This year’s Sydney Writers Festival theme is bibliotherapy; the catharsis of a good read. Listening to a writer discuss their work, ideas and creative processes can be as epiphany-heavy as the last pages of a novel. But the time for epiphanies is running out – the weeklong festival wraps up on Sunday.
There are still plenty of talks and panels on over the weekend, including a few with headliner writers and speakers.
Here are our picks of last minute events.
Inside the New Yorker
Get an insight into one of the world’s most influential magazines with a discussion featuring past and present New Yorker editors Ann Goldstein, Amelia Lester and Paul Muldoon. They’ll discuss making controversial decisions, working with and editing some of the world’s best writers, and what they’ve learned and continue to learn on the job.
Friday May 20, 3pm–4pm, Roslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay $25–$35.
SWF Gala: The Book That Saved Me
Occasionally it can feel as though we’re reading a book at just the right time. At this event writers, including Jeanette Winterson, Kate Tempest, Vivian Gornick, Herman Koch, Marlon James and Andrew Denton, will talk about the books that shaped and saved them both as writers and as people.
Friday May 20, 8.15pm–9.45pm, Sydney Town Hall, $30–$55.
Gloria Steinem: A Life on the Road
A pioneer of second-wave feminism, Gloria Steinem will reflect on her career and personal influences in a talk based on her recently released memoir, My Life on the Road. The festival announced this second Steinem talk after the first sold out – understandable, considering this marks Steinem’s first appearance in Australia since the 1980s.
Saturday May 21 3pm–4pm, Sydney Town Hall, $30–$55.
Jonathan Franzen: Purity
Time Magazine once called him the “great American novelist”. Jonathan Franzen continues the tender critique of middle-America he presented in his novels Freedom and The Corrections with his latest work, Purity. Franzen will talk with Anna Funder (author of All That I Am) about the issues he writes about in Purity: government surveillance, Wikileaks-styled activism and dysfunctional families.
Saturday May 21 8.30pm–9.30pm, Sydney Town Hall, $25–$45.
PJ Vogt: Reply All
PJ Vogt is one half of Reply All, a weekly podcast that explores the mysterious troughs of the internet. One highlight episode is ‘In The Desert’, about how the Find My iPhone app keeps sending angry strangers searching for their stolen phone to a couple’s house. At this free talk Vogt will speak with The Chaser’s Julian Morrow about the beautiful highs and dark lows of the wild web.
Sunday May 22 11.30am–12.30pm, Pier 2/3 Club Stage, Walsh Bay, Free (no bookings).
2016 Closing Address Hanya Yanagihara: The Conversations Between Words
To close the festival, author of last year’s bestseller A Little Life Hanya Yanagihara will consider whether a writer “owes” their readers anything. Yanagihara will ask whether a reader’s time and trust can be taken for granted by a writer, and, considering her own violent and bleak characters, whether writers should use restraint in coaxing out an emotional response from readers. The writer has power: how should they use it?
Sunday May 22 6pm–6.50pm, Roslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay $25–$45.
The Sydney Writers Festival is on now and continues until Sunday 22 May. Tickets are available here.