2021 Festival First Six Guests Announced

Take a seat as we introduce six writers to kick off the 2021 Byron Writers Festival Line-up. We invite you to join us this 6-8 August for a three-day festival of ideas, conversation and storytelling in one of the world’s most beautiful coastal locations.

Clockwise from top left: Julia Baird, Tony Birch, Malcolm Turnbull, Hayley Katzen, Alice Pung and Evelyn Araluen

The 2021 Byron Writers Festival is on the horizon and we are excited to reveal and introduce the first six writers and thinkers of more than 140 names coming to Byron Bay this 6-8 August.

These popular and provoking strong voices guarantee to spark vibrant conversations over the three-day celebration set against a backdrop of Byron Bay’s incredible coastline.

First up we welcome award-winning journalist and ABIA Book of the Year Phosphorescence author Dr. Julia Baird. Julia hosts The Drum on ABC TV and writes columns for The New York Times and The Sydney Morning Herald. Phosphorescence – an intimate and inspiring investigation into how we can find within ourselves an ‘internal light’ which will sustain us even through the darkest times – became an instant bestseller when it was published in 2020.

Festival goers will also be treated to fascinating insights into Australia’s political machinations.  Welcoming our 29th Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull, who will tell the remarkable story of his life and his time in politics as captured in his page-turning memoir A Bigger Picture.

‘This is the most extraordinary, revealing, incendiary and often compelling Australian prime ministerial memoir published. Nothing compares. Hard to put down.’Troy Bramston

Fans will be pleased to see activist, historian and acclaimed author of the novels The White Girl, Ghost River and Blood Tony Birch return to the Festival. Birch will appear at this year’s Festival following the release of two new books in 2021, a poetry collection, Whisper Songs, and a new short story collection, Dark as Last Night.

‘Birch has great empathy and a skilful pen to match.’ – The Sydney Morning Herald

Tony Birch describes Goorie-Koori poet and fellow writer Evelyn Araluen as a ‘dynamic voice that needs to be heard’ and The Guardian Australia said her powerful debut Dropbear, a collection of poems and prose, is ‘a stunning scalpel wielded through Australian myths’. Born and raised on Dharug country, Araluen is a descendant of the Bundjalung Nation. Araluen is an exciting, vibrant young voice in Australian writing that you don’t want to miss.

We are a pleased to announce and welcome best-selling writer, essayist and lawyer Alice Pung to the Festival. Her much anticipated new novel One Hundred Days is a fractured fairytale that explores the fault lines between love and control.

‘Alice is one of Australia’s most original and skillfull storytellers, and this book grips from the beginning.’ – Chris Feik, Publisher.

Introducing and welcoming Hayley Katzen, an exceptional writer who is joining us this year. Katzen will be sharing her part love-story and part off-the-grid adventures with compelling sincerity. Katzen’s journey as told in her powerful memoir Untethered crosses the divide between city and country, and connects communities that are so often kept separate by experience, politics and interest.

‘Untethered is magnificently clear-eyed and vivid exploration of belonging’ – Lee Kofman

And there we have it. Six unmissable writers to kick off the 2021 Festival line-up. The Festival’s full program will be announced on 23 June when tickets to all Festival days, Satellite and Workshops will go on sale. We look forward to sharing and delivering the full program of panels and conversations that celebrates storytelling in all its forms with you very soon.

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Byron Writers Festival