Current Issue #488

Adelaide Writers’ Week unveils full 2020 program

Helen Garner
Darren James / Text Publishing
Helen Garner

Christos Tsiolkas, Helen Garner and Archie Roach are among the final crop of authors to join the 2020 Adelaide Writers’ Week program.

A regular guest of the festival over the years, Helen Garner will return to discuss her recently published journal collection Yellow Notebook alongside Annabel Crabb on Sunday 1 March. Interestingly, Walkley-winning journalist and onetime Garner critic Virginia Trioli has also joined the program to discuss the post #MeToo landscape on Saturday 29 February, following the republication of her 1997 book Generation F. Written in response to Garner’s polarising handling of a 1992 sexual harassment case in her own book The First Stone, Generation F remains a timely document that highlighted what many perceived as a growing divide between two generations of Australian feminism. Suffice to say, there will be a lot of interesting conversations around the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden that weekend.

In his latest novel Damascus Christos Tsiolkas (The Slap, Barracuda) delves into the dawn of the Christian church, which he will discuss in one of the festival’s first sessions on Saturday 29 February. He’ll be joined in the discussion by David Marr, another Writers’ Week staple who will also appear in a panel alongside previously-announced Four Corners reporter in a timely discussion of the case against George Pell. Between Milligan’s reporting and expansive book Cardinal, and Marr’s coverage of the case with The Guardian, the pair have been leading voices in coverage of the Pell trial, which, alongside Tsiolkas, should lay the groundwork for some deep, and potentially excoriating discussions about Christianity and religion across the festival.

Virginia Trioli
Jason Ierace
Virginia Trioli
Christos Tsiolkas’ Damascus

Last year songwriter Archie Roach made the leap to the literary world with his memoir Tell Me Why, a striking book that also serves as a spirited and often heartbreaking personal history of 20th century Australia. He’ll speak about the memoir on Wednesday 4 March, while a discussion between University of Adelaide historian and Stolen Generations survivor Dr Jenni Caruso and A Stolen Life author Antonio Buti will offer complementary insights into the ongoing trauma of child removal politics the next day.

Coming out of a devastating fire season, the climate emergency will be explored on Monday 2 March by two of the leading voices in the decades-long conversation about decarbonising Australia, author and Climate Council leader Tim Flannery and Professor Ross Garnaut, whose prescient 2008 Climate Change Review has received renewed attention in recent weeks.

Other current affairs writers will include Australia authors Antony Loewenstein, whose 2019 book Pills, Powder, and Smoke: Inside the Bloody War on Drugs explored, well, what it says on the cover, and Jeff Sparrow, whose recently published Fascists Among Us is a confronting but necessary dissection of the far right communities and beliefs that fed the Australian-born perpetrator of the Christchurch Massacre. Sparrow will discuss combatting extremism alongside reformed white supremacist The Cure for Hate author Tony McAleer.

Adrian Cook
Archie Roach
Ross Garnaut
N Bebbingtont
Ross Garnaut

Also joining the 2020 program are Eggshell Skull author Bri Lee, Canadian writer Michael Christie, Anna Goldsworthy (whose latest novel Melting Moments is due next month), Walkely-winning reporter and former foreign correspondent Sophie McNeill, The Glad Shout writer Alice Robinson and Penny Wong biographer Margaret Simons. The festival’s growing appreciation for slam poetry will also continue with a lineup of poets including Jessica Alice, Manal Younus, Anne-Marie Te Whiu, Laniyuk, Luka Lesson and Audrey Mason-Hyde.

While the timing of Margaret Atwood’s oddly Adelaide-less tour raised hopes that the Handmaid’s Tale author might be a late, high profile addition to the 2020 program, they have now well and truly been put to rest. However, Premier Steven Marshall’s invocation of an old Atwood quote at last night’s program launch – in which Atwood described Adelaide Writers’ Week as setting the standard for the modern literary festival – makes one suspect that, just maybe, she’s planning to head along as an audience member.

This final group of authors join an earlier list that includes 2019 Man Booker International Prize-winning Omani author Jokha Alharthi, 2019 Stella Prize winner Vickie Laveau-Harvie, US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, Bob Hawke’s longtime biographer and widow Blanche D’Alpuget, and Don Dunstan biographer Angela Woollacott.

UPDATE: Bruce Pascoe has withdrawn from the 2020 program, citing the impact of bushfires on his home in East Gippsland

View the full adelaide writers’ week 2020 program

Adelaide Writers’ Week final announcement

Dennis Altman
Dr Antonio Buti
Martijn Boersma
Dr Jennifer Caruso
Michael Christie
Wai Chim
Michael Earp
Tim Flannery
Chris Fleming
Mandy Foot
Ross Garnaut
Helen Garner
Anna Goldsworthy
Vicki Hastrich
Andrew Joyner
Anna Krien
Dr Meredith Lake
Bri Lee
Antony Loewenstein

David Marr
Mohammed Massoud Morsi Tony McAleer
Sophie McNeill
Justine Nolan
Lucia Osborne-Crowley
Kavita Puri
John Quiggin
Nicola Redhouse
Archie Roach
Alice Robinson
Margaret Simons
Jeff Sparrow
Christos Tsiolkas
Virginia Trioli
Donna Ward
Mandy Whyte

29 February – 5 March

Adelaide Writers’ Week 2020

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Walter Marsh

Walter Marsh

Digital Editor
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Walter is a writer and editor living on Kaurna Country.

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