Words & language
What do the Oscar Wilde, Snoop Dogg, Kaz Cooke, BuzzFeed writers and your grandpa have in common? The love of puns!
Last year’s Pundemonium was tense, but now that’s past … ahem … it’s time to present another. This time, we invite six of our punniest friends to The Toff in Town to unleash their most gasp-inducing, groan-generating and perhaps even…
A Celebration of John Clarke
On Sunday 2 July, crowds filled the Melbourne Town Hall to pay tribute – and share in the humour of – the late satirist John Clarke. Here, we're sharing photos and a full audio recording of the event, as well as a rundown of the evening's programme.
More Than Words: Translation and Interpretation
Gregory Rabassa, revered translator of Gabriel García Márquez, wrote that ‘every act of communication is an act of translation.’ Even when speaking the same tongue, we so often get our wires crossed. It’s not just words but gestures, tone, cultural context and, of course, silence that convey meaning – intentionally or otherwise. Translation between languages is at once fraught (Umberto Eco called…
Strange Here: George Saunders
'If we were going to try to write a novel about right now, what’s the equivalent of a god’s-eye-view of right now? I think it’s … every thought going on right now, presented simultaneously.'
American writer George Saunders is one of the world’s most surreal – and most empathic – eyewitnesses to modern life. But quixotic? Not so much. In his writing…
The Wheeler Centre
Hisham Matar with Hilary Harper
‘One day justice will be done and the jailer will replace the jailed.’ Hisham Matar’s father wrote these words in a smuggled letter to his family in 1992, while imprisoned in one of Muammar el-Qaddafi’s notorious jails in Tripoli.
Jaballa Matar was a political dissident, kidnapped in 1990 by the dictator’s agents, and jailed. For years he wrote occasional letters to his family – but then the letters stopped. In the decades since, his London-based son, a writer, has worked to find out what happened to his father; to learn if he is dead or alive.
Matar’s latest book, The Return, describes this hideous quest with exquisite skill and sorrow. In April, it won a Pulitzer Prize. His previous books, the Booker-shortlisted novel In the Country of Men and Anatomy of a Disappearance, dealt with similar themes, winning praise from the likes of J.M. Coetzee.
‘You make a man disappear to silence him but also to narrow the minds of those left behind, to pervert their soul and limit their imagination,’ Matar writes in The Return. It’s a story of exile, absence and appalling suspense told with rare gentleness and restraint.
In this episode of the Wheeler Centre podcast, this extraordinary writer makes his second visit to the Wheeler Centre to discuss his life, career and the art of recollection with Hilary Harper.
The Wheeler Centre
The Alt Write
If we’re more careful with language, hopefully less people will think that gestures mean things. Because they don’t.Roxane Gay
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?
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.
George Saunders, Roxane Gay, Michael Williams, Brit Bennett and John Safran — (Photo: Jon Tjhia)
From afar — (Photo: Jon Tjhia)
Anything and everything in Words & language from across our archives.
In Other Words
Speaking of translation, Media Bistro has published another one of its ‘mix tapes’. This one is described as a special literary sampler of the novels longlisted to win the Best Translated Book Award for novels published in the US in 2010. The longlist features works from 19 countries in 12 languages.
The awards are in their 5th year. They’re run by Three Percent, a…
Germany’s Best Writers
Click to watch video.
What does German hip hop sound like? How has the re-unification of one of Europe’s oldest cultures brought out new artforms?
In this partnership event with the Goethe-Institut Australien as part of the German-Australian Arts Festival in Melbourne, this panel explores modern German identity and the dynamic art scene of its capital.
Words of the Year for 2010
Macquarie Dictionary is reviewing the words of 2011 and asking for people to vote on their favourite word of the year. The list makes for a fascinating picture of what interested us in the last 12 months as well as introducing a few playful expressions to your vocabulary.
We were surprised to learn that koala ears has little to do with the marsupial. With…
Dictionary Creator Gets Modern Rhymes
Dr Samuel Johnson has been an active Twitterer for some time but recently he has published a new dictionary based on our modern world.
Of course, it’s a fake but as an extract from the Quietus shows, author phoney-Johnston Tom Morton has captured much of Dr Johnson’s humour especially when defining hip-hop right down to the characteristic spelling. Here’s the basic definition: “Hip-Hop is…
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