POPULAR: Byron Writers Festival 2016 recorded the biggest crowds in 20 years of the event.
POPULAR: Byron Writers Festival 2016 recorded the biggest crowds in 20 years of the event. Evan Malcolm

Stars line up for writers festival

JOHN Safran, Deng Thiak Adut, Dava Sobel and Ben Mckelvey are some of the names confirmed in the first program announcement of the 2017 Byron Bay Writers Festival.

Early bird tickets are on sale now until 13 June or until sold out, with the full program announced 14 June.

Variety is the name of the game this year:

Deng Thiak Adut - Songs of a War Boy with Ben Mckelvey (November 2016)


Deng Thiak Adut.
Deng Thiak Adut. FSM

Defence lawyer, refugee advocate and 2017 NSW Australian of the Year, Deng Thiak Adut has gone from child soldier in South Sudan to owning a law firm with multiple offices across Sydney.

In Songs of a War Boy written with Ben Mckelvey Deng tells how his family were farmers in South Sudan when a brutal civil war altered his life forever.

At six years old, his mother was told she had to give him up to fight. At the age most Australian children are starting school, Deng was conscripted into the Sudan People's Liberation Army.

He began a harsh, relentless military training that saw this young boy trained to use an AK-47 and sent into battle.

He lost the right to be a child and the right to learn. Songs of a War Boy is an inspiring story of a man who has overcome deadly adversity to become a lawyer and committed worker for the disenfranchised.

Ben Mckelvey - Songs of a War Boy with Deng Adut (November 2016), The Commando (October 2017)


Author Ben Mckelvey.
Author Ben Mckelvey.

Ben Mckelvey is a freelance writer and editor from Sydney who has filed for Good Weekend, GQ, Voyeur, Rolling Stone, The Bulletin, Cosmo, Cleo and the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The West Australian newspapers.

His previous gigs have included editing Sport & Style and Juice magazines, and working for the Sydney Morning Herald as a Senior Feature Writer.

He has been embedded with the ADF in East Timor and Iraq, and has worked independently in Iran and Afghanistan.

The writer has also co-authored two books: Born to Fight with Mark Hunt and Songs of a War Boy with Deng Adut.

His third book, The Commando, is a biography of Cameron Baird VC, MG and will be available in October.

John Safran - Depends on What You Mean By Extremist (May 2017)


John Safran
John Safran Penguin Random House

John Safran is an award-winning TV and radio presenter, writer and documentary-maker of provocative and hilarious takes on race, the media, religion and other issues.

His new book, Depends What You Mean by Extremist, features an extraordinary cast of 'ordinary' Australians and is a startling, confronting portrait of contemporary Australia.

Expecting skinheads, John Safran rocked up to a far-right rally in Melbourne. What he found led him into the mad world of misfits who helped propel the second coming of Pauline Hanson and foreshadowed the era of Trump.

Dava Sobel - The Glass Universe: The Hidden History of the Women Who Took the Measure of the Stars (January 2017)


SCIENCE: American writer Dava Sobel.
SCIENCE: American writer Dava Sobel.

Dava Sobel is an award-winning former science reporter for the New York Times and writes frequently about science for several magazines, including Audubon, Discover, Life and Omni.

In The Glass Universe, Sobel uncovers the captivating, little-known true story of women in science whose vital contributions to the burgeoning field of astronomy forever changed our understanding of the stars and our place in the universe.

In the mid-nineteenth century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as calculators, or "human computers," to interpret the observations their male counterparts made via telescope each night.

At the outset this group included the wives, sisters, and daughters of the resident astronomers, but soon the female corps included graduates of the new women's colleges: Vassar, Wellesley, and Smith.

As photography transformed the practice of astronomy, the ladies turned from computation to studying the stars captured nightly on glass photographic plates.

Other names announced in the line up are Kate Cole-Adams, Morris Gleitzman, Kate Grenville, American biology professor and Pulitzer Prize finalist David George Haskell, Tony Jones, Hannah Kent, Christina Lamb, David Marr, Sally Rippin, Michael Robotham, visual artist Venkat Shyam and Holly Throsby.

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