In a world where extreme voices threaten to erode our individual and collective identities, positive human relationships are an increasingly fortifying antidote. Join Pulitzer Prize–winning author Junot Díaz (Islandborn), Pajtim Statovci (My Cat Yugoslavia) and Sarah Krasnostein (The Trauma Cleaner) as they tackle some of the most pressing questions of our age. In this absorbing panel, moderated by Wheeler Centre’s Sophie Black, they’ll consider how empathy can be a political issue and how storytelling can promote connection in a fragmented society. Curated by Sarah Krasnostein. Supported by ARA.

Junot Díaz (International)

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Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Drown; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist and Islandborn, a picture-book for young readers. A graduate of Rutgers College, Junot is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at MIT.

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.

Sarah Krasnostein (Australian)

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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.

Sophie Black (Australian)

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Sophie Black is the content strategist at the Wheeler Centre where she has also acted as head of programming. Previously she was editor-in-chief at Private Media, where she headed up the titles Crikey, Women’s Agenda, SmartCompany, StartUpSmart and Property Observer. In 2013 she delivered the Adelaide Festival of Ideas as Director. She sits on the advisory board for Melbourne University’s Centre for Advancing Journalism. She has written on subjects such as immigration, the publishing and advertising industries, climate change, the media, Indigenous affairs, US and federal politics. Sophie was also deputy editor of the weekly magazine The Reader after working in film and TV production.