It’s been already a couple of weeks since the Sydney Writers festival took place and yet I still have a lingering feeling of excitement. It is, after all, one of my favorite events taking place in this glorious city. Highly organised and fully packed with inspiring and exceptional talks by the numerous writers attending, the Sydney Writers Festival is a week-long ode to creativity.
Held every year in May, the Sydney Writers festival hosts more than 300 events in the heritage wharves of Walsh Bay while bringing together a wonderful array of writers from different backgrounds and forms. It is therefore no wonder that it attracts an audience of over 100.000 people each time
While every event offered intriguing insight into the art of literary creativity and the ups and downs of working within this exhilarating and at times overwhelming field, there were several which captivated the imagination of many. Among several the sold out events were Paula Hawkins’ talk on writing her best seller The girl on the Train, Gloria Steinem’s Life on the Road and a mini conference with the translator of Elena Ferrante’s novels, fittingly called Ferrante Fever.
One of my favorite talks was the one held at Pier 2/3 within the Club Stage. Best seller author Susan Elderkin gave an introduction to her life, from her time as an English major student to her career as a bibliotherapist at the School of Life in London and as a co-writer of The Novel cure: An A- Z of Literary Medicine.
What exactly is Bibliotherapy? And, what on earth is a literary medicine?
Elderkin explains that while we are reading there exists a neurological mechanism that allows us to experience some, if not all of, the emotions felt by the characters of the book that we are reading. The emphatic connection established between the reader and his fictional counterpart is what moves, drives, and inspire him in embarking or facing certain aspects of his life.
The book is, as the authors writes in the introduction, a medical handbook with a twist. According to Susan Elderkin and her co-author Ella Berthoud, to every malaise afflicting us (both physically and mentally) there is a book which might help us to overcome them. Feeling like you are trapped in a relationship, betrayed or in need of cheating? Have a look at Anna Karenina. Feeling apathetic? The Postman Always Rings Twice might be the perfect cure. Are you afraid of dying or of death in general? Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude may give you the right answers.
Of course, there are several cures to each ailment. Sometimes the remedy is best taken in the form of an audio book or read aloud with some friends. Whatever the book prescribed it will definitely be a fantastic new literary adventure.