The 2016 Sydney Writers Festival - Murder in the Making

Unfortunately I only managed to get to three talks at this year's Sydney Writers Festival, which boasted over 300 events with many local and international authors and writers.  You can check out some of this year's events here on their youtube channel. My final event was Murder in the Making, which was a discussion between Australian fiction and true crime authors about why they decided to write about crime and murder.

The authors involved were Emily Maguire, who not only writes crime fiction but also pens essays and articles on sex, religion and culture; Anna Westbrook, who has just written her debut crime novel; and true crime writer and academic, Alecia Simmonds. The facilitator was Dr Alyce McGovern, a Senior Lecturer in Criminology in the School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at UNSW Australia. 

It was a great discussion that felt like an extension of Gloria Steinem's writing about violence in the home and concepts of masculinity (especially in Australia). These very smart women spoke about the mainstream narrative around victims, such as who 'qualifies' to be a victim; the levels of description around the violence of the crime being written about; and the defining scilence around the fact that there is one woman killed every week in Australia

It is wonderful to see that there are Australian authors (especially women) are writing within the crime genre and challenging the tropes around victims, white male protagonists' and descriptions of violence.

The 2016 Sydney Writers Festival - Gloria Steinem a conversation with Caroline Overington

The original conversation between Gloria Steinem and Australian writer and journalist, Caroline Overington, was sold out pretty quickly and the Sydney Writers Festival very sensibly put on another event yesterday at the Town Hall. Taking her recently published memoir, Life on the Road, Steinem delved into what drivers her as a writer, activist and feminist.

Many things have been written about Steinem and by Steinem. So instead of interpreting over 60 years of life and thoughtm I recommend reading and listening toher yourself, with no intermediary.  Click her to see her recent interview with the Australian Broadcast Corporation

The 2016 Sydney Writers Festival - World War II in Fiction

It is that time of year again in Sydney, the weather turns cold and the writers and readers come out of the woodwork for a week of celebrating the written word. This year's festival started last Saturday, 14 May and will run until this Sunday 22 May. I have only managed to get to to a session yesterday, and was lucky enough to get a ticket for the panel discussion about World War II in Fiction.  

The writer's waiting to start their discussion

The discussion was facilitated by ABC interviewer Michaela Kalowski and involved Nir Baram, an Israeli author, Leah Kaminsky, an Australian writer who's latest book focuses on the impact of the Holocaust on subsequent generations, and Irish author John Boyne, who wrote The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Obviously the gargantuan topic that is World War II honed in on the Holocaust and how each author decided to write about this subject, how they approached it and how they dealt with the impact on their lives.

It was a fascinating conversation that kept coming back to the authors agreeing on being loyal to the story rather than loyal to history. Not that they advocated throwing away historical fact, but that the role of the author is to create a story that runs true to the world created not to the official historical narrative we are told. To set a novel in a place and time in the past only works if it reflects on the issues of today. Each of the novels discussed does this, whether it is a story of a how someone can thrive in a fascists regime, the generational impact of genocide or a child's perspective of war.  What is undeniable is thtat each writer ensured that their protagnosts are well rounded human beings that make decisions to survive. No one is a hero or a villan but a person like you and me.

It was a great way to start the weekend.