Inspired by the techniques of writers from storytelling cultures across the world, this masterclass with prize-winning author Roanna Gonsalves will look at what makes well-known short stories successful and show you how to adopt similar techniques in your own writing by focusing on language and the representation of power on the page.




Meet Hannah Kent, author of the hugely successful book Burial Rites, for an in-depth understanding of her books and writing process followed by a Q&A to have all your questions answered.

Don’t forget to bring your copy of her book for signing!



Ideal for years 9-11

The social and political constructs of empires linger long after they are gone. The British Raj had an enormous impact on the modern world. Bestselling writer, politician and former diplomat Shashi Tharoor, author of Inglorious Empire, examines the colonial project in its larger scope and the remnant of the Empire over which ‘the sun never set’. Celebrated historian and Festival co-director William Dalrymple is the author of The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company. In conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy, they speaks of the ghosts of empire and the legacy of conquests.

For most of his life Robert Dessaix has explored passions and interests such as travel, religion and the good life in Western settings ranging from Italy, France, Russia, Greece and Germany. His imagination is now fired more by India and Indonesia, the setting of his current book in progress on ageing well. In conversation with Susan Wyndham, he discusses why

Iconic Malayalam writer Paul Zacharia presents his first English novel, A Secret History of Compassion. Zacharia’s body of literary works includes short stories, novellas, travelogues, screenplays, essays, columns and children’s books. His latest novel examines his relationship with the Left, the erosion of ideology and the vocabulary of social justice. In conversation with writer and journalist Tony Joseph, he speaks of bilinguality, the pursuit of pure storytelling and the method behind his literary madness.

A session that travels the enormous mental and geographical distances that characterise the immigrant life. In Melanie Cheng’s Room for a Stranger, a student is sent from Hong Kong at great expense to Australia to get an education. In Huo Yan’s Dry Milk, a Beijing immigrant has called New Zealand home for three decades. Both men find the Antipodes to be alien places, and it is through their eyes that we encounter lonely and unsettling lives. In conversation with author, editor and academic Rebekah Clarkson.

Many of our greatest stories rely on the metaphor of arduous journeys. For Wu Ming-Yi and his novel The Stolen Bicycle, the journey is one that sees a son search for his father’s history. In Paulo Lemos Horta’s Aladdin: A New Translation, a rebellious boy goes in search of riches. Matthew Hooton has written Typhoon Kingdom a tale of two interconnected epic journeys set 300-hundred years apart in Korea. In a session of readings and conversations, they discuss their books and backstories with best selling author Victoria Purman.

What does it mean to be an outsider even in your own land? With her new novel The Old Lie, Claire G. Coleman takes us into a war in the future to illuminate the past. In Omar Musa’s play Since Ali Died, the poet explores his Malaysian heritage and the realities of growing up a brown-skinned Muslim boy in a predominantly caucasian society. Cultural commentator Mridula Nath Chakraborty considers the sub-continental diaspora cultures that now call Australia home. In conversation with Laura Kroetsch they share their experiences and insights.

A Paiwan tribal leader and a forest hunter, Ahronglong Sakinu is the author of the novel, The Sage Hunter, an account of an Indigenous Eastern Taiwan tribe’s attempts to protect an ancient burial ground. David Pollock is a second-generation pastoralist whose memoir The Wooleen Way, tells the story of his efforts to restore degraded leasehold land in county Western Australia. In conversation with Tania Meyer, they share their stories about their love for the land and the battles to save it.

The struggle for women to assume and retain power in patriarchal societies has always been fraught with tension. A session with prominent fiction writers from different cultures, that draws on folklore, myth and the fantastical. Hannah Kent’s The Good People is a novel that draws on the rural folklore of 19th century Ireland. Intan Paramaditha’s Apple and Knife draws on fairy tales, myths and horror stories in an effort to explore women’s power. In conversation with Laura Kroetsch they have an insightful interrogation on the power of the feminine.

A sense of belonging is an essential component to the notion of identity. Mumbai-born Roanna Gonsalves moved to Australia as an international student. American-born writer and scholar Shameem Black focuses on cosmopolitan encounters, Asian diasporas and the ethics of representation. In conversation with writer, translator and academic Mridula Nath Chakraborty, they read from their work and discuss the roles of memory and community as well as the multiplicities of identity in their writings.

Passionate historian Billy Griffiths interweaves the history of Australian archaeology with the struggle for recognition and rights of Aboriginal people. In his acclaimed book Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia, he goes beyond the few centuries of written Australian historical records to dig deeper into the continents past through its material remains. In conversation with Jared Thomas, he discusses how knowing the past is crucial to understanding the present.

The internationally acclaimed and much beloved writer David Malouf has been awarded the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement, and many other such prizes. In a session of readings and conversation, he speaks of his enormous body of work, including poetry, prose and fiction. His recent volume of poetry An Open Book contains meditations on mortality and memory while his novels cover an enormous span of landscape and human experience. In conversation with Nicholas Jose, he shares insights into his writing, the challenges of the writing life and perspectives on the writers who have moved and inspired him.

Over the past two decades, India has grown at an unprecedented rate. While 'King of the Good Times' Vijay Mallya languishes in exile, other major `Bollygarchs' prosper at home despite a series of scandals. Issuing jewel-encrusted invitations to their children's weddings, these tycoons exert huge power in both business and politics. But India's explosive economic rise has driven inequality to new extremes. Millions remain trapped in slums and corruption is endemic. Reformers fight to wrest the nation from these dark forces, leaving its fate poised between that of a prosperous democratic giant and a saffron-tinged version of Russia. Which will it become? James Crabtree discusses this and more in a conversation with author and Festival co-director William Dalrymple.

Artist Damien Shen draws on his Aboriginal Ngarrindjeri and Chinese ancestry to create work that carries intense personal meaning and communicates fresh ways of viewing Australian identity. His artistic practice is embedded in conjoined histories, revisiting the people, places and stories that shape the world he occupies. Dominic Guerrera is of Ngarrindjeri, Kaurna and Italian ancestry. He is a writer and poet who has also worked extensively on Aboriginal healthcare. In conversation with Rebecca Wessels they discuss the crucial ways in which their work acts as a reservoir and representation of complex histories and identities.

Recent advances in genetic science have made it possible for us to explore and understand the roots of our DNA. Tony Joseph, author of the bestseller Early Indians: The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Came From takes us on a journey of socio-cultural and genetic history across continents and cultures. By amalgamating ancient and modern DNA, studies demonstrate that genetic history across the world has seen multiple waves of ancient human migrations. In conversation with writer, translator and academic Mridula Nath Chakraborty, he discusses the stories of our ancestors.

The language of gender marks the shift from a binary understanding of identity to a more diverse spectrum in contemporary literature and popular culture. Poet and critic Lok Fung considers fairytales, cross-dressing and the idea of male in Hong Kong cinema. Writer Intan Paramaditha talks about sex, death, feminism and prejudice. Arab-Australian and queer poet Omar Sakr explores what it means to control the narrative. In conversation with Shameem Black, these writers share a session of readings and conversations.

As political certainties crumble and polarities assert themselves even as climate change wrecks havoc across the world, it is clear we live in troubled times. Peter Varghese is a former diplomat and current Chancellor of the University of Queensland. Shashi Tharoor is a former diplomat, politician and bestselling writer. Tony Birch is a renowned Australian writer, academic and environmental activist. Author and journalist James Crabtree has written The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age. Together they examine social realities and the context of the changes around us.

Australian naturalist and behavioural ecologist Darryl Jones, author of The Birds At My Table and the newly published Feeding the Birds at Your Table: A Guide for Australia, speaks of his encounters with avian friends, crows, magpies, pigeons and others, and their evolutionary behaviour as they adjust to rapid urbanisation. Crows, famed for their intelligence and for never forgetting a face, are observed to be changing their habits while human-magpie conflicts are on the rise. In conversation with Sonya Feldhoff, Jones discusses birds and habitats, migration and behavioural patterns, as well as the pros and cons of bird-feeding, and its impact on bird populations. A fascinating session full of deep insights on how humans understand and interact with nature and other species.

Weaving questions of politics, religion, love and identity through their words, poets make powerful storytellers and commentators. Melizarani T. Selva is a spoken-word artist, poetry educator and author of a collection of poems titled Taboo. Poet Omar Sakr is the author of The Lost Arabs and These Wild Houses. Arundhathi Subramaniam is a pioneer in Bhakti poetry, she has authored works such as When God is a Traveller and edited the anthology Eating God: A Book of Bhakti Poetry.With an introduction by writer and poet Dominic Guerrera, they come together in a session of powerful readings that highlights the correlation of word, voice and text.

Described as 'subversive feminist horror at its best', Intan Paramaditha’s Apple and Knife explores the dangers, fear and power conflicts that lurk when women carve out a space for themselves in today's world. Claire G. Coleman is the author of Terra Nullius which dwells on the scars of colonisation. Her latest is The Old Lie where she turns to speculative fiction and themes of intergalactic warfare. Together with Laura Kroetsch they discuss the concept of fear as it snakes through gender, sexuality, politics and culture.

A compelling session that explores journeys across Asia and Australia. Novelist and journalist Christopher Kremmer has written several works of narrative non-fiction based upon his long sojourn in India and other parts of Asia, including the classic travel memoir Carpet Wars: From Kabul To Baghdad. He speaks of the geographic connectivities that inform his work and the learnings he has accumulated from them. Ben Stubbs is the author of the recent The Crow Eaters: A Journey Through South Australia, a record of his voyage of discovery in his own backyard and home state. He follows the history of the camels and cameleers who travelled to the Outback from Afghanistan and India in the 1860s. In conversation with Sonya Feldhoff, Kremmer and Stubbs explore changing notions of travel and new ways to look at places far and near.

The Kohinoor is the world’s most famous diamond but its history is shrouded in mystery. Now, using previously untranslated Sanskrit, Persian and Urdu sources along with the high tech discoveries of modern gemologists, William Dalrymple blows away the legends to reveal a true history stranger, and more violent, than any fiction. “Kohinoor” reveals previously unknown moments in the history of a diamond that is now locked in the Tower of London where it continues to arouse passions as India, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Taliban all claim it as a national treasure and demand its return

Bollywood actor Manisha Koirala shares the highs and lows of her life, her career, relationships and her battle with cancer. In conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, she speaks of the pressures of her film career, the life choices she was compelled to make and how she redefined her priorities and regained a sense of balance and well-being. A no-holds-barred session about the emotional roller-coaster ride of Koirala’s life post-diagnosis, her learnings and inspirations and the process of healing.

Renowned Australian writer and academic Tony Birch has roots that reach back to Punjab, Afghanistan, Barbados and Indigenous heritage. In conversation with Karen Wyld, he speaks of literature, activism and the continuum of themes, ideas and obsessions that inhabit his novels and short stories. The session focuses on his richly layered new book The White Girl and the multiple repositories of memory within it, which so urgently evoke Australia’s dark and violent colonial past.

Two writers with hyphenated identities study the migrant experience and its impact on their work. Poet and journalist Melizarani T. Selva explores taboos, the Indian diaspora and women’s empowerment. In his performance My Home at the Intersection, Abhishek Thapar explores three generations of a family living in Punjab. In conversation with Shameem Black, they speak of the divergent worlds and dual identities of migrant narratives.

Of all the experiences we share, two universal events bookend our lives: we were all born and we all die. In her new book, A Better Death, oncologist and writer Ranjana Srivastava considers the question of death and how mortality must be accepted and embraced. In conversation with Sonya Feldhoff, she explains the importance of accepting the end in a dignified and peaceful manner.

An exploration of Chinese fiction across genres with four contemporary writers who talk about narratives that explore China today, including Hong Kong.
This session features novelist and critic Huo Yan, poet and cultural critic Lok Fung and policeman-turned-crime writer A Yi. In a conversation with writer Nicholas Jose, they discuss their journey and how it impacts their work.

An engaging session with writers, educators, artists and musicians that celebrates three different Indigenous communities. Ahronglong Sakinu is a writer and founder of a hunter school that educates young people about Paiwan culture and practice. Alena Murang started ART4 Studio / Kanid Studio in her native Borneo, an organisation that uses art to instill Indigenous values.DOBBY is a Filipino-Aboriginal rapper who teaches hip hop, drumming and Indigenous studies. In conversation with Jack Buckskin.

Travel writing is one of the most ancient forms of literature but is it losing its relevance in the age of globalisation, travel technology and space cruises? Journalist and acclaimed author Christopher Kremmer has written Carpet Wars: From Kabul to Baghdad and Inhaling The Mahatma, among others. Award-winning author Michelle de Kretser has written Questions of Travel and the prolific author Robert Dessaix has written books such as The Pleasures of Leisure. Together, they discuss the genre and read from their work with historian and Festival co-director William Dalrymple.

Acclaimed Taiwanese writer Wu Ming-Yi’s book The Stolen Bicycle expertly weaves an intricate storyline that often blends the lines between reality and fiction. Bringing together the history of Taiwan with the history of the bicycle, and that of his own family, he presents an integrated work of fiction. In conversation with interpreter Baiyi Sun and Matthew Hooton, he discusses the inspirations and insights behind his iconic writing.

Writer and translator Paulo Lemos Horta explores the cultural and literary history of the Arabian Nights and of the travellers, storytellers and translators who gave the world these unforgettable tales. Horta’s most recent book, Aladdin: A New Translation, is an elegant edition of one of the best-loved folktales of all time. He is also the author of the illuminating Marvellous Thieves: Secret Authors of the Arabian Nights. In conversation with producer of the Jaipur Literature Festival Sanjoy K. Roy, he speaks of the stories, along with the stories behind the stories and provides a fascinating glimpse of the great cultural reservoir of Arab, Persian and Indian narratives.

A timely discussion with historian Frank Dikötter on his recently published book How to be a Dictator: The Cult of Personality in the Twentieth Century. He discusses the ideological constructs and pathologies from the past as well as from modern dictators. In conversation with broadcaster Richard Fidler, he speaks of charismatic leaders and how their influence takes hold and sustains itself to create the cult of personality.

Versatile writer and poet Arundhathi Subramaniam weaves tales of culture and spirituality through her work. Subramaniam’s latest book of poems, Love Without A Story, circles the ideas of time, intimacy and the urgency of conversations. She has authored the acclaimed When God is A Traveller, Sadguru, More Than a Life, The Book of Buddha and co-authored Adiyogi: The Source of Yoga with Sadhguru. She has also edited Eating God: A Book of Bhakti Poetry. In conversation with Melizarani T. Selva, she takes us on a journey through her words, inspirations and faith.

A session that explores the nuances of writing crime, its stark realities and the enduring popularity of the genre. Former police officer turned fiction writer A Yi is one of China’s most celebrated and innovative writers. His first novel to appear in English, A Perfect Crime, is a psychological thriller featuring a teenage boy planning to murder his best friend. With author Victoria Purman, he speaks of his experiences, inspirations and craft.

In his most ambitious and riveting book to date, William Dalrymple tells the story of the East India Company. The Anarchy charts how one of the world’s most magnificent empires disintegrated and how it came to be replaced by a dangerously unregulated private company. The East India Company’s founding charter authorised it to 'wage war' and it had always used violence to gain its ends. But the creation of this new government marked the moment that the East India Company ceased to be a conventional international trading corporation dealing in silks and spices, and became something much more unusual: an aggressive colonial power in the guise of a multinational business, conquering first Bengal and finally, in 1803, the Mughal capital of Delhi itself.

It was in London, 1882 that the Sporting Times printed a mock obituary proclaiming the death of English cricket and announcing that ‘the body was cremated and the ashes taken to Australia’. A riveting session on this fiercest of sports rivalries, which brings alive the passion and frenzy of the game and the competing nationalisms that play out on the field. Former diplomat, politician and bestselling writer Shashi Tharoor and acclaimed novelist, editor and award-winning cricket writer Malcolm Knox speak of the spirit of the game and its history across continents.

A solo trek over 2700-kilometres through the Himalayas led author Jono Lineen to study the history and science behind walking and running. His book Perfect Motion investigates the health and therapeutic effect of this constant movement on the human mind. In conversation with David Sly, Lineen explains how walking one step at a time helps us strengthen our resilience and make sense of our life – and death.