Sunday, May 19, 2024

Sunday Salon: Melbourne Writers Festival

Last week it was Melbourne Writers Festival. I do try to attend a least one event each year at the festival, although sometimes it is easier than others to find sessions which sounded interesting. When I first saw the program for this year, the two authors I really wanted to see were Toshikazu Kawaguchi and Shankari Chandran. Whilst I was able to see Toshikazu Kawaguchi, the Chandran session was sold out. Maybe next time. 

We ended up going two sessions. The first session was Irish writer Paul Murray, author of The Bee  Sting and American writer Bryan Washington, author of Family Meal,  who were talking to Australian author Toni Jordan. The theme for the Festival this year is Ghosts, and this session was Familiar Haunts, and so the authors spoke about literal and figurative ghosts in their respective books. Interestingly, at book club today, one of the members had read The Bee Sting and highly recommends it, so that is the book out of these two that I am most likely to read.

The session I was most looking forward to, and that I most enjoyed, was the session with Toshikazu Kawaguchi. It was an absolute pleasure from the moment he took to the stage with a cheeky wave to the crowd, until the very end! The whole crowd hung on every word. Of course, he was there to talk about the very popular series that starts with Before the Coffee Gets Cold. 

The conversation was really interesting, ranging from talking about Kawaguchi's work on the stage to his disbelief of being in Australia. He also shared a number of secrets about the book. For example, the first book,  Before the Coffee Gets Cold, was originally a screenplay which makes perfect sense when you think about how the book is only set with in the four walls of the cafe. He also shared how the ghost in the story came to be, and that he never really intended to write books. 

One of the interesting things he talked about was the rule in the books which says that even going back to the past can't change what has already happened. When asked about this Kawaguchi talked about it not being about changing the future but rather about being able to move to a different acceptance about what has happened when you return to the present. It's a lovely sentiment.

Obviously, Kawaguchi is Japanese, and so there needed to be a translator and he did such a great job, and was part of what made the session so much fun. The host would ask a question that would be translated, and then you would see Kawaguchi laughing as he responded, and then the translator would laugh, and then when the crown got the translation we would also laugh! 

There was a suggestion that there maybe some kind of TV or movie in the offing, but apparently there is already a Japanese movie version which I am going to need to try to find.

I have just finished listening to the fourth book in the series, so I was very excited to hear that the English translation of book number five is on it's way and should be out in a few months, and that he is currently writing book number six.

And what do you do after a session like this. Well, of course you go for ramen! Delicious!

I am so glad that I did make the effort to attend these sessions!

Have you attended a writers festival in your home town?


  1. Sounds like a great time. Glad you were able to go.

  2. I have almost always been to the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Readers Series in Houston. It's in its 43rd year. I've heard some amazing writers over the years---Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro, Abraham Verghese. I am so glad you went to Melbourne Writers Festival and shared your experiences with us. The Bee Sting is a powerful book. I highly recommend it.

  3. What fun to get to see/hear Kawaguchi speak!

  4. This sounds fun! I have been to a few conferences - the most fun were some very over-the-top romance conferences when I worked in publishing.

    Your new blog layout is looking good!

  5. Glad you had an enjoyable time! Have a great week!

  6. That writer's festival sounds great! I have only read the first Before The Coffee Gets Cold book, but I loved it and immediately watched the Japanese movie (has Funicular in the title) and loved it, too.

    THIS: "...not being about changing the future but rather about being able to move to a different acceptance about what has happened when you return to the present. It's a lovely sentiment."

  7. I haven't attended a writer's festival, but you make it sound very fun!

  8. So interesting to hear about the Book Festival. I try to go to the one here in October each year. It is neat to hear from the authors!

    1. I take the opportunity whenever I can!