Arthur Miller Lecture: Richard Flanagan

On left: Headshots of Richard Flanagan and Alexandra Schwartz. On right: “Power to the People” and “Richard Flanagan with Alexandra Schwartz” name on top of assorted colorful shapes


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This event is part of the 2021 PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. Visit to learn more and get tickets for other events.

Across his career, Tasmanian novelist and Booker Prize winner Richard Flanagan has unearthed histories that are crucial to remember to avoid repeating. He has built a canon that explores the realities of outsider characters—immigrants and displaced convicts, forced laborers, accused terrorists, and aboriginal guides at risk for erasure—whose worlds are threatened by the political and environmental catastrophes that define our age and stretch back to the horrors of the past. His latest work, The Living Sea of Waking Dreams, is no exception. Here, a family’s otherworldly vanishing allegorically mirrors the wildfires that have so recently scorched the face of Australia beyond recognition. The Guardian writes of this “magical realist tale of ecological anguish”: “Writers the world over are grappling with a version of this question: in the face of so much devastation, so much terror, what can fiction possibly achieve? The Living Sea of Waking Dreams is his emphatic, wrenching answer.”

Flanagan closes this year’s festival with the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture, delivering a profound meditation on the contagiousness of fear, the potentials and limits of literature to incite moral reckoning, and new, insidious modes of censorship that pose critical challenges to free expression. He will be joined in conversation by Alexandra Schwartz, an award-winning writer on arts and culture for The New Yorker.

This digital event will start at 8pm ET / 5pm PT. If you have any questions, please visit our FAQs.

Presented in collaboration with Scuppernong Books.

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Richard Flanagan headshotRichard Flanagan is a Tasmanian novelist whose books have received numerous honors and are published in 42 countries. He won the Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North. His latest novel is The Living Sea of Waking Dreams.

Alexandra Schwartz headshotAlexandra Schwartz is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a winner of the National Book Critics Circle’s Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.

About Scuppernong Books

Scuppernong Books is a general interest/literary bookstore and cafe in Greensboro, NC. The store opened on December 21, 2013 and has been an essential part of the rebirth of downtown Greensboro ever since. Additionally, Scuppernong Books hosts hundreds of events a year, bringing in writers from around the world, the country, and the state.

In 2017, Scuppernong Books was instrumental in the formation of the Greensboro Literary Organization, a separate nonprofit organization that stages the annual Greensboro Bound literary festival and brings authors into Guilford County Schools through its Authors Engaging Students program.

About the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture

The Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture is the culminating event of our Festival. Flanagan closes this week of literary celebration with a profound meditation on the contagiousness of fear, the limits of literature to incite moral reckoning, and the new, insidious modes of censorship that pose critical challenges to free expression today.

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