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Sydney Writers' Festival 2022 Will Host Almost 400 Writers and Thinkers Across 234 Events

Embracing the current uncertain times, this year's theme is 'Change My Mind' — with the lineup led by Booker Prize-winner Damon Galgut.
By Sarah Ward
March 25, 2022
By Sarah Ward
March 25, 2022

When you're a major literary showcase, you're dedicated to not only celebrating words but examining the topical ideas they discuss, and you've weathered the considerable pandemic-inspired ups and downs that every event has over the past two years, what do you focus your next big fest on? If you're Sydney Writers' Festival, you embrace the chaos and uncertainty that's been inescapable of late — all thanks to a whopping 2022 program on the theme 'Change My Mind'.

As Artistic Director Michael Williams explains, this year's SWF "is underpinned by a sense of urgency and a dedication to change. It is a response to a world where public debate is increasingly polarised and toxic."

"Change My Mind is an invitation, a challenge and a promise of intent. Because uncertain times — a world divided and ruptured, at odds and in crisis — requires a willingness to be open-minded, and a commitment to generosity and reciprocity," Williams continues.

That's what SWF will be skewed towards when it runs across Monday, May 16–Sunday, May 22, hosting almost 400 writers and thinkers across 234 events around the city. And, that theme for the year is particularly timely, too, given that the event will also likely take place either during or just after the federal election.

Taking to stage to get chatting: The Promise Booker Prize-winner Damon Galgut, To Paradise's Hanya Yanagihara, and Becoming Abolitionists writer — and human rights lawyer and activist — Derecka Purnell, who lead the international contingent of guests. All three will be heading to Sydney in-person, in fact. Other global speakers will do the honours via livestream, which is how Rebecca Solnit (Orwell's Roses), Art Spiegelman (Maus) and Jennifer Egan (The Candy House) join the bill, alongside Claudia Rankine (Just Us), Julian Barnes (Elizabeth Finch), Sarah Winman (Still Life), Torrey Peters (Detransition, Baby) and Johann Hari (Stolen Focus),

A trio of overseas-based Aussies will be doing the same: Warren Ellis, chatting about Nina Simone's Simone's Gum, and video-linking in ahead of his Australian tour with Nick Cave later in the year, plus Yassmin Abdel-Magied (Talking About A Revolution) and Steve Toltz (Here Goes Nothing).

Other highlights include Ali Cobby Eckermann (Inside My Mother), Jackie Huggins (Sister Girl) and Nardi Simpson (Song of the Crocodile) opening the fest at Sydney Town Hall; Chloe Hooper (Bedtime Story) doing the closing night address at Carriageworks; and the return of the dual-author Aussie spotlights — pairing Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers' Liane Moriarty with Caroline Overington, Brendan Cowell with Boy Swallows Universe's Trent Dalton, and Clementine Ford with Bridie Jabour, for instance.

Or, word nerds can head to a gala session about using storytelling to change minds, enjoy a song-filled literary night about the finest musical adaptations never made, but up the club stage at Carriageworks — complete with The Literary Death Match, Queerstories, and a Nakkiah Lui-hosted session on radical and rebellious storytellers — and soak in the politics-focused Party Room Live with Barrie Cassidy, Fran Kelly and Patricia Karvelas.

Free events are a big part of the program as well, with almost a quarter of the entire lineup costing zip to attend. And if you're wondering where you're heading, the venue list also includes City Recital Hall, Riverside Theatres, and 26 suburban venues and libraries across the Sydney.

Sydney Writers' Festival runs at various venues across Sydney from Monday, May 16–Sunday, May 22 Tickets go on sale at 9am on Friday, March 25 via

Images: Prudence Upton.

Published on March 25, 2022 by Sarah Ward
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