The Wheeler Centre has released a new program covering the depth and breadth of contemporary writing. A rapping novelist? Check. America’s biggest author? Check. One of Australia’s most iconic visual artists? Check. The host of This American Life performing a live radio broadcast and dance show? Check, check, check.

Jonathan Franzen came to international prominence when he released his third novel, The Corrections, in 2001, a realist saga about the depths of family anxiety. With his follow-up novels, Freedom and Purity, Franzen has become one of the most talked-about novelists in America, and one of the few authors for whom a new release is an event. Franzen will be taking a side-trip from the Sydney Writers’ Festival on May 25.

Then there’s the irrepressible Ken Done. His bold, colourful and almost naive paintings were ubiquitous in ’80s and ’90s Australia. His work was everywhere, from galleries to phone cards to T-shirts, and it came to define a period of national optimism. Done will discuss his new memoir, A Life Coloured In, on April 14.

You might have caught young visionary Kate Tempest performing cuts from her blistering debut album Everybody Down at Mona Foma or Sugar Mountain. Or you might have encountered her award-winning epic poem Brand New Ancients. Or seen her acclaimed debut novel, The Bricks That Built the Houses, in bookstores. She’s something of a prodigy. She’ll be spouting anger with wit and eloquence with Melbourne writer Maxine Beneba Clarke in May.

As announced last month, This American Life host Ira Glass will be in town for Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host which combines live radio and contemporary dance. Glass will perform the show with New York-based dancers Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass on July 14 and 15.

And then there’s the more audacious stuff. Some of Australia’s best writers for grown-ups, including Kate Holden, Chloe Hooper and David Marr, will re-tell their material as if for children at Bedtime Stories on May 6. But be wary that it’s for big people only. Chloe Hooper’s The Tall Man re-worked for an audience of toddlers could be a traumatic experience.

But there’s the raft of material for kids. Canadian picture book author Jon Klassen, author of I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat, will be running a storytelling and drawing workshop on May 22, for example. BYO hat.

Full program and tickets at