Melbourne Writers Festival (MWF) has announced an impressive program for its first-ever all-digital festival, which will run for 10 days in August.

The theme of the event, rechristened MFW Digital, is “attention”. And it’s inviting speakers and audiences to question what captures their attention – and what fails to – in a world grappling with rolling crises.

“Leading thinkers, authors and artists will question where we give our attention and why, unpack how crises force us to reconsider how we connect, and celebrate the words that hold our attention in hard times,” associate director Gene Smith said in a statement.

“Brimming with heart, intellect, and curiosity, I hope this program is the celebration and refuge we need.”

There are 100 international and Australian guests on the line-up, which will mix virtual authors’ talks and panel discussions with podcasts, workshops and more. Most sessions will be “pay what you can”, meaning you can elect to pay anything up to $50 or attend for free, depending on your circumstances.

Highlights of this year’s program include local speakers such as Terra Nullius author and Noongar woman Claire G Coleman, Orange Prize winner Kate Grenville, and Helen Garner, author of modern classic Monkey Grip.

There’ll also be a political deep dive with ex-prime ministers Julia Gillard and Malcolm Turnbull, who will unpack their respective books, Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons and A Bigger Picture.

International speakers on the bill include US bestseller Elizabeth Strout (Olive, Again), Irish writer Anne Enright (Actress), Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan, and New Yorker staff writer (and creator of hit podcast Wind of Change) Patrick Radden Keefe.

There’ll also be a gala event – hosted by author Jamila Rizvi – with 2020 Stella Prize winner Jess Hill, actor and screenwriter Michelle Law, and more.

MWF Digital runs from August 7 to August 16. Tickets for sessions are $0 to $50; workshops are $120 to $140. Bookings are required.

mwf.com.au