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Sydney Writers' Festival 2022

Almost 400 writers and thinkers will take to the stage across 234 events, all linked to this year's theme 'Change My Mind'.
By Sarah Ward
May 16, 2022
By Sarah Ward
May 16, 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 the event's proximity to 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. 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).

Free events are a big part of the program as well, with almost a quarter of the entire lineup costing zip to attend.

Images: Prudence Upton.

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