opening address: SWF.

The Sydney Writers’ Festival kicked off tonight with a welcome to country (complete with Stiff Gins), thanks to sponsors (thank you!), speeches from dignitaries,

and an opening addrdownloadess from author Andrew Solomon. (SMH article).

Solomon is a US writer, journalist and LGBT activist. His address was wide-ranging, but had a general focus on his latest book, “Far From The Tree”, which is an exploration of raising children with differences. It was introduced with a short film featuring some of those children and parents. Solomon underlined his points with stories about his own youth as a bullied child and his otherness as a gay man, as well as some occasionally shocking stories about the people he spoke to for his book. He repeated a mantra of ‘forging meaning, finding identity’ – a little fuzzy, perhaps. But I was struck by his suggestion that adversity contains within it the seeds of its own overcoming.

The new book is 960 pages long and took 11 years to write. Solomon is erudite and engaging, and certainly had his audience thinking. Which is apt, as the SWF’s slogan this year is “It’s thinking season…”  The Festival kicked off on the right foot.

Andrew Solomon is speaking again on Sunday.


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