Indian guests at Sydney Writers Festival



Young voices of India, Deepti Kapoor, Samanth Subramanian and Ira Trivedi


From 16th May, Monday to 22nd May, Sunday, Sydney Writers Festival, with an array of distinguished writers from all corners of the world merging down under, promises to give Sydneysiders a close encounter of the book kind.

Jemma Birrell, Artistic Director  of the festival says, “Early one morning, I happened upon an article by Ceridwen Dovey in The New Yorker, ”˜Can Reading Make You Happier?’ Ceridwen’s piece explored the ancient concept of bibliotherapy, and spoke about literature’s meditative and restorative effects in terms of mental health, improved relationships and the ability to empathise with others. I liked where this was going. Books are indeed places we can lose ourselves and at the same time find the answers to whatever we might be searching for, even if we don’t quite know what that is.

A good festival, like a good book, should bring real-life benefits ”“ joy, solace and a new understanding of the world.

Sydney Writers’ Festival is a week-long extravaganza of ideas and literature. In 2016 we have an exhilarating array of authors bringing their wisdom, knowledge and imaginative whimsy to Sydney.”

SWF is held at Walsh Bay at  venues at Pier 4/5, Pier 2/3 and the Roslyn Packer Theatre at Walsh Bay.  Events are also held at venues throughout the city, and in suburban Sydney and regional NSW. For more information on events visit :

Various events, chats, interviews, readings with international and local writers will be held in this intensive week with topics ranging from migration, writers in politics, love, sex, extremism, surveillance and many more. There is something called the ”˜Novel Cure’ where writer and a bibliotherapist, Susan Elderkin will recommend you a book to read by finding out what ails you in the Literary Healing Room.

This years’ guest writers from the Indian subcontinent include: Samanth Subramanian, Ira Trivedi and Deepti Kapoor.

Samanth Subramanian

Samanth Subramanian is the India correspondent for  The National  and the author of two books,  Following Fish: Travels around the Indian Coast  and  This Divided Island: Stories from the Sri Lankan War. He has written for, among other publications,  The New Yorker,  The New York Times,  The Guardian,  Granta,  Newsweek,  The Wall Street Journal, and  The Boston Globe.  Following Fish: Travels around the Indian Coast  won the 2010 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize and was shortlisted for the 2013 Andre Simon Prize. His most recent book of non fiction,  This Divided Island, won the Crossword Non Fiction Prize in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Non Fiction Prize the same year. He lives and works in New Delhi.

Ira Trivedi

Ira Trivedi is the best-selling author of four books, most recently  India in Love, a seminal work of nonfiction on India’s sexual revolution. Ira is a contributor to  Foreign Affairs,  Foreign Policy  and several others, where her work on gender and culture has won several awards. She has been called one of India’s most important youth voices, and she speaks regularly to media and forums in India and internationally.  When Ira is not writing she is teaching yoga. She is the founder of the NGO Namami Yoga and most recently she led the first international day of yoga celebrations at Rajpath, New Delhi, where 36,000 people including the Prime Minister did yoga, creating a world record.

Deepti Kapoor

Deepti Kapoor was born in Uttar Pradesh and grew up in various places across North India. Her first novel,  A Bad Character, was published globally by Penguin Random House, and in France by Seuil, where it was shortlisted for the Prix Médicis Étranger 2015. It was also shortlisted for several awards in India. Deepti writes for  Granta,  Conde Nast Traveller  and  The Guardian. She is working on her second novel, a multi-perspective narrative about an American yoga student disappearing in India.


Various event that are planned with these writers are:

Writers in Danger

Code: 29    |    Type:  Panel      |    Genres:  Biography & Memoir,  Politics & Current Affairs,  Fiction,  Asia

Writers and artists are especially vulnerable to censorship, harassment, imprisonment and even death,  because of what they do. They represent the liberating gift of the human imagination and give voice to thoughts, ideas, debate and critique, disseminated to a wide audience. They also tend to be the first to speak out and resist when free speech is threatened. Julian Burnside QC speaks to a panel of writers who are all too familiar with the fight for free expression, including Xu Zhiyuan, described by artist Ai Weiwei as ”˜the most important Chinese intellectual of his generation’, Indian authors Samanth Subramanian (This Divided Island) and Deepti Kapoor (A Bad Character), and North Korean dissident Yeonmi Park (In Order to Live). Introduced by ICORN ambassador Anna Funder.

Thursday 19 May 11:30 AM  –  12:30 PM
Pier 2/3 Club Stage, Pier 2/3, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay

$20/$15 Bookings  (02) 9250 1988,



India: Writers Talk Politics

Code: 60    |    Type:  Panel      |    Genres:  History,  Politics & Current Affairs,  Asia

Take a fresh look at some of the most pressing issues facing the world today in this thought-provoking series. Each session focuses on a different country with the writers who know its terrain intimately.

Deepti Kapoor has been described as the new voice of Indian writing for her acclaimed novel  A Bad Character. She joins journalist Samanth Subramanian, who was born in Tamil Nadu, and Ira Trivedi, one of India’s most influential youth voices on gender and culture, to explore poverty, sexual politics, corruption and violence in the subcontinent. Has the country gone awry and what will it take to overcome a national feeling of pessimism? Christopher Kremmer poses the big questions.

Thursday 19 May 3:00 PM  –  4:00 PM
Sydney Dance 1, Pier 4/5, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay
Free, no bookings


Sri Lanka: This Divided Island

Code: 93    |    Type:  Conversation      |    Genres:  Politics & Current Affairs,  History,  Travel,  Asia

This Divided Island  is a monument to the 26-year conflict that ravaged Sri Lanka, leaving nearly 100,000 dead and a country exhausted, disturbed, and still hot from the embers of war. Through travels and conversation with witnesses on all sides, prize-winning author Samanth Subramanian examines how people reconcile themselves to violence, and how nations bury their pasts by reshaping memory and rewriting history. An important, balanced and piercing book by one of India’s best new writers. Samanth speaks to The Wheeler Centre’s Director Michael Williams.

Friday 20 May 10:00 AM  –  11:00 AM
Sydney Dance 2, Pier 4/5, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay
Free, no bookings



Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed?: Love, Sex and Literature

Code: 191    |    Type:  Panel      |    Genres:  Romance,  Fiction

Three novelists expose their least wholesome thoughts about desire and love in literature. Do we now finally live in a world where conceptions of sexuality are fluid and open-minded, or are readers and writers still unconsciously restricted by social mores, prudery and taboos? Indian novelist Deepti Kapoor (A Bad Character) and Australian authors Toni Jordan and John Purcell unpack the tension between wearied gender stereotypes that insist on women’s full emotional investment and more modern portrayals of sex and power, with Kate Forsyth.

Saturday 21 May 1:30 PM  –  2:30 PM
Sydney Dance 2, Pier 4/5, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay
Free, no bookings


Walking Towards Ourselves: Indian Women Tell Their Stories

Code: 232    |    Type:  Panel      |    Genres:  Feminism,  Politics & Current Affairs

India is in the throes of a gender revolution. What does this mean for India’s women ”“ for those who are rejoicing in new freedoms and those who find themselves caught in a clash of values? In their writing and their day-to-day lives, Ira Trivedi (India in Love) and Deepti Kapoor (A Bad Character) navigate the frictions between urban sophistication, desire, sex and female autonomy with the social mores and cultural traditions that have governed the lives of Indian women for centuries. Both women bring a distinctly modern outlook to Indian literature. They are contributors to  Walking Towards Ourselves: Indian Women Tell Their Stories, an anthology exploring what it means to be a woman in India at a time of intense change. In conversation with the anthology’s editor, Catriona Mitchell.


$15 Bookings  (02) 9250 1988,



Why Women Should Rule the World

Code: 162    |    Type:  Panel      |    Genres:  Feminism,  Business & Economics,  Politics & Current Affairs


Fewer women than men named John run big companies, according to a 2015 report by Ernst & Young. Yet in a recent Washington blizzard, the only senators hardy enough to show up were the so-called ”˜weaker’ sex. George Megalogenis hosts a panel comprising feminist icon Gloria Steinem, Indian writer and activist Ira Trivedi and Australian journalist Laura Tingle for a frank and fearless discussion about the advantages of making room for more women at the top.

Supported by the City of Sydney.

Tickets for this event are still available as part of a  My Perfect Festival  package.

Saturday 21 May 10:00 AM  –  11:00 AM
Roslyn Packer Theatre, 22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay



Late Night Salon

Code: 225    |    Type:  Conversation      |    Genres:  Comedy,  Biography & Memoir,  Politics & Current Affairs

The Chaser’s Chris Taylor brings his inimitable, irreverent interview style to the Festival’s late night hub. His guests tonight are national treasure and the woman behind Australia’s favourite fictional netballer, Magda Szubanski, the only man who rocked the house and then rocked the House of Representatives, Peter Garrett, and Indian novelist and yoga instructor Ira Trivedi. The Late Night Salon is the place to catch the Festival’s most uninhibited, wine-fuelled chats with some of its most intriguing guests. And best of all, it’s completely free.

Saturday 21 May 9:30 PM  –  11:00 PM
Pier 2/3 The Hemingway Bar, Pier 2/3 – within Curiosity stage, Walsh Bay
Free, no bookings


Extremism: The Untold History

Code: 240    |    Type:  Panel      |    Genres:  Politics & Current Affairs,  History,  Asia

What makes some people turn from radical to fanatical? Can history uncover forces that shape extremist movements? Tamil author Samanth Subramanian (This Divided Island) shares his unique perspective on the Sri Lankan civil war. Emma Sky (The Unravelling) was on the ground for much of the ill-fated Iraq War and offers an insider’s take on the rise of ISIS, while Oxford historian Peter Frankopan (The Silk Roads) reveals astonishing examples of extremism through the ages. They join Anthony Billingsley.

Supported by UNSW Arts & Social Sciences.

Programmed in partnership with Cheltenham Literature Festival.

Sunday 22 May 11:30 AM  –  12:30 PM
Pier 2/3 Main Stage, Pier 2/3, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay

$20/$15 Bookings  (02) 9250 1988,



Short URL: