This month, the Wheeler Center, in partnership with the Sydney Writer’s Festival, brings us Ten – five enthralling nights of literature with 10 of the finest international writers.
Each night, a pair of writers will be showcased in back-to-back events. Among these eclectic pairs are luminaries and game-changers of the literary scene, old and new.
First up is Sjón and Roddy Doyle. From fellow Cities of Literature, Reykjavik resident Síon and Dubliner Doyle each draw inspiration from the local, with their homelands remaining central to their art. Sjón is a rock ‘n’ roll renaissance man, who has penned lyrics for Björk among many others. His latest novel From the Mouth of the Whale has been shortlisted for the 2012 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. With a Booker Prize under his belt, Doyle is a self-publishing success story who has gone from cult hero to cornerstone of the Irish literary establishment.
Next in line are contemporary American writers Joshua Cody and Jeffrey Eugenides. If anyone can rewrite conventions and break taboos, it is these two. The New York Times labelled Cody’s cerebral cancer memoir [sic] – a gripping account of his experience with cancer combined with tales of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll – “the memoir of the year”. With the darkly hip The Virgin Suicides and gender adventure Middlesex among his oeuvre, it is no surprise that Eugenides has become one of the most celebrated names in contemporary American literature. This will be his first visit to Australia.
If tales of secrets and lies, betrayal and espionage are your thing, you don’t want to miss the Wednesday night event with Stella Rimington and Hisham Matar. Spy novelist extraordinaire Rimington has been dubbed the ‘housewife superspy’, while Libyan writer Matar grew up between Tripoli and Cairo. At the heart of his novels is the tragedy of his father’s kidnapping and imprisonment in 1990. His father is considered one of Libya’s ‘disappeared’.
Science is the theme for Thursday and with Dava Sobel and Barbara Arrowsmith-Young as your guides, you will indeed be in good hands. These two women are at the top of their fields. Sobel, a former science reporter for The New York Times, identified the potential of neuroplasticity (the ability to rewire the brain) long before it was the accepted concept it is today. Arrowsmith-Young’s pioneering Arrowsmith Program has helped countless children and adults with learning disabilities and has allowed them to unlock their potential.
Ten draws to a close with two genre-benders, Chad Harbach and Jeanette Winterson. They are known for testing the progressive perimeters of literature, defying conventional wisdom and inventing new genres. Harbach, whose intelligent and addictive prose is reminiscent of Jonathan Franzen, has written a sprawling novel about an unlikely sports star in a liberal arts college in The Art of Fielding. For Winterson, who decided to throw the literary playbook out the window long ago, the truth can be just as strange as fiction.
Ten is on at the Comedy Theatre from Monday May 14 until Friday May 18. Tickets and information at the Wheeler Centre.
We have two double passes to each night of the Ten program to give away. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Ten at the Wheeler and which night you’d like to attend' in the subject line.