Sydney Writers’ Festival 2019 & The Books That Take Us On Unforgettable Journeys

ARA is the Principal Partner of Sydney Writers’ Festival and we believe that the best stories are the ones that take you on an unforgettable journey. This week, we reflect on the importance of reading and supporting one of the city’s most exciting events. We are also pleased to announce the winners of this year’s ARA Book Competition.

Video: ARA’s Executive Chair and Managing Director, Edward Federman, shares his thoughts on the importance of reading and why ARA is proud to support Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Every year, hundreds of authors from Australia and abroad gather in Sydney for a week-long exploration of ideas and writing. For this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival (SWF) program, from April 29 to May 5 readers heard from some of the world’s most exciting authors, journalists and public figures as they grappled with this year’s theme – ‘Lie To Me’ – and the personal, political and literary forces that have shaped their writing.

Book-lovers gathered at the Festival’s hub at Carriageworks for this year’s opening address, which was delivered by esteemed guests Meg Wolitzer, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah and Max Porter – each of whom delivered highly engaging, humorous and insightful speeches on the common truths to be found in fiction, and the threat of falsehoods in an increasingly ‘post-fact’ world. 

ARA proudly sponsored a number of author talks and panel discussions throughout the week, including talks with Rebecca Makkai, Aaron Blabey, George Saunders, Meg Wolitzer and Max Porter. We also supported ‘Truth 2: Lies 1: Crabb and Sales On Lying About Books‘, a highly entertaining experiment in truth-telling which featured Leigh Sales, Annabel Crabb, Michael Williams and Benjamin Law trying to convince one another of having read books that they had never so much as opened.

It was the second consecutive year that ARA supported Sydney Writers’ Festival as Principal Partner, following two years as Major Sponsor of the festival and ongoing support for the festival’s own ‘Russ the Story Bus’ initiative since 2016. For Edward Federman, ARA’s Executive Chair and Managing Director, reading books is both an enjoyable past-time and a passion worth spreading: “The whole world needs to read, and think, and learn”, he says, “That’s what the festival encourages”.

ARA’s involvement in the festival is also an important part of our commitment to supporting the arts sector: “Giving back to the community in which you work is an essential part of a for-profit organisation like ours. I do believe we are making an important difference”, Ed continues, “I’m very proud to be associated with the Sydney Writers’ Festival. It is such an important event”.

The Bookshop at Sydney Writers’ Festival, Carriageworks

Announcing the Winners of our ARA Book Competition

ARA is pleased to announce the winners of our book competition. We believe that the best stories are the ones that take you on an unforgettable journey. Readers were given the opportunity to win 1 of 5 ARA book bags and a $250 Gleebooks voucher by telling us about the journey that one of the books from the SWF program took them on. We are pleased to share their responses with you below. 

Lincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders

“’Lincoln In The Bardo lead me into the valley of death and far beyond the grave, in a fabulous, funny and sad verse novel that examines grief, the meaning of our lives and the tangled relationships we encounter before we die.” – Lou, Competition winner

The Lebs by Michael Mohammed Ahmad

“Reading ‘The Lebs reassured me of the identity crisis we all experience, as we journey through our teenage years. As I travelled through this book, I was encouraged to embrace my youth and the crazy journey I went on. We all get there in the end. Love and acceptance of self is what matters. Thank you to the author for his honest heart beating within this narrative. The inner journey is the most important one of all.” – Lara, Competition winner

World Was Whole by Fiona Wright

“As a literature student, my psychologist thought I’d like to read Fiona Wright’s essays as part of my therapy. Her work has taken me on a journey of self-healing, and acceptance of chronic illness. Fiona goes to my local cafe most mornings… I’ll be brave and say hello one day” – Maya, Competition winner

Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales

“’Any Ordinary Day’ helped me clarify so many ideas about managing my life and supporting others. Reading of such a variety of responses to deeply traumatic events in people’s lives helped put my medical problems into perspective and gave me ways to support a dear friend dealing with several recent tragic happenings” – Margaret, Competition winner

Dopesick by Beth Macy

“Eight years ago I contracted septicaemia and barely survived. I was prescribed OxyContin, a relatively new painkiller which Is now known as dangerously addictive. Beth Macy’s book took me into the heart of the US Midwest, where overprescribing of this drug has led to the addiction and death of thousands” – Mary, Competition winner

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