie Atkinson Lenny Bartulin Tony Birch Stuart Campbell Fiona Capp Gabrielle Carey Steven Carroll Phil Cummings Stephen Daisley David Day Michelle de Kretser Amy Espeseth Anna Fienberg Richard Flanagan Mem Fox Kimberley Freeman Kim Gamble Katrina Germein Anna Goldsworthy Pat Grant Nicki Greenberg Andy Griffiths Paul Ham Simon Hanselmann Kristyn Harman Ken Harper – Slapstick Theatre Kathryn Heyman Patrick Holland Lisa Jacobson Catherine Jinks Philip Jones Tom Keneally Hannah Kent Iain McCalman Roger McDonald Fiona McFarlane David Malouf Jennifer Mills Tim Molloy Frank Moorhouse Philip Nitschke Louis Nowra Mandy Ord Geoff Page Boori Monty Pryor Henry Reynolds Kate Richards Mandy Sayer Cory Taylor Mark Tredinnick Christos Tsiolkas Chris Womersley Alexis Wright Clare Wright