This year’s AWW will take place from March 2-7 in the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden.

In addition to guest authors already listed in the 2024 Adelaide Festival program – such as Booker Prize-winning Irish novelist Anne Enright and Australians Trent Dalton, Pip Williams, Alexis Wright, Christos Tsiolkas, Charlotte Wood and Melissa Lucashenko – around 70 further writers have been added to the line-up.

They include Richard Flanagan, who will talk about his latest book Question 7, Kathy Lette, discussing her new novel The Revenge Club, and “national treasure” Thomas Keneally, who will be celebrated in a Saturday session titled Thomas Keneally and Friends – one of 12 Director’s Choice events that will be available to stream from home.

Adelaide Writers’ Week director Louise Adler. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

“I’m hoping that all 135 sessions provide our devoted audience with lots to think about,” Louise Adler told InReview.

“Our theme is ‘The past is not another country’ – all the poets, novelists and non-fiction writers we’ve invited are thinking about the past and how it informs this moment.”

Two previously announced ticketed events at the Town Hall – “The Grande Dames of Letters”, featuring Dame Mary Beard, Anne Enright, Jane Smiley and Elizabeth Strout, and “The Rest is Politics”, with former UK Labour communications director Alistair Campbell and (via live stream) former Tory cabinet minister Rory Stewart – have already sold out.

A newly added ticketed session titled “Family Circus” will be co-hosted by Sarah Kanowski and Richard Fidler from the ABC’s Conversations radio program and will see authors Keneally, Tsiolkas, Martin Flanagan, Wendy Harmer and Lisa Millar share real stories from their own families. “Prepare to laugh, cry and maybe duck for cover,” advises the AWW program.

The 2024 Writers’ Week is the second presented by former publisher Adler, whose 2023 program became embroiled in controversy over the inclusion of two Palestinian writers who had sparked anger with earlier public comments about Israel and Ukraine.

Asked by InReview whether the backlash had prompted any changes in her approach to programming this year’s event, Adler said she was “very pleased that AWW in 2023 was a place for humane, empathetic and civilised discussion”.

“I’m confident that we will have the same rich dialogue this year. I like to keep in mind Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart’s brief: to disagree agreeably.”

She predicts that the authors likely to draw the biggest crowds are Campbell, Enright and renowned UK classicist Dame Mary Beard (Emperor of Rome), all of whom will speak at free sessions in the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden as well as participating in the Town Hall events.

Author Trent Dalton. Photo: David Kelly

Other sessions likely to prove especially popular are those featuring Miles Franklin and Stella prize-winning First Nations author Alexis Wright, talking about her latest novel Praiseworthy with Nicholas Jose, bestselling Adelaide Hills writer Pip Williams discussing her second novel The Bookbinder of Jericho, and Boy Swallows Universe author Trent Dalton reflecting on his writing and recently published book Lola in the Mirror.

Politics will come to the fore in sessions with discussion topics such as “You, Me and the B52s” (about the AUKUS alliance), “The Israel/Palestine Question”, “Trump, the Future and Global Influence”, and “The History of Hamas”. Independent think-tank The Australia Institute has also partnered with Writers’ Week for several talks.

SA-based First Nations writers Ali Cobby Eckermann, Brad Darkson, Dominic Guerrera and Karen Wyld will talk about “continuity and the power of story” in a session on the Wednesday of the literary festival, while other local authors discussing their books will include Walter Marsh (author of Young Rupert) and Rachael Mead (The Art of Breaking Ice).

While the South Australian Literary Awards (previously the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature) have been uncoupled from Writers’ Week, the 2024 Stella Prize longlist will for the first time be announced during a session at 5pm on Monday on the north stage. The winner of the 2024 MUD Literary Prize for the best debut novel by an Australian writer will be be presented with their prize earlier the same afternoon on the west stage.

It was announced yesterday that a $10,000 prize will be awarded annually and in perpetuity to the winner of the MUD Literary Prize after the MUD Literary Club hit its fundraising target of $250,000 ­– thanks in large part to a $50,000 contribution from the Nunn Dimos Foundation. Previous winners of the prize include Pip Williams for The Dictionary of Lost Words and Trent Dalton for Boy Swallows Universe.

“This is an outstanding effort from a very small group of committed South Australian philanthropists to literary endeavours and elevates the status of the prize enormously,” Adler said of the fundraising result.

The 2024 Adelaide Writers’ Week will take place from March 2-7 in the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden. The full program is now online.

Note: Alexis Wright will also be discussing her new novel Praiseworthy at the next Stories from the South Book Club event on February 27 at Dymocks Rundle Mall (details here). 

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