Curated by comedian and writer Jennifer Wong, the full program for the festival’s ideas and writing program, In Other Words, has been released today.

The program, which runs on the final weekend of OzAsia Festival, from November 4 to November 6, includes more than 60 writers and thinkers, with more than 30 free sessions covering topics such as artificial intelligence, the ethics of technology, the rise of dictatorships and memoir writing.

Wong, a Chinese-Australian who developed and presented the ABC’s charming Chopsticks or Fork? series about local Chinese restaurants, is continuing a focus of last year’s inaugural program, which highlighted Asian-Australian writers and thinkers.

The pandemic-prompted change in OzAsia’s approach has been welcomed by Wong, who believes new collaborations and work will arise from the November event.

“There really is so much established Asian talent in Australia,” Wong told InReview.

“This year it really does feel like a fully-fledged collaboration of identity, of culture.”

She explains that when someone is the only culturally or linguistically diverse person on a panel, they’re placed in the position of offering the perspective for all people from that background.

“You might also have little opportunity to meet others from around the country who also happen to be from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds because you’re unlikely to be programmed together. I hope that writers and speakers who’ve come from all around Australia will enjoy the opportunity to meet with their peers, form new friendships, and meet potential new collaborators. Who knows what wonderful new work might develop from this gathering in Adelaide?”

Wong’s program, while strong on local talent, also includes international contributions, including from three Afghan women leaders in exile – Nazifa Yusufi Bek, Nafisa Hamed Faryabi and Shakila Abawi Shigarf. The trio, who left Afghanistan after the Taliban regained power, will explore “the human impact of the fall of Afghanistan and what the future holds”. This session will be held in Dari with English translation.

Wong says she is particularly looking forward to a session on difficult conversations and how to have them. The session, hosted by writer Benjamin Law, includes journalist Jane Hutcheon, funeral director Jackie Bailey, and two-time world champion debater Bo Seo.

InReview critic Katherine Tamiko Arguile will be central to the kick-off event, Lunch on the Riverbank. Audiences can enjoy home-style Japanese cooking while hearing about Arguile’s connection to the food explored in her book Meshi.

The opening night gala – Words That Showed Me the Way – will see eight creatives, including poet and performer Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa, comedian and writer Sami Shah and Indonesian-born Singaporean writer and translator Clarissa Goenawan, explore words that “lead and influence us”.

Wong will moderate the closing night debate – about whether all Australian children should learn Mandarin at school – featuring last year’s defending champions,  Marc Fennell, Anchuli Felicia King and Benjamin Law, facing off against Osman Faruqi, Sami Shah and Beverley Wang.

It’s a question that is particularly relevant at the moment, but one that wouldn’t have been controversial a few years ago.

“I’m really looking forward to that one,” Wong says. “It’s an interesting thing to be debating now, given Australia’s relationship with China and the rise of India. I think (the topic) will say a lot about our relationship with China at the moment and suggests there are other players in the region we should be mindful of.”

In Other Words will be held from November 4 to November 6 over three stages around the Adelaide Festival Centre during the closing weekend of OzAsia Festival.

Make a comment View comment guidelines

Support local arts journalism

Your support will help us continue the important work of InReview in publishing free professional journalism that celebrates, interrogates and amplifies arts and culture in South Australia.

Donate Here

. You are free to republish the text and graphics contained in this article online and in print, on the condition that you follow our republishing guidelines.

You must attribute the author and note prominently that the article was originally published by InReview.  You must also inlude a link to InReview. Please note that images are not generally included in this creative commons licence as in most cases we are not the copyright owner. However, if the image has an InReview photographer credit or is marked as “supplied”, you are free to republish it with the appropriate credits.

We recommend you set the canonical link of this content to to insure that your SEO is not penalised.

Copied to Clipboard