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Friday, 13 April 2007

The Sydney Writers' Festival 2007, with director Wendy Were ("former head of the Perth International Writers Festival"), is to showcase some serious talent.

The Australian reports Were saying that "the festival had propelled itself into the top five international writers' festivals and was edging into the top three".

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the festival "involves more than 200 Australian authors and 70 from overseas".

The Age demonstrates an entrenched parochialism by declining to mention the prestigious event. At all.

The SMH's literary editor Catherine Keenan says that Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the now-U.S.-based ex-Dutch-politician, ex-pseudo-refugee, all-round-controvert, Somali Islamic critic will "deliver the closing address". The Australian's Tracy Ong says she "will top the bill".

Good for her.

Other writers extpected to speak this year are Andrew O'Hagan, Richard Ford, Lionel Shriver, Andrei Makine, Rachel Seiffert, Eliot Weinberger, Andrew Bacevich, Daniel Mendelsohn, Antony Beevor, and William Dalrymple.

"Anchoring the festival's Chinese strand is the poet Bei Dao," writes Keenan. Bei Dao is "the pseudonym of Chinese poet Zhao Zhenkai," according to the Wikipedia. "The work of the Misty Poets and Bei Dao in particular were an inspiration to pro-democracy movements in China."

"Since 1987, Bei Dao has lived and taught in England, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, France, and the United States."

The week-long gabfest will have over 300 sessions. Full details will be published tomorrow in the SMH's Spectrum culture supplement.

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