20 May 2024

Kiama Readers' Festival to serve up a literary feast with some of Australia's greatest authors

| Kellie O'Brien
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collage of book covers and authors

Some of the authors who are part of the Kiama Readers’ Festival 2024. Photo: Supplied.

Tickets are now on sale for the Kiama Readers’ Festival, which is described as being akin to “a big book club” offering up captivating reads and a rare opportunity to engage with esteemed Australian authors.

The Kiama Readers’ Festival returns this year to share the joy of reading with some of Australia’s greatest authors over two days, 19-20 July.

Perrie Croshaw, president of the Friends of Kiama Library and the Kiama Readers’ Festival 2024, said the event started in 2016 and was a great opportunity to be introduced to readers you may not have thought about.

“This is like a big book club in a way,” Perrie said.

“One of the things I think is fabulous about a book club is you go along and someone else chooses the book for you to read.

“I have been involved in book clubs for decades, and I have read books that I would never pick off the bookshelf, because someone else has suggested we read them.

“Well, with this festival, you can go along and hear the best parts of the books to whet your appetite so you can go home and read more of that book or from that author.

“The whole objective of this readers’ festival is to get people reading.”

And she said the event’s timing couldn’t be better.

“Who doesn’t want to curl up with a really good book and a glass of wine in this sort of weather?” she said.

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This year’s festival features a couple of categories, including one on food on the Friday at the Burnetts On Barney nursery.

Perrie said the authors would include permaculture expert Kirsten Bradley on growing things, horticulturist Craig Castree on soils and edible gardens, and Gerringong’s Fiona Weir Walmsley, from Buena Vista Farm, who wrote a cookbook.

“Because it’s a nursery, we thought it would be really appropriate to have people talking about plants and growing things and good food,” Perrie said.

“They’ve got this fabulous, very large greenhouse that makes a great space to have a group of people that are interested in listening to people writing about growing.”

That night at Kiama Library, folk-country musician and author Fred Smith will sing and speak about his time in Afghanistan and his book The Dust of Uruzgan.

Perrie said the major event, in conjunction with the BAD Sydney Crime Writers Festival, would feature Chris Hammer and Michael Brissenden, two journalists-turned-award-winning crime writers, who will talk with crime reviewer Professor Susan Turnbull about the great advantages of setting crime in Australia.

“Michael was supposed to speak at the last readers’ festival with his novel Dead Letters and couldn’t, but now he’s got this new novel, Smoke, which is a bit of a cli-fi, which is climate fiction,” she said.

“That’s a whole different subcategory out.

“So essentially, it’s when cri-fi meets cli-fi, because pretty much you can’t write a crime fiction in Australia that doesn’t involve some kind of reference to climate change or climate.

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“Chris Hammer has got to be one of Australia’s best crime writers that’s setting his stories in the Australian landscape.”

There will also be a Books By The Sea event at The Pavilion to include authors Hugh Mackay, Joanna Nell, Karen Viggers, David Hardaker, Andra Putnis and Sue Williams.

Perrie said Sue had written Run for Your Life about a man who moved to Russia in 1998 to help build the British Embassy in Moscow, but ended up on the run with his wife and two children after leaking secrets from Vladimir Putin’s one-time deputy. The couple ends up hiding off-grid in Australia.

“He came out of the bush and talked to Sue about his exploits, so that’s going to be a great event to kick off Saturday,” she said.

To round off the festival, on the Saturday night, social commentator and writer Jane Caro will be guest the speaker at a dinner at the Kiama Leagues Club.

While there are many writers’ events, Perrie said the readers’ festival was different.

“This festival is put together by a group of volunteers called the Friends of Kiama Library and our remit is to create events to stimulate reading in the Kiama region,” she said.

She said it also received funding from Destination Kiama and Kiama Council.

Money raised by the Friends of Kiama Library had so far gone to prizes for kids who excel in reading over school holidays, a laser printer, virtual reality headsets and a series of display cabinets that were made in the Illawarra from timber in the region.

Tickets are now on sale for the Kiama Readers’ Festival.

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