Every few years, another scientific study proves that reading literary fiction enhances the empathy and social skills of readers. Authors discuss how complex characters and nuanced narratives allow readers to empathise with those seemingly very different to themselves. Anuk Arudpragasam (The Story of a Brief Marriage), Michelle Cahill (Letter to Pessoa), bestselling author Margo Lanagan (Swarm) and Graeme Simsion (The Best of Adam Sharp) talk with Grace Menary-Winefield about writing empathy, and how authors can help us to understand the minds of others.

Anuk Arudpragasam (International)

Anuk Arudpragasam is from Colombo, Sri Lanka and currently lives in New York, where he is completing a doctorate in philosophy at Columbia University. His first novel, The Story of a Brief Marriage, is a meditation on trauma and silence and takes place over the course of a few hours in a displaced person's camp during the final days of the Sri Lankan Civil War. Described as 'an act of sustained empathy' by The New Yorker, it was named one of the Best Ten Novels of 2016 by The Wall Street Journal. Anuk writes in English and Tamil.

Michelle Cahill (Australian)

Michelle Cahill was born in Kenya and has lived in the UK and Australia. Her debut short story collection is Letter to Pessoa. She has won the Hilary Mantel International Short Story Competition, the Val Vallis Poetry Award, and was shortlisted in the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Prize. She was a fellow at Kingston University and a visiting scholar in creative writing at UNC, Charlotte. The founding editor of Mascara and has written essays on race, caste and cultural diversity for Sydney Review of Books, The Weekend Australian and Cordite. Her most recent poetry collection is The Herring Lass.