Three of the Festival’s brightest minds come together to examine our evolving relationship with power. The Future is History author Masha Gessen, The Fox Hunt author Mohammed Al Samawi and A Moonless, Starless Sky author Alexis Okeowo consider how unjust authority is wielded and resisted in the modern world, how we can free ourselves from its messages and impact, and how these strategies are changing over time. This thought-provoking panel is curated and hosted by The Trauma Cleaner author Sarah Krasnostein. Curated by Sarah Krasnostein. Supported by Audible. Masha Gessen is supported by Rowena Danziger AM and Ken Coles AM.

Mohammed Al Samawi (International)

Al Samawi, Mohammed.jpeg

Mohammed Al Samawi was born in Sana’a, Yemen and grew up as a practising Muslim. His memoir, The Fox Hunt, shares the moving story of love, war, and hope in which he recounts his harrowing personal transformation from a traditionalist to an interfaith activist, and how he escaped the brutal civil war in Yemen with the help of a daring plan engineered on social media by a small group of Facebook friends in the West. La La Land producer Marc Platt is currently developing the movie “The Fox Hunt,” based on Mohammed Al-Samawi’s autobiography.

Alexis Okeowo (International)

Okeowo, Alexis c Krisanne Johnson.jpg

Alexis Okeowo is a magazine writer and screenwriter, and a former fellow at New America. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, the Financial Times, The Best American Travel Writing, and The Best American Sports Writing. The daughter of immigrant parents, Okeowo grew up in Alabama and attended Princeton University. She was based in Lagos, Nigeria, from 2012 to 2015, and now lives in Brooklyn. Her first book, A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism In Africa, is a vivid narrative of Africans who are courageously resisting their continent’s wave of fundamentalism.

Masha Gessen (International)

Gessen, Masha c Tanya Sazansky.jpg

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.

Sarah Krasnostein (Australian)

Krasnostein, Sarah c Gina Milicia.jpeg

Sarah Krasnostein was born in America, studied in Melbourne and has lived and worked in both countries. Earning her doctorate in criminal law, she is a law lecturer and researcher. She lives in Melbourne, and spends part of the year working in New York City. The Trauma Cleaner is her first book that won the 2017 Victorian Prize for Literature.