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Ten Days in May

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Jonathan Lethem

Jonathan Lethem is one of American literature’s most omnivorous talents, with fingers in science fiction (Gun, with Occasional Music, Amnesia Moon, Girl in Landscape), crime fiction (Motherless Brooklyn) and rock journalism. His whip-smart critical essays have poked at topics including art, used books, Donald Sutherland’s butt, John Wayne and superhero films.

Lethem’s latest novel, Dissident Gardens, is perhaps his most political to date, offering a sweeping account of multiple generations of American agitators, communists, and would-be revolutionaries. True to form, Lethem’s latest work also pulses with references to cultural touchstones, with ’70s folk music culture embedded deeply within the narrative, much as rap and comic books featured in his semi-autobiographical novel The Fortress of Solitude.

“I can see human lives in cultural terms,” Lethem has said. “My characters, the kind of people I know, define themselves culturally. The kinds of music, the kinds of clothing, the kinds of attitudes, [and] literature, these are the ways they name who they are and how they feel.”

One of New York’s sharpest and most curious talents joins us at Deakin Edge for a conversation about his latest book, Dissident Gardens, and certainly much more. With Chloe Hooper. 


Portrait of Jonathan Lethem

Jonathan Lethem

Jonathan Lethem is one of the US’s greatest contemporary writers, exploring a range of subjects across an array of forms. He has written nine novels including Motherless Brooklyn, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the international bestseller The Fortress of Solitude, and his most recent, Dissident Gardens. Jonathan’s stories and essays have been collected in five volumes, and have appeared in The New YorkerRolling StoneMcSweeney’s and many other periodicals. His books have been translated into more than 30 languages.

Portrait of Chloe Hooper

Chloe Hooper

Chloe Hooper’s The Tall Man: Death and Life on Palm Island (2008) won the Victorian, New South Wales, West Australian and Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards, as well as the John Button Prize for Political Writing, and a Ned Kelly Award for crime writing. Her latest book is The Arsonist: A Mind on Fire (2018). She is also the author of two novels, A Child’s Book of True Crime and The Engagement.

Ten Days in May

This May, join us as we welcome guests from Sydney Writers’ Festival to Melbourne.

You’ll meet genre-hopping writer Jonathan Lethem, find a clearer path to happiness with Paul Dolan, explore counterinsurgency and ethnography with David Kilcullen and Robert Manne, and catch up with international children’s publishing sensation David Walliams — often dubbed ‘the new Roald Dahl’.

Plus: hear from literary magician David Mitchell, delve into various beginnings with legendary playwright and novelist Michael Frayn, learn about the turning points in master biographer Claire Tomalin’s own life, and examine textual intimacy with Booker-winning poet and author Ben Okri.

Presented in partnership with Sydney Writers’ Festival.

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