The Interrobang is a first – a Festival of Questions driven entirely by questions submitted by you. Through a series of controversial, funny, revealing and insightful talks featuring a diverse group of thinkers – our Brains Trust – you'll explore new ideas across books, politics, race, language, food, comedy, science, culture and much more.
Associate Professor Duffy is an astrophysicist at Swinburne University creating baby universes on supercomputers to understand how galaxies like our Milky Way form and grow within vast halos of invisible dark matter.
He is attempting to find this dark matter as part of SABRE, the world’s first dark matter detector in the Southern Hemisphere at the bottom of a gold mine in Stawell, Victoria. He is also an Associate Investigator in two ARC Centres of Excellence investigating the origin of matter (CAASTRO-3D) and seeing the Universe with gravitational waves (OzGrav).
Abdul Abdullah is an artist from Perth, currently based in Sydney, who works across painting, photography, video, installation and performance. As a self described ‘outsider amongst outsiders’, his practice is primarily concerned with the experience of the ‘other’ in society. Abdullah’s projects have engaged with different marginalised minority groups and he is particularly interested in the experience of young Muslims in the contemporary multicultural Australian context. Through these processes and explorations Abdullah extrapolates this outlook to an examination of universal aspects of human nature.
Graeme Innes is a lawyer, mediator and company director. He has been a human rights practitioner for more than 30 years.
Graeme was a Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission for almost nine years, responsible for issues relating to disability, race and human rights. In this role he led work on issues including the ratification by Australia of a UN Convention on the rights of people with disabilities, the Same Sex Same Entitlements inquiry, and three inspections of Australia's immigration detention centres.
He is currently the chair of the Attitude Australia Foundation, a startup aimed at using media to change attitudes towards Australians with disabilities. His memoir, Finding A Way, was published in 2016 by UQP.
Kristin Alford is a futurist and founding director of foresight agency Bridge8 with a PhD in process engineering and a Masters of Management in Strategic Foresight. Her clients include government, corporate and non-for-profits where she builds capability to think and act effectively in response to big social, environmental and technological changes. She was an organiser and facilitator for the Australian Academy of Sciences project imagining Australia in 2050. Other initiatives have included crowdfunding ideas that don't make sense and running a symposium on time with a start time of 4:42am. She is currently writing a book on five ways to see the future.
Geraldine Brooks is an author and journalist who grew up in Sydney's western suburbs.
In 1982 she won a scholarship to the journalism master's program at Columbia University in New York. Later, she worked for the Wall Street Journal, where she covered crises in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans.
In 2006, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for her novel March. Her novels Caleb's Crossing and People of the Book were both New York Times bestsellers, and Year of Wonders and People of the Book are international bestsellers, translated into more than 25 languages. She is also the author of the acclaimed non-fiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence.
In 2011, she presented Australia's prestigious Boyer Lectures, later published as The Idea of Home.
Alan Brough was born in New Zealand and is quite a bit older than he'd like to be. Alan has always loved books and, from an early age, wanted to be a writer. Then he and his Dad went to see Star Wars and Alan decided that, actually, he really, really, really, really, really wanted to be an actor.
After having been an actor for a while Alan realised there wasn't that much work for a 6'4" guy with a slightly lopsided face and thick curly hair so he tried his hand at directing, broadcasting, composing, dancing (true!), singing and, in an unexpected turn of events, being a professional music nerd.
Recently, he got around to being a writer.
One day he hopes to have a bio that includes phrases like 'bestselling', 'award-winning' and 'so successful that he recently bought a solid gold toilet' but, until then, he's just happy to look at his copy of Charlie and the War Against the Grannies and think: 'Cool! I wrote a book!'
Jane Caro is an author, novelist, speaker, broadcaster, columnist, advertising writer and media and social commentator. She has published seven books, including two novels about Elizabeth Tudor. Her memoir, Plain Speaking Jane, was released in September 2015. She writes regular columns in the Sun Herald Sunday Life magazine, MT magazine and Mamamia Debrief Daily. She appears often in the media, including on the Gruen Transfer, Agony, Q&A, The Drum, Sunrise and Weekend Sunrise.
Mark Colvin is an Australian journalist, filmmaker and broadcaster. He has been the presenter of PM, one of the flagship Australian radio current affairs programs on the ABC Radio network, since 1997.
Meghan Daum has been a columnist on the op-ed page of the Los Angeles Times since 2005. She is the author of four books, most recently The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, a collection of original essays about sentimentality and manufactured emotion in American life.
She is also the editor of Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Choice Not to Have Children, featuring essays from celebrated writers including Lionel Shriver, Geoff Dyer, Pam Houston, Sigrid Nunez and Kate Christensen.
She has contributed to National Public Radio's Morning Edition and Marketplace, This American Life, and has written for numerous publications including The New Yorker, Harper's, GQ, Elle, Vogue, New York, Travel & Leisure, BlackBook, The Village Voice, and the New York Times Book Review.
Rob Delaney is a writer and comedian who co-writes and co-stars in Catastrophe. His other television credits include Key & Peele, Chelsea Lately, Burning Love, and Cougartown. His first novel and bestselling memoir, Rob Delaney: Mother Wife Sister Human Warrior Falcon Yardstick Turban Cabbage, was published in 2013.
Upulie Divisekera is a molecular biologist, science communicator and writer based in Melbourne. Over her research career, Upulie has worked in cancer research, developmental biology and is currently involved with nanotechnology research.
Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger – the co-editor of Boing Boing and the author of Walkaway, a novel for adults, a YA graphic novel called In Real Life, the nonfiction business book Information Doesn't Want to Be Free, and young adult novels like Homeland, Pirate Cinema and Little Brother and novels for adults like Rapture of the Nerds and Makers. He works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is a MIT Media Lab Research Affiliate, is a Visiting Professor of Computer Science at Open University and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in Los Angeles.
Tom Elliott is the host of 3AW's Drive program. He is also a director of Melbourne-based wealth management firm Beulah Capital. Tom writes a weekly opinion column for Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper and appears regularly on the Nine Network’s Today and ABC TV’s Agony Uncles series.
Raimond Gaita has published widely to academic and non- academic audiences. In 2009, the University of Antwerp awarded Gaita the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa ‘for his exceptional contribution to contemporary moral philosophy and for his singular contribution to the role of the intellectual in today’s academic world’.
Sammy J is an award-winning comedian, writer, and songbird.
Mary Kostakidis is a journalist and for 20 years presented SBS World News. In 1980 she was a member of the management team that developed SBS television. Mary was a member of the National Human Rights Consultation Committee that recommended a Human Rights Act for Australia. A former Chair of USYD’s Sydney Peace Foundation, she has also served on the Advertising Standards Board, the Fred Hollows Board, the National Library Council and Sydney Theatre Board, and is a member of the Privacy Foundation Advisory Panel.
Benjamin Law writes books, TV screenplays, columns, essays and feature journalism. He’s the author of the memoir The Family Law (2010), the travel book Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012) – both nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards – and the Quarterly Essay on Safe Schools, Moral Panic 101 (2017). The Family Law is now also an award-winning TV series for SBS, which Benjamin created and co-writes.
Adam Liaw is a unique voice in Australian food. He is a food columnist for Fairfax and the Guardian, and the author of four hugely popular cookbooks on Asian cuisines. On television, Adam hosts the SBS food and travel program, Destination Flavour, now in its fourth season. He was the winner of MasterChef Australia’s blockbuster second series in 2010. He is also a qualified lawyer.
Nakkiah Lui is a writer/actor and Gamillaroi/Torres Strait Islander woman. She is a co-writer and star of ABC's Black Comedy. She has been an artist in residence at Griffin Theatre Company (2013) and was playwright in residence at Belvoir Theatre from 2012–14. In 2012, Nakkiah was the first recipient of The Dreaming Award from The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Arts Board of the Australia Council. The same year, Nakkiah was also the inaugural recipient of the Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright Award. In 2014, Nakkiah was the recipient of the Malcolm Robertson Prize and a Green Room Award for Best Independent Production. Most recently Nakkiah won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award 2018, Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting for Black is the New White.
Mary Norris is the author of Greek to Me and the New York Times bestseller Between You & Me, an account of her years in the New Yorker copy department. Originally from Cleveland, she lives in New York. Her favourite pencil used to be the Dixon Ticonderoga No. 1, but she now makes do with the Palomino Blackwing.
Gregory Phillips is from the Waanyi and Jaru peoples, and comes from Cloncurry and Mount Isa. He is a medical anthropologist, with thirty years’ experience in leading change in cultural safety, healing and decolonisation.
Gregory is Chief Executive Officer of ABSTARR Consulting, is a Professor of First People’s Health, and serves on several boards and committees, including chairing the Ebony Institute, the Cathy Freeman Foundation and AHPRA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health strategy group.
Maggie Ryan Sandford is a science journalist, fiction and comedy writer, and human behavior researcher at the Science Museum of Minnesota, whose work focuses on equity in science education, the relationship between science and art, and cetaceans. With a background in broadcast radio and TV production, sketch comedy, English literature, and biology, her work has appeared in Slate, Smithsonian, McSweeney’s, ComedyCentral.com, mental_floss, National Geographic, the Walker Art Center and Seattle Art Museum, onstage at the People's Improv and Upright Citizen's Brigade theaters in New York, and on the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio. She is currently at work on a book about dolphins.
Cheryl Strayed is the author of the number one New York Times bestselling memoir Wild, the bestselling advice essay collection Tiny Beautiful Things, the novel Torch and the quotes collection Brave Enough. Her books have been translated into 40 languages around the world.
Strayed's essays have been published in Best American Essays, the New York Times, the Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Salon, the Sun, Tin House and elsewhere. Strayed is the co-host, along with Steve Almond, of the WBUR podcast Dear Sugar Radio, which originated with her popular Dear Sugar advice column on The Rumpus.
Dr Anne Summers AO is a best-selling author, journalist and thought-leader with a long career in politics, the media, business and the non-government sector in Australia, Europe and the United States. She is author of nine books, including the classic Damned Whores and God's Police, Ducks on the Pond, The Lost Mother, and The Misogyny Factor.
Yanis Varoufakis is an economist and co-founder of the DiEM25 movement for democracy, which he was re-elected to the Greek parliament to represent in 2019. A former Finance Minister of Greece, he is the author of a memoir, Adults in the Room, and a history, And the Weak Suffer What They Must?, which reveal and explain the catastrophic mishandling of Europe since the financial crisis. Both were number one bestsellers. His latest bestseller is Talking To My Daughter About the Economy: A Brief History of Capitalism.
Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer. She hosts the Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, now in its ninth year. She is a former editor of the Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.
Sally is a regular host and commentator on ABC radio and has a PhD in anthropology. She did her fieldwork in Mumbai, India, living by the seashore with the local fishing community.
Michael Williams is the Director of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne. He has worked at the Wheeler Centre since inception in 2009, when he was hired as the Head of Programming before being appointed as Director in September 2011.
He has hosted Blueprint for Living (2015–2016), then Talkfest (2017–2019), on ABC RN. He remains a regular guest on ABC Radio and TV. Michael has also worked as a Breakfast presenter for Melbourne’s 3RRR, as a member of the Australia Council’s Literature Board, in publishing and has written extensively for the Guardian, the Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian and elsewhere.