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Anita Desai and William Dalrymple


Our fabulous double bills are back – bringing you three big nights of international writers, presented back-to-back. From genre-bending fiction bestsellers to young adult authors with cult followings, and non-fiction superstars who’ll change the way you view the world … we’ve got a little something for everyone. You can cherry-pick your favourite authors and book individual events, or make a night of it and see two authors at once. It’s up to you.

6:45pm – 7:45pm and 8:30pm – 9:30pm (includes a 45 minute interval).

Anita Desai has been shortlisted three times for the Booker Prize; the Guardian recently called her ‘India’s greatest living writer’. The India of her childhood transformed after Partition; later she left for new homes in England and the United States, though India remains her canvas. Her latest book, The Artist of Disappearance, blends irony, sympathy and a clear-eyed criticism of contemporary culture, in three novellas that explore the frailty and transforming power of art. With influences as diverse as Virginia Woolf and Rilke, her books chronicle ‘forgotten, vanishing worlds’, in the words of her daughter (and Booker winner) Kiran Desai.

Anita Desai will be joined in conversation by Hilary Harper.

(This session can also be booked separately here.)

William Dalrymple fell in love with India aged eighteen; it has been at the centre of his writing since. Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan tells what happened when the British Governor-General of India was convinced to invade Afghanistan – in order to save India from an imaginary Russian threat. This paved the path for subsequent wars … and sheds devastating light on the current one. Dalrymple has immersed himself in the Afghans’ story; the result is, according to the Guardian, ‘a racy tale of imperial misadventure and Victorian jihadism’ that shows ‘ourselves as others see us’.

(Tickets for this session only can be booked here.)


Anita Desai

Anita Desai was born and educated in India. Her published works include many award-winning short story collections and novels, three of which have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, most recently Fasting, Feasting. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the American Academy of... Read more

William Dalrymple

William Dalrymple is one of Britain’s greatest historians and the author of the classic In Xanadu, the Wolfson Prize-winning White Mughals and the Hemingway Prize-winning Return of a King. A master of microhistories, William Dalrymple has turned his hand for the first time to macro-history in The ... Read more

Hilary Harper

Hilary Harper has a degree in English Literature and Cultural Studies, a Graduate Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing, and 30 years’ experience in radio. She’s been at the ABC since 2005. She’s covered everything from news and current affairs to traffic reporting, arts, health, gardeni... Read more


Athenaeum Theatre

188 Collins Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

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