Australian Embassy

2019 Australian Writers Week


Authors announced for 2019 Australian Writers Week 

Leading and emerging Australian authors, including Graeme Simsion, Julie Koh, Morris Gleitzman and Richard Fidler, will headline the 12th annual Australian Writers Week from 20-27 March.

Celebrating Australian literary voices, the initiative will feature events at the Bookworm and Shanghai International Literary Festivals, and bookshops, libraries and universities across nine cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Foshan, Xi’an, Hong Kong and Taipei.

Australia’s Ambassador to China, HE Ms Jan Adams AO PSM, said the flagship initiative has raised the profile of Australian authors in China, and provides the Chinese public a valuable opportunity to engage with Australian writers.

“This year’s Australian Writers Week will feature high calibre authors who personify the diversity of Australian literature today,” said Ambassador Adams. “The sharing of Australian stories will no doubt give more Chinese audiences further perspective on contemporary Australia, and likewise, give our guest authors a chance to better understand contemporary Chinese literature and publishing.”

Part of the Australia Writes year-round platform that brings diverse and contemporary Australian literary voices to China, this year’s Australian Writers Week will again feature Australian authors in conversation with leading Chinese writers.

Graeme Simsion is the best-selling author of the critically acclaimed 2013 novel The Rosie Project, as well as The Rosie Effect and The Best of Adam Sharp. The Rosie Project has sold more than 3.5 million copies in more than 40 countries and was the only novel on Bill Gates’ list of ‘six books I’d recommend’ in 2014. Graeme’s newest novel, The Rosie Result, recently debuted at No. 1 in fiction novels in Australia.

Julie Koh is an author of Chinese-Malaysian descent with two short-story collections: Capital Misfits and Portable Curiosities. The latter was shortlisted for a number of awards. In 2017, Julie was named a 2017 Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelist. She was also a judge for the 2018 Stella Prize, Australia’s top literary honour for women.

Morris Gleitzman is a bestselling children’s author and the current Australian Children’s Laureate. He has gained fame for his unique and accessible writing style, often focusing on emotional or difficult topics in humorous and unexpected ways. His titles include Two Weeks with the Queen, Grace and Doubting Thomas, which have been published in more than 20 countries.

Richard Fidler is the author of two best-selling non-fiction books: Ghost Empire and Saga Land. He is also best known as the presenter of Conversations on ABC Radio, an in-depth, hour-long interview program and Australia’s most popular podcast, amassing nearly four million downloads a month.

Australian books are fast becoming fixtures in bookstores and libraries across the world, including in China. Romantic and crime fiction, health and wellbeing, nonfiction and picture books are proving particularly popular with Chinese audiences.

The 2019 Australian Writers Week in China is presented by the Australian Embassy in Beijing, Consulates-General in Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Hong Kong and the Australian Office in Taipei. It is supported by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.






Tuesday 19 March 

Travel and History: A Millennium of Byzantine History
Guests: Richard Fidler, Zhang Zhiqiang (Nankai University, Expert on the history of Byzantium)
Moderator: Guo Jingjing (CEO of Yeeyan)
Tuesday, 19 March, 19:00 - 21:00
One Way Street, Aiqinhai Store
Free, registration essential 
Language: En | Ch
Is it better to travel a thousand miles, or read a thousand books? What is the connection between travel and history, and how can we encourage young readers to take an interest in historical education? What can we learn from the history of the Byzantine Empire, leading into the establishment of modern-day Istanbul? In Ghost Empire, Richard Fidler tells us a tangled tale of history, memory, and modernity; tonight, he explains his inspiration for the book, and tells the tale of the journey with his son that inspired it.

Thursday 21 March 

Stranger Lands
Guests: Richard Fidler, Stephen McDonell (BBC Correspondent)
Thursday, 21 March, 13:00-14:30
The Bookworm, Building 4, Sanlitun South Rd, Chaoyang District
60 RMB entry (includes a drink);Bookings essential
Language: En
From a thousand years of imperial drama in Constantinople, to the weirdly intimate sagas of Iceland’s founding families, Richard Fidler’s books evince a deep fascination with recreating the epic past. But he’s also host of The Conversation, Australia’s most-listened-to podcast, in which he shares the lives of individuals in contemporary society. Today he is joined by Stephen McDonell, who over the past dozen years been China correspondent for the ABC and the BBC, as they discuss the storyteller’s role when writing about other times, other places, and other peoples.

Friday 22 March

Romantic Fiction and Algorithms of Love
Guests: Graeme Simsion, Pickle Fairy, Liu Jianing (Douban Writer), Wen Junli (Douban Writer), Deng Anqing (Douban Writer)
Moderator: Wen Junli (Douban Writer)
Friday, 22 March, 19:00-21:00
One Way Street, Joy City Store
Free, registration essential 
Language: En | Ch
These days, young people in China and Australia may face similar challenges in finding "the one", but may have their own tricks for resolving that challenge. In The Rosie Project, 39-year-old professor Don Tillman turns finding a mate into a science experiment. In Pickle Fairy's Matchmaking in the Zoo, the 29-year-old Wu Huan slogs through a series of arranged meetings, but finds her mate in a wholly unexpected manner. In Wen Junli's fiction, meanwhile, a man going through a mid-life crisis starts dating a younger woman. Deng Anqing writes of rural youth in the cities, hoping for nothing more than a bit of solace in a relationship.
These writers evince a wide variety of approaches to love and its representation in fiction. Can love be planned, or must it be left to fate? These formulas and expectations that people have for love -- are they a help to us, or a hindrance? And what can we learn from "romance fiction" in our own pursuit of happiness?

Alchemical Imagination
Guests: Julie Koh, Li Jingrui (Writer, Author of Another World of Yesterday)
Moderator: Alice Liu Xin (Translator of The Letters of Shen Congwen, Host of NüVoices podcast) 
Friday, 22 March, 20:00-21:00
The Bookworm, Building 4, Sanlitun South Rd, Chaoyang District
60 RMB entry (includes a drink); Bookings essential
Language: En
Julie Koh’s dreamlike narratives swell with undercurrents of social critique. Li Jingrui, a former journalist, molds her stories around the edges of true stories and personal histories. Joining them in conversation today, Nüvoices’ Alice Xin Liu discusses the ratio of critique to imagination: how authors use narrative and voice to imbue social commentary with authorial creativity, and transform the public into something personal.

Saturday 23 March

Graeme Simsion Reading -- A Tech Guy's Approach to Love
Guests: Graeme Simsion, Zheng Ling (Chinese Translator for The Rosie Project)
Saturday, 23 March, 15:00-16:30
Yan Ji You Book Store, Wangfujing Zhonghuan Store
Free, registration essential 
Language: En | Ch
The "tech guy" is a special personality type: often highly intelligent, and logical, but sometimes lacking in charm and likability. Perhaps a high IQ is simply bound to be accompanied by a low EQ? Today's guests will be discussing the image of the "tech guy": his characteristic oddities, his chances of finding romance, and what can be done to get him out of his rut.

The Child’s Eye: Morris Gleitzman in Conversation with Zhou Rui
Guests: Morris Gleitzman, Zhou Rui (Children’s Literature Writer, Winner of France’s Annecy Educational Animation Prize)
Moderator: San Chuanling
Saturday, 23 March, 14:00 – 16:00 
Free, registration essential 
Language: En | Ch
Writing from the child’s point of view is a fertile fictional approach: the most complex geopolitical situations can be drawn in the simplest of lines; while the most straightforward personal relations are lent a complexity and nuance that rival the great dramas of the stage. Today’s guests discuss their experiences seeing from a child’s eye, and the ways in which this vantage point has afforded them unique approaches to storytelling. 

Sunday 24 March 

The Pleasure of the Unknown
Guests: Julie Koh, Zhu Yue (Author of Chaos of Fiction)
Moderator: Wu Qi
Sunday, 24 March,15:00-17:00
One Way Street, Joy City Store
Free, registration essential 
Language: En | Ch
Julie Koh and Zhu Yue ride the edges of realism in their fiction: stepping back from the day-to-day, they employ the surreal or near-real as a way of re-assessing our relationships with ourselves and society. In today’s event they discuss their own feelings about surrealism: is there pleasure in leaving the known world behind? Or does the anxiety of life pervade everything, even fiction?



Friday 22 March 

Ghost Empire: A Journey into Medieval Constantinople
Guests: Richard Fidler
Moderator: Paul French
Friday 22 March, 12:00 – 14:00 
M on the Bund, 7/F, 20 Guangdong Rd 
Adult – 100 RMB, Student – 50 RMB; Bookings essential
Language: En 
Re-visit and re-imagine Constantinople, the forgotten capital of the ancient world. Richard will be interviewed by local favourite Paul French.

Saturday 23 March

From Sagas to Empires – Travel & Writing with Sun Wei and Richard Fidler 
Guests: Richard Fidler
Moderator: Sun Wei
Saturday 23 March, 14:00 – 16:00
Writers Bookstore, 677 Julu Road
Free; Bookings essential (via 上海作家书店 WeChat)
Language: En | Ch
Join best-selling local writer Sun Wei as she speaks with Richard Fidler, critically acclaimed author of “Ghost Empire: A Journey to the Legendary Constantinople” and “Saga Lands: The Island of Stories at the Edge of the World”. Sun and Richard will talk about Richard’s adventures from Iceland to Istanbul, and Richard will share insights into the anecdotes from his travels that have inspired his work.  

The Art of the Interview | A Conversation between Mike Smith and Richard Fidler 
Guests: Richard Fidler
Moderator: Mike Smith (Australian Financial Review Correspondent) 
Saturday 23 March, 17:00 – 18:30 
The Wooden Box, 9 Qinghai Road 
Free; Bookings essential
Language: En 
Join the Australian Financial Review’s China Correspondent Mike Smith as he talks with preeminent interviewer Richard Fidler. Richard is the host of the ABC’s ‘Conversations’, Australia’s most popular podcast with nearly four million downloads a month. Mike and Richard will discuss all of the work that goes in to making great interviews happen, and about how to excel as an interviewer today. Richard will also share anecdotes from his career about the interviews and interviewees that have affected him the most.


Sunday 24 March

Film, Fiction, and the Times -- A Conversation with Graeme Simsion
Guests: Graeme Simsion, Chen Peng (Author, head of the Dayi Literature Academy), Zhang Qingguo (Author, Chairman of the Kunming Writers Association)
Moderator: Da Yi School of Literature, Zhai Kangyu
Sunday, 24 March, 15:00-17:00
Kunming Yan Ji You Bookstore (1903 branch)
Free, registration essential 
Language: En | Ch
As time goes on the ties between film and fiction seem to grow ever tighter, to the point where we may encounter the film of a book before we read the book itself, and readers may find that the sensual directness of cinema brings them more deeply into the story than the written word. Is it necessary for authors to adapt to these changing tastes? To what extent is fiction being altered by cinematic expectations? And for authors whose works are adapted to film, how does this transformation change their relationship to their own creation? Discussing these topics and more, Graeme Simsion is joined by Yunnan writers Chen Peng and Zhang Qingguo, as they explore together the changing face of literary creativity.


Monday 25 March 

The Pursuit of the Perfect Mate in Australia and China -- Graeme Simsion in Conversation with He Bin
Guests: Graeme Simsion, He Bin (Author of Chongqing Literature Academy, Senior Journalist)
Monday, 25 March,19:00-20:30
Sisyphe Bookstore
Free, registration essential 
Language: En | Ch
What is it about Graeme Simsion's novel The Rosie Project that has struck such a chord with readers around the world, leading to two sequels, countless translations, kudos from Bill Gates, and a film adaptation? Is the search for a mate that finds universal appeal? Or the apparent hopelessness of the protagonist? Perhaps there is something comforting in the thought that even someone so hapless as Don Tillman can find love. Today Graeme is joined by Chongqing author He Bin to talk about the universal aspects of the hunt for love, as well as the particular differences of Australian and Chinese cultural expectations regarding the pursuit of true love.


Monday 25 March 

Writing for Human Hearts
Guests: Julie Koh, Wang Weilian (Author of The Sound of Salt Forming), Guo Shuang (Winner of BenQ Film Fiction Award)
Moderator: Mr Chris Halford
Monday, 25 March, 19:00-20:30
Siyue Bookstore
Free, registration essential 
Language: En | Ch
The Writing for the Human Heart salon has been held annually since 2017, exploring the ways in which literature touches on human emotion despite distances of time, place and culture -- from the point of view of essayists, novelists, poets, translators and critics. Today Australian author Julie Koh is in conversation with local author Wan Weilian and Guo Shuang, discussing emotional commonalities between a wide range of literature. See you there!