Sally Rugg welcomes some of the Festival’s most esteemed guests for a celebration of iconic queer literature. From Orlando to Giovanni’s Room, join Yrsa Daley-Ward, Masha Gessen, Eileen Myles, Carmen Maria Machado, Pajtim Statovci and Christos Tsiolkas as they share the texts that shaped them – from the overtly queer to between-the-lines classics. They reveal the novels that were lifelines growing up, the characters they were most drawn to, and the writers who have influenced their own work today. Supported by the University of Sydney. Masha Gessen is supported by Rowena Danziger AM and Ken Coles AM.

Carmen Maria Machado (International)

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Carmen Maria Machado's debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Kirkus Prize, and the winner of the Bard Fiction Prize. She is a fiction writer, critic, and essayist whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Guernica, and Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the Michener-Copernicus Foundation and Yaddo. She is the Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, and lives in Philadelphia with her wife.

Pajtim Statovci (International)

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Pajtim Statovci moved from Kosovo to Finland with his family when he was two years old, and holds an MA in comparative literature from the University of Helsinki. His first novel, My Cat Yugoslavia, received widespread acclaim among critics and readers alike, and won Pajtim the prestigious Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize. The awarding jury praised the still only 24-year-old author’s ability to combine the dreamlike with the realistic, and give old symbols new meaning and power. Statovci’s second novel, Heartlines, won the Toisinkoinen Literature Prize in 2016.

Masha Gessen (International)

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Masha Gessen is the author of nine books, most recently The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, which was awarded the National Book Award in the United States in 2017. Masha's other books include the international bestseller The Man Without a Face: the Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. Masha was born in Russia, emigrated to the United States as a teenager, returned to Moscow as a correspondent, and emigrated to the United States again in 2013, after the Kremlin launched its antigay campaign. Masha now lives in New York City, works as a staff writer at The New Yorker, and teaches at Amherst College.

Eileen Myles (International)

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Eileen Myles is a poet, novelist, performer and art journalist. Their twenty books include Afterglow (a dog memoir), Cool for You and the iconic Chelsea Girls. In 1992 Myles ran an openly female write in campaign for President of the United States. They have received grants and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, Andy Warhol/Creative Capital, the Foundation for Contemporary Art, the Shelley Prize from the PSA and four Lambda Book Awards. In 2016, Myles received the Clark Prize for excellence in art writing. They live in Marfa, Texas and New York.

Christos Tsiolkas (Australian)

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Christos Tsiolkas is the author of the novels Loaded (filmed as Head On by Ana Kokkinos), The Jesus Man, Dead Europe (adapted into a film by Tony Krawitz), The Slap and Barracuda (both adapted as mini-series by Matchbox Films and the ABC). He has also co-authored the dialogue, Jump Cuts: An Autobiography with Sasha Soldatow. His short story collection, Merciless Gods was published in 2016 and adapted into a stage show by Little Ones Theatre Co. His latest book is a monograph on Patrick White for the Writers on Writers series. Christos is also a scriptwriter, playwright and essayist, and the film critic for The Saturday Paper.

Yrsa Daley-Ward (International)

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Yrsa Daley-Ward is a writer, LGBTQI activist and poet of West Indian and West African heritage. Born to a Jamaican mother and a Nigerian father, Yrsa was raised by her devout Seventh Day Adventist grandparents in the small town of Chorley in the North of England. She initially self-published her debut poetry collection bone in 2014. bone is a poignant collection of poems about the heart, life, and the inner self, examining the alchemy between mind and body, with subjects ranging from hunger, trauma, desire, race and sexuality. Her next book is called The Terrible.

Sally Rugg (Australian)

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Sally Rugg is an LGBTIQ rights activist, writer and public speaker. She is a Campaign Director at political activist group GetUp, where she lead the campaign for marriage equality for 5 years. Sally was recently awarded the 2017 SMAC of the Year at the FBi Awards, a Woman of The Year by Harpers Bazaar, one of Australia’s Most Influential LGBTIQ people by Cosmopolitan magazine and among the Top 15 Women Championing Human Rights by Amnesty International. She volunteers at LGBTIQ youth service Twenty10 and is currently writing her first book, which is about the marriage equality campaign.