#MeToo revelations and loud, angry men: the feminism flashpoint of Sydney writers’ festival

For anyone who thought the movement had lost momentum, the last few days have proved otherwise

Hours before the cornerstone Sydney writers’ festival panel about the #MeToo movement on Saturday night, the Pulitzer-prize winning author Junot Diaz – with events still booked in Sydney and in Melbourne – was on a plane out of Australia.

The day before, another festival guest, writer Zinzi Clemmons, had spoken from the audience during the Q&A of one of Diaz’s panels, questioning the timing of his recent New York Times essay and asking the writer to reckon with his own alleged history of harm.

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Through the looking glass: the Alice exhibition taking crowds down a rabbit hole

Designed by Anna Tregloan, the exhibition has creative and immersive rooms that house more than 300 objects

Matt and Wendy Crandall have been talking to me for 20 minutes before I notice it: almost everything they are wearing is Alice in Wonderland-themed.

Her dress is covered in tiny Alices. Pink flamingos preen and pose across his shirt. Her earrings read “eat me” and “drink me”, and her charm bracelet is adorned with Wonderland trinkets – a limited edition Stella McCartney range tied to Tim Burton’s 2010 adaptation.

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Miss Havisham a Sydneysider? Dickens’ Australian links get an airing

The International Dickens Fellowship Conference comes to town and Thomas Keneally will be among those to pay homage

Under the dirt in St Stephen’s Anglican churchyard in Newtown, a suburb in Sydney’s inner west, lies the remains of Eliza Emily Donnithorne: one of the most storied characters of the suburb’s colourful past.

According to some versions of the tragic tale, Donnithorne was 30 when the love of her life proposed. As she was a member of the city’s social elite, her wedding in 1856 was to be a gala attended by hundreds – but her fiance never showed up.

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Sarah Krasnostein wins $125,000 at Australia’s richest literary prize

Krasnostein wins two prizes at Victorian premier’s literary awards for The Trauma Cleaner, in year dominated by women and writers of colour

When Sandra Pankhurst first read the manuscript of her extraordinary life – life spent first as a son, husband and father, then as a sex worker, rape survivor, wife and trauma cleaner – she told the author Sarah Krasnostein she found the book “cathartic”.

“That was a huge relief for me to hear,” Krasnostein tells Guardian Australia. She had given Pankhurst the draft a week before it went to print. “I’m sure the experience of reading it was not easy; there were memories there that she had chosen for a long time not to share.”

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Gould’s Book Arcade: the political, literary legacy of Newtown’s dusty wonder

For three decades, the legendary bookshop has collected around 2m used books – but will soon close its doors

If you studied at a university in Sydney, chances are you’d have a memory of one of Bob Gould’s shops. My first encounter was when I was 18 and had just moved out of home into Newtown, with an empty used bookshelf I found on the side of the street.

I unpacked and walked straight to Gould’s Book Arcade on King Street: a legendary, cavernous warehouse-type space, crammed floor to ceiling, side to side, with what seemed to be every used book and dust mite in the world.

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‘Mine is not a hedonistic tale’: Jenny Valentish on trauma, addiction and the women left behind

For any woman who drinks or takes drugs, Woman of Substances makes for a frightening read – but an essential one
Jenny Valentish doesn’t like labels. But if there’s one word she will ascribe to her history with childhood trauma and drug abuse, it’s “archetypal”.
“My story is fairly representative of women who have severe problems,” she says when we meet at her Sydney hotel in May. “It ticks boxes actually: sexual abuse, sexual assault, promiscuity, self-medication. It’s got everything, really.” Continue reading...

More than the N-word: how a ‘tense’ Paul Beatty interview raises bigger questions | Steph Harmon

A controversial discussion at Sydney writers’ festival illustrates a broader truth: when it comes to conversations about race, Australia still has work to do Every writers’ festival seems to have a flashpoint of controversy, and in Sydney at the weekend it was all about race. On the one hand, the hour-long discussion between the Booker prize-winning African-American author Paul Beatty and the white Radio National host Michael Cathcart was the most open and engaging of Beatty’s appearances, as the author – a fairly tricky interview subject, who tends to answer difficult questions with more provocations – opened up on storytelling, history and race in in the US. Continue reading...

Photo-altering apps a ‘rabbit-hole’ for young girls, Teen Vogue editor says

Elaine Welteroth tells Sydney writers’ festival she once tried photoshopping herself, but the desire for adjustments was never-ending Teen Vogue editor Elaine Welteroth has called photo editing apps and Photoshop a “rabbit hole” for young people, which can be damaging to their self-esteem – “especially now when plastic surgery is somehow an option for a lot of young people”. Speaking with Slate’s editor-in-chief Julia Turner at the Sydney writers’ festival on Friday, she admitted to trying do-it-yourself photoshopping one time herself, downloading the Facetune app, which allows users to easily digitally alter their selfies and photographs: “I had to take it off my phone because I fixed something on my face ... and then I wanted to fix something on my nose, and then – you just get down this rabbit hole and you start hating yourself. And you’re like, ‘How did I get here? I felt really good like 10 ...

Photo-altering apps a ‘rabbit-hole’ for young girls, Teen Vogue editor says

Elaine Welteroth tells Sydney writers’ festival she once tried photoshopping herself, but the desire for adjustments was never-ending Teen Vogue editor Elaine Welteroth has called photo editing apps and Photoshop a “rabbit hole” for young people, which can be damaging to their self-esteem – “especially now when plastic surgery is somehow an option for a lot of young people”. Speaking with Slate’s editor-in-chief Julia Turner at the Sydney writers’ festival on Friday, she admitted to trying do-it-yourself photoshopping one time herself, downloading the Facetune app, which allows users to easily digitally alter their selfies and photographs: “I had to take it off my phone because I fixed something on my face ... and then I wanted to fix something on my nose, and then – you just get down this rabbit hole and you start hating yourself. And you’re like, ‘How did I get here? I felt really good like 10 ...

Stella prize 2016 announces shortlist of six books by Australian women

Maxine Beneba Clarke and Emily Maguire among authors shortlisted, alongside recently deceased authors Georgia Blain and Cory Taylor

Maxine Beneba Clarke, Emily Maguire and two recently deceased authors, Georgia Blain and Cory Taylor, are among six authors shortlisted for the 2016 Stella prize, celebrating Australian women writers.

The shortlisted books are Between a Wolf and a Dog by Georgia Blain; The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke; Poum and Alexandre by Catherine de Saint Phalle; An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire; The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose; and Dying: A Memoir by Cory Taylor.

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Stella prize 2017: ‘urgent national issues’ dominate longlist of Australian women writers

Racism, offshore detention and violence against women among themes explored in longlist which includes Julia Baird, Maxine Beneba Clarke and Julia Leigh Julia Baird, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Julia Leigh and recently deceased writers Georgia Blain and Cory Taylor are among 12 authors whose books have been longlisted in the 2017 Stella prize, celebrating Australian women writers. The list was whittled down from more than 180 entries by a panel of judges, including author and academic Brenda Walker, literary critic Delia Falconer, bookseller Diana Johnston, editor Sandra Phillips and writer Benjamin Law. Continue reading...

1984: West End’s hit adaptation set for Broadway, Australian cast announced

Described as ‘horribly relevant’ by its directors, the global tour of the acclaimed production follows a surge in sales for Orwell’s seminal novel As George Orwell’s seminal book 1984 enjoys a surge in sales following Donald Trump’s ascendency, the critically acclaimed West End adaptation is set to tour the globe – with Tom Conroy picked to play the lead role in Australia from May, and the production making its debut on Broadway in June. Published in 1949, the dystopic novel is set in a world of perpetual war and twisted truth, its citizens manipulated by the all-seeing Big Brother. Protagonist Winston Smith works at the euphemistically named Ministry of Truth, rewriting newspaper articles to support the party line – and starts keeping a diary in defiance of it. Continue reading...

Shirley Hazzard, internationally acclaimed Australian author, dies at 85

Novelist, who has died in New York, wrote The Transit of Venus and The Great Fire, and won the Miles Franklin prize and the National Book award Shirley Hazzard, the Australian-born author whose 1980 book The Transit of Venus brought her international acclaim, has died at the age of 85. According to a report in the New York Times, Hazzard’s death at her home in Manhattan followed a struggle with dementia. The news comes in a sad week for the Australian literary world, with the death of writer and broadcaster Anne Deveson on Monday, and her daughter, Georgia Blain, on Friday. Continue reading...

Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things wins $50,000 Stella prize

Wood tells Guardian Australia writing her feminist rage-filled novel was like an exorcism of society’s ‘poisonous, woman-despising, cultural malignancy’ Charlotte Wood said she “absolutely did not” expect the acclaim and accolades that have accompanied her fifth novel The Natural Way of Things, which was awarded the $50,000 Stella prize on Tuesday night. Related: Stella prize 2016 announces shortlist of six books by Australian women Continue reading...

Breaking borders: how to make the best bookshop in the world

The independent chain was awarded International Bookstore of the Year this week. According to Readings’ manager Mark Rubbo, it’s all about community

It was February 2011 when Borders Group collapsed, with the thundering crash of a retail giant. The Australian division was owned by the same parent company as Angus & Robertson, and both national chains went into voluntary administration. The local companies had a combined staff of 2,500. The book industry was shaken.

Related: Book Depository is coming to Australia – but there's nothing like a local bookshop

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Best-selling author Jessica Knoll reveals she was gang-raped at 15

Knoll’s novel Luckiest Girl Alive tells of a woman who was raped as a teenager. In Lena Dunham’s e-newsletter, the author reveals she shared a similar trauma

Jessica Knoll, the American author of the New York Times bestselling novel Luckiest Girl Alive, has published an online essay revealing that the rape suffered by the protagonist, TifAni FaNellis (Ani), was based on a gang-rape she survived when she was 15.

Related: Lena Dunham's newsletter is a victory for the letter-writing renaissance

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Best-selling author Jessica Knoll reveals she was gang-raped at 15

Knoll’s novel Luckiest Girl Alive tells of a woman who was raped as a teenager. In Lena Dunham’s e-newsletter, the author reveals she shared a similar trauma

Jessica Knoll, the American author of the New York Times bestselling novel Luckiest Girl Alive, has published an online essay revealing that the rape suffered by the protagonist, TifAni FaNellis (Ani), was based on a gang-rape she survived when she was 15.

Related: Lena Dunham's newsletter is a victory for the letter-writing renaissance

Continue reading...

Why ‘captain’s call’ is Australia’s word – well, phrase – of the year for 2015

Tony Abbott’s archaic cricketing term is now being used by irony-loving Australians in all sorts of contexts, Macquarie Dictionary editor Susan Butler says Susan Butler might be Australia’s most powerful word nerd, and this is her season. Butler has been editor of the Macquarie Dictionary of Australian English since its first edition in 1981 and each January assembles a small committee to designate their word of the year: an honour bestowed upon a word or phrase that made “the most valuable contribution” to Australian English the previous year. Continue reading...