THE Byron Bay Writers Festival continues its tradition of attracting some of the biggest names in the literary world with the announcement last week that controversial Australian-born, UK-based journalist, author, filmmaker and social commentator John Pilger will be this year’s keynote speaker.
As well as giving the keynote address, Pilger will participate in a panel discussion and conduct a question-and-answer session after the screening of his latest film, The War You Don’t See at Dendy Byron Bay Cinema on Sunday, August 7.
Born in Bondi, Pilger left Australia for London in the early 1960s.
After spending some time as a freelance journalist, he worked for Reuters News Agency before joining the London Daily Mirror where he became the chief foreign correspondent.
His work in Vietnam, Cambodia, Egypt, India, Bangladesh, East Timor and the Middle East has distinguished him as one of the great war correspondents of our time.
Pilger won the Sydney Peace Prize in 2009.
Festival director Candida Baker said she was “thrilled” Pilger had accepted the invitation to attend the festival which will be held at North Beach (formerly Byron Bay Beach Resort) from August 5 to 7.
Pilger joins an inspiring line-up of Byron Shire writers as well as the biggest number of international guests ever.
Local authors Marele Day, Jesse Blackadder, Kate Veitch, Andrew Crockett, Peter Duke, Stephanie Dale and Taylor Miller will add some local feel and passion to the festival.
Ms Baker believes the breadth and depth of the program truly offers something for everyone.
“With more than 170 writers confirmed, discussing diverse topics including cooking, history, politics, social networking, music, surfing, travel, comedy, crime, fantasy, memoir, sport, poetry, the environment and philanthropy, the festival’s 15th birthday bash will be one to remember,” she said.
Audiences can choose between James Redfield discussing his international phenomenon The Celestine Prophecies, MJ Hyland exploring her powerful novel This is How, Louis de Bernières in conversation about the broad reach of his books and John Pilger’s keynote address.
Ms Baker said visitors were going to have a tough time deciding which sessions to attend.
“I am also confident that festival-goers will enjoy meeting our great local writers as much as the international stars,” she said.
“I believe this is the biggest array of locals in the festival’s history and I am proud to showcase so much of our wonderful Byron talent.”
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