Focus on fathers at festival

The theme of family will be one of the program highlights at this year’s Byron Bay Writers Festival.

As the festival turns its gaze to the role of the father, festival director Jeni Caffin said fathers were often a remote, conflicted figure at the narrative core, struggling for close relationship, craving respect and love.

“On Sunday, August 8, four writers will engage with the audience with the poignancy of fatherhood in very different ways,” she said.

“In indigenous writer Larissa Behrendt’s novel, Legacy, the central character’s life in Sydney is defined by her complex relationship with her father Tony, an Aboriginal rights activist confronting his own truths as his secret double life implodes.

“The outcome hangs on whether Simone can accept her father for the man he is and forgive him for the man he’s not.”

Kim Cheng Boey is a Singaporean writer of essay and poetry.

‘Between Stations’ is a memory from the poet’s childhood, in which a father is taking a walk, or a smoke, with his son.

When David Carlin was six months old, his father Brian suicided.

 It was the 1960s in Western Australia and suicide was regarded as a sin.

As David sought to uncover the facts, among the happy marriage and brilliant career, he discovered an undertow of electric-shock therapy, insulin comas and whispered wartime events.

Damien Leith first came to notice as winner of Australian Idol in 2006.

‘Remember June’ is a shattering novel about fathers and sons and the power of memory.

Ms Caffin said the four writers would be involved in a discussion chaired by Alan Close.

“Alan writes transparently about his own relationship with his father and has now just become one for the first time,” she said.

The festival will be held at the former Byron Bay Beach Resort from August 6 to 8.

Tickets are on sale at or Jetset Byron Bay, phone 66856262.

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