Melbourne Writers Festival

Calling all book obsessives: 2024's literary fest includes Toshikazu Kawaguchi, Michael Cunningham, Ann Patchett and Ziggy Ramo.
Sarah Ward
Published on March 22, 2024

Overview

Bibliophiles, do you use writers festivals to hear from all of the authors that you've been reading over the past year? Are you on the hunt for your next favourite scribes? Do you see the program as a to-do list of books that you need to dig into before the fest rolls around? Whichever fits, 2024's Melbourne Writers Festival has you sorted. With some of the names on its lineup, you probably will have already devoured their work — and if you haven't with others, prepare to start poring over pages now.

Set to run from Monday, May 6—Sunday, May 12, this year's MWF is the last under current Artistic Director Michaela McGuire — who has help this year from festival curators Mykaela Saunders and Ziggy Ramo. You'll find both the Koori/Goori and Lebanese writer and the Wik and South Sea Islander rapper on the program themselves, including the latter chatting about his memoir and performing live. Yes, that's just the beginning of 2024's festival frenzy.

A heap of international names are making their way to the Victorian capital to celebrate words, words and more words. Before the Coffee Gets Cold's Toshikazu Kawaguchi is one such talent, in what'll be his first trip to Australia — and he's exclusively appearing at MWF. Irish novelist Paul Lynch, 2023's Booker Prize-winner for Prophet Song, is also a big drawcard. So is Ann Patchett, with the Tom Lake author heading Down Under for the first time in more than a decade. And, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Cunningham will pick up microphone as well, with The Hours just one of the topics that's bound to come up.

Fancy pondering how to live your life, and also the ownership of the moon, with British philosopher AC Grayling? Hearing about Viet Thanh Nguyen's memoir A Man of Two Faces — and likely about Pulitzer Prize-winner The Sympathizer, too? Getting the inside info on being a food writer from Bryan Washington? Exploring Lauren Groff's Matrix and Fates and Furies? Add them to your schedule.

If you're already feeling spoiled for choice, here's more options: Irish novelist Paul Murray has Booker Prize-nominee The Bee Sting to talk about; 2015 Australian of the Year Rosie Batty will share her memoir Hope; journalists Sean Kelly, David Marr and Laura Tingle will assess the past year; and a session called The Ghost in the Machines will contemplate AI's ability to make art.

Let It Bring Hope is set to be a powerful part of the program, featuring three duos — each including an Aboriginal and a Palestinian poet — reading new works to each other. Tony Birch will team up with Samah Sabawi, Jeanine Leane with Micaela Sahhar, and Nayuka Gorrie with Sara Saleh.

Don't miss MWF's workshops, too, whether you're keen for tips on putting your own personal insights to paper, taking risks, giving true-crime a spin or penning short fiction. Plus, The Gin Closet and The Empathy Exams' Leslie Jamison will be on hand to get everyone crafting on the Monday after the fest, with personal archives — such as emails, diaries and snaps — her focus, as well as the tales they help us tell.

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