thinking season. #swf2014


Big day at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Winter sunshine like only Sydney can do, sparkling sea down at the wharf precinct, dozens of events and speakers. Here’s the ones I caught:

Coffee and the papers at The Bar at the End of the Wharf, with Sydney Morning herald journos and author Richard King (“On Offence”) discussing the day’s news, free speech, freedom of opinion — a lively start to the day.

‘Life on Two Wheels’ – Emma Ayers (“Cadence”) and Greg Foyster (“Changing Gears”) being amusing and informative about the joys of  bicycle journeys of thousands of kilometres.

David Malouf – 80 years old, gentle and erudite, writer of ‘interior’ novels, poetry, essays and much more. So many brilliant insights.

Jessica Jackley – co-founder of KIVA, on-line micro-lending site helping entrepreneurs in poor villages. Full of energy, ideas and hope for the future.

‘An Unconventional Faith’ – really challenging and thought-provoking panel chaired by John Cleary (ABC radio): Reza Aslan (US Muslim scholar of comparative religions (and, co-incidentally, husband of Jessica Jackley) (“Zealot”); Anthony Lowenstein (Australian ‘Jewish atheist’, journalist, young and certain); Jim Al-Khalili (UK/Iranian physicist & journalist, British Humanist Association). Some real in-depth stuff here. Thinking season indeed.

‘ASIO: Dirty Secrets’ – a new book edited by the redoubtable (and always funny) Meredith Burgmann, about prominent Australians who obtained and read their files kept by ASIO in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Michael Kirby, Elizabeth Evatt (for her father Clive) and Anne Summers. Erudite and articulate older Australians, but talking about a different world.

Eleanor Catton – author of “The Luminaries”. 2013 Man Booker winner. As gorgeous and thoughtful as ever.

Sandi Toksvig – Danish/UK stand-up comic, with a good line in laughs and a few books to sell.



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