Brisbane Writers Festival launches a page-turning 2023 program

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Brisbane Writers Festival (BWF) is back in 2023 with a program of plot twists and page-turners from 10 to 14 May.

The 2023 Festival is an unmissable adventure from beginning to end with over 150 live events including author talks, panel discussions, workshops and all-new Literary Salons.

More than 60 Brisbane authors will feature alongside a star-studded line-up of national and international guests.

Australian headline authors include Stan Grant, Grace Tame, Tim Winton and Kate Morton while international highlights include Booker Prize winner Shehan Karunatilaka, Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh and US author Gabrielle Zevin.


BWF’s 2023 Country of Focus is South Korea and guest curator Sung-Ae Lee has developed a program examining the nuanced and coded approach of South Korean authors as they tackle topics still culturally taboo in their homeland.

Lee is joined by guest curators Daniel Browning (Aboriginal First Nations), Samantha Faulkner (Torres Strait Islander First Nations), Matthew Condon (Brisbane Stories), Megan Daley (Word Play) and Karen Lee (LoveYA).

BWF Artistic Director Jackie Ryan said her inaugural 2023 program would spin a rollicking tale of festive entertainment from blockbuster bestsellers to literary luminaries and everything in between.

After a difficult time for many with fire, flood and plague, we’re looking to put the ‘festive’ in Festival.
Jackie Ryan | Artistic Director, Brisbane Writers Festival

“Festive means different things to different people, of course, so we’ve prepared a literary feast to suit all tastes: we’ve got spies, romance, politics, science, history, poetry, comedy, crime, philosophy, self-help, technology, social issues, monsters, performance, conflict and food – and that’s just the entrée!” Ryan said.

“Your literary dishes will be served by some of the most acclaimed writers and emerging talents in their fields. Dig in.”

Irvine Welsh returns to BWF to talk about his latest release, The Long Knives, reflect on his grungy modern classic, Trainspotting, 30 years after its release and lend insight to the Blockbuster Crime panel alongside Tracey Lien, Candice Fox and Garry Disher.

Australia’s traditional storytellers share culture and spark connections with panels and conversations featuring First Nations authors including Lionel Fogarty, Brooke Blurton, Alexis Wright and Lystra Rose.


New Zealand duo Matt and Sarah Brown reveal how their heart-rending book, She is Not Your Rehab, sparked a global movement to break the cycle of intergenerational abuse.

Sharing insight, innovation and inspiration for BWF’s 2023 Country of Focus is a diverse line-up of South Korean authors including Bora Chung, Park Sang Young, Krys Lee and Kim Min Jeong.

From page to stage, Regurgitator’s Ben Ely reflects on the 30th anniversary of the iconic Brisbane band while writer and music aficionado Tony Wellington heads down memory lane with Brisbane rock scholar Andrew Stafford.

A Fine Romance rewrites love stories for a new era and diehard romantics Trent Dalton and Samuel Johnson will sweep Lovers of Love off their feet with affairs of the heart.

Matthew Condon infuses the program with placemaking stories told by Brisbane’s local legends including Walter Sofronoff, Hedley Thomas, Frances Whiting and Susan Johnson.

Stepping on set, Bryan Brown talks about his noir-ish novel Sweet Jimmy and joins Trent Dalton, Holly Ringland and Witi Ihimaera to discuss adapting books for the screen.

Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty, Inga Simpson and Aaron Fa’aoso examine the inextricable links between national identity and sport in Australia in This Sporting Life.

The five-day festival sees the return of the internationally renowned Literary Death Match as well as an elegant Mother’s Day High Tea at Customs House with special guest Holly Wainwright interviewed by Frances Whiting.

Word Play, BWF’s program for students from Prep to Year 12, returns as well as Love YA, presented in partnership with Brisbane City Council Libraries.

Read the full program HERE.