Melbourne Writers Festival explores Africa

With over 350 events to choose from, audiences might be a little overwhelmed by the selection at this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival (MWF). We catch up with MWF Director Steve Grimwade to find out which event he is most looking forward to and why.

MWF Director Steve Grimwade

MWF Festival Director Steve Grimwade












Africa is often seen as a continent of crisis: wars, famine, and corruption. In The Other Africa, four expat writers join host Arnold Zable to discuss literature’s vital role in challenging this view. In what promises to be an unforgettable event, each writer has a powerful story to bring to the discussion.

Majok Tulba is the author of Beneath the Darkening Sky, a fictional account of the experience of child soldiers in Sudan. It’s a vivid and raw portrait of this horror yet Tulba manages to inject some beauty in his novel.

Sefi Atta

Sefi Atta (‘News From Home’, ‘A Bit of Difference’)

Sefi Atta is a Nigerian author now living in America. News From Home is a collection of stories inspired by real-life newspaper headlines and narrated by a range of Nigerian voices. Like all of Atta’s work, it is a powerful book that offers insights into a world rarely seen or understood by Western audiences. Atta will be a guest on ABC TV’s Q&A program and will also launch her third novel, A Bit of Difference, at the MWF. A Bit of Difference looks at contemporary African life through the eyes of a returned expatriate called Deola.

Uzodinma Iweala

Uzodinma Iweala (‘Beasts of No Nation’, ‘Our Kind of People’)

Uzodinma Iweala’s first novel, Beasts of No Nation, has been described by author Amitav Ghosh as “a work of visceral urgency and power”. Iweala’s second book, Our Kind of People, describes his travels back to Nigeria and his conversations with the communities affected by AIDS. Iweala will also be discussing his recent book in more depth on Saturday 25 August at the event Humanising the Virus.

Kwame Anthony Appiah’s most recent book, The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen, was one of the New York Times Book Review‘s 100 notable books of 2010. Appiah is one of our keynote speakers in our Big Ideas series, and he’ll be delivering the Alan Missen Oration: Literature and Global Citizenship.

While these authors will be taking part in more than one event across the festival, The Other Africa is a great opportunity to have all four together to share both their personal stories and their ideas on the grand narratives that stem from this great continent.

Given the strong focus on community involvement that emanates from these stories, the event chairperson Arnold Zable has invited members of Melbourne’s different African communities to be part of the audience to further add to our understanding of their own experience of Africa, making this a truly insightful and unique MWF event.

Steve Grimwade, Melbourne Writers Festival Director


We have a double pass to giveaway to The Other Africa which takes place on Fri 24 Aug 2012 at 2.30 pm. To win comment below and tell us which Melbourne Writers Festival event you are most looking forward to. Winner drawn at 5pm, Thu 23 Aug.

The Melbourne Writers Festival runs from Thursday 23 August – Sunday 2 September 2012. For more information see the ACMI website.

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