The Alt Write

The Alt Write

Our favourite writers move us and inspire us: our imaginations, our humanity, our understanding of the world. But sometimes their writerly purpose can carry a little more bite. What is the role for the writer as shit-stirrer and agitator, provocateur and agent for change?

If we’re more careful with language, hopefully less people will think that gestures mean things. Because they don’t.

Roxane Gay

With host Michael Williams, four incredible writers and contrarians – Roxane Gay, John Safran, George Saunders and Brit Bennett – discuss how they push against platitude, prejudice and power in their writing. Are we living in a ‘post-truth’ era of degraded language, where the integrity of words and meaning are under siege? Is it just the nature of language? Is meaning always up for grabs?

And, in such an age, what, if anything, is the responsibility of the writer? Is it to change minds? Or even the world? These four very different writers – whose work traverses overt provocation, subtle subversion and radical inclusion – get down to the nitty gritty of the politics and purpose of the act of writing.

Who?

Portrait of Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is the author of the novel An Untamed State, Bad Feminist: Essays and the story collection Ayiti. Her work has also appeared in Glamour, Best American Short Stories, and the New York Times Book Review. She is the co-editor of PANK.

Portrait of George Saunders

George Saunders

George Saunders is the author of nine books, including Tenth of December, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the inaugural Folio Prize (for the best work of fiction in English) and the Story Prize (best short-story collection).

He has received MacArthur and Guggen­heim fellowships and the PEN/Malamud Prize for excellence in the short story, and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In 2013, he was named one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time magazine. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.

Portrait of Brit Bennett

Brit Bennett

Born and raised in Southern California, Brit Bennett graduated from Stanford University and later earned her MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan, where she won a Hopwood Award in Graduate Short Fiction as well as the 2014 Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers. Her work is featured in the New YorkerNew York Times MagazineParis Review and Jezebel. The Mothers is Brit Bennett’s debut novel.

Portrait of John Safran

John Safran

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

John first hit TV screens in 1997 on Race Around the World (ABC TV). Both John Safran's Music Jamboree (SBS, 2002) and John Safran vs. God (SBS, 2004) won Australian Film Industry awards for Best Comedy Series and Most Original Concept, and were also nominated for Logie Awards.

Other shows include John Safran's Race Relations (ABC TV, 2009), which was nominated for two awards at the prestigious Rose d'Or Festival in Switzerland, and Speaking in Tongues (SBS, 2005–6). John also co-hosted Sunday Night Safran, a radio talk show on Triple J with cranky but beloved Catholic priest, Father Bob Maguire.

Portrait of Michael Williams

Michael Williams

Michael Williams is the Director of the Wheeler Centre.

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