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Melbourne Writers Festival 2017

For more than three decades, Melbourne Writers Festival has been bringing together the talent and ideas of the best writers from Australia and around the world, to create a unique moment in time which is the highlight of Melbourne’s literary calendar.

The 2017 Melbourne Writers Festival will run from Friday 25 August to Sunday 3 September.

It might be the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution but the Melbourne Writers Festival isn’t entirely dwelling on the past by choosing Revolution as the theme for the 33rd instalment of the annual literary beanfeast.


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Whether you’re a reader of literature, news, graphic novels, film and TV reviews, or even memes, there’s definitely something for everyone who reads at MWF 2017.

Don’t know where to start? We’re here to help!

Festival Highlights

For this year’s biggest names, check out our Festival Highlights. From iconic American author Joyce Carol Oates to award-winning Indigenous writer Kim Scott, these events

Big Ideas

For stimulating discussion and debate on the hottest topics setting the media ablaze, check out our Big Ideas sessions, supported by The Monthly.

Feminism Plus

We’re taking the conversation around feminism further with these sessions. Join Reni Eddo-Lodge, Clementine Ford, Meena Kandasamy, Laurie Penny, Jenny Valentish and more as they unpack contemporary feminist discourse.

Industry Insights

Budding writers, editors and publishers! Get up and personal with those in the know at our Industry Insights sessions, where you’ll learn the tricks of the trade.

Protest & Persist

Presented in partnership with Right Now, join Jax Jacki Brown, Nayuka Gorrie, Ruby Hamad and other speakers, activists and writers as they deconstruct hot-button topics like identity politics and the exploitation of culture.

Asia What?

What are the ‘authentic’ stories of Asians and ‘Asian-ness’? How are Asian narratives crafted, and as settlers, what are their relationships with Indigenous peoples? Explore these provocations through discussions, performances, workshops and more.

Children & Teens

There’s something for kids of all ages at MWF. There’s workshops for the little ones, a special #LoveOzYA event, and an all-day celebration of 20 years of Harry Potter! And for the young, emerging creatives, we’ve also got some great events at Signal, featuring podcasting tips, creative writing workshops and a chance to ask your favourite YA novelists about their work.

Live & Social

From exhibitions to parties, performances to walks, experience something a little fun and interactive with our Live & Social events.

Local Libraries

Lit lovers based outside of the CBD, fear not – some of the best writers from Australia and abroad are hitting the suburbs for our Local Libraries series. Check out if they’re appearing at a library near you.

Festival promise a page turner

The birth of the Soviet state may have inspired the theme, but outgoing festival director Lisa Dempster said she wanted to come up with the people, writers, thinkers, activists leading us into a better tomorrow.

‘‘ We are at a turning point in so many ways in terms of global politics , race relations, the future of media and things like that,’’ she said. ‘‘ We’re exploring revolution and social movements past, present and future, and considering how literature can be a platform for revolutionary ideas and thinking in dark times.’’

She says the festival had worked hard to new voices, emerging voices and young voices to appear next month. ‘‘ I think the line-up is quite different from what it’s been in previous years.’’

Among those young, emerging voices are Reni Eddo-Lodge , author of Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race, transgender activist and writer Janet Mock, feminist author Laurie Penny, and YA author Angie Thomas, whose novel is about the Blacklivesmatter movement, police brutality and racism in the United States.

Among the more traditional guests are the prolific American novelist Joyce Carol Oates, whom Dempster has been trying to entice to the festival for years. ‘‘ She’s going to be talking about bearing witness as a novelist and the role of a novelist in these politically turbulent times that we live in.’’

Indigenous author and double Miles Franklin winner Kim Scott will deliver the opening night address , the first time an Indigenous writer has done so. ‘‘ Separate from his cultural background,’’ Dempster said, ‘‘ Kim Scott is just one of Australia’s best contemporary novelists.’’

Other international guests next month include novelists Nir Baram, Tracy Chevalier, Elizabeth Kostova, Dirk Kurbjuweit, Kevin Kwan, Min Jin Lee, historian Frank Dikotter, journalists Robert Fisk and David Grann, and Indian politician, novelist and former UN under-secretary-general Shashi Tharoor.

Local guests include Christos Tsiolkas, Stan Grant, Susan Carland, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Robert Dessaix, Robert Drewe, Clementine Ford, Sheila Fitzpatrick, Kate Grenville, and John Safran.

Dempster said that in the five years that she had run the festival it had grown significantly . ‘‘ The audience has diversified in a lot of different ways. It is a lot younger audience.’’

She said some of her programming had been more conceptual and she was particularly proud to have presented more Asian and Asian-Australian writers.

There is one other anniversary not to be ignored by a festival director that is not political, although arguably it is revolutionary in its impact on the book world. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first Harry Potter book and there will be a day devoted to the boy wizard. ‘‘ We are expecting a big turnout of children, families and hardcore harry Potter fans, of which we have many in the festival office ,’’ Dempster said.

The Melbourne Writers Festival runs from August 25 to September 3.

Jason Steger | The Age is a festival sponsor.

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