Bookworms and bibliophiles from across the globe are in Sydney to celebrate a week-long festival dedicated to lying.
The Sydney Writer's Festival features more than 200 events and almost 400 panellists; ranging from authors to journalists, and various types of content creators.
The theme of this year's program is "Lie to Me".
Among the first events, was Monday's (April 29th's) announcement of the 2019 Premier's Literary Awards.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the awards with some of the recipients returning to the State Library on Tuesday, for a panel discussion moderated by senior awards judge Suzanne Leal.
Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Michelle de Kretser, Judith Bishop, and Billy Griffiths joining us now in discussion of some of their previous Awards and what they mean to them. @SydWritersFest#NSWPLA #swf #SydneyWritersFestival @CentralNewsUTS pic.twitter.com/RxjozABpAy— Mark Kriedemann (@KriedemannMark) April 30, 2019
Michael Mohammed Ahmad draws on his experiences as both an editor and a teacher, who's worked with thousands of young people and heard "incredible and frightening stories".
Speaking as the winner of the Multicultural NSW Award for The Lebs, a novel about a young Lebanese-Australian man struggling to find his place in the world, he was critical of the portrayal of Arab-Australian Muslims in the media and in politics.
[They have] been demonised... as gang-rapists, drug-dealers, gangsters, drive-by shooters and terrorist conspirators.
Mr Ahmad believes there is a "highly idealised" and "fantasised" image of writing which undermines the development of creative storytelling and critical thinking.
"I set myself this task - I don't always achieve it - but I set myself the task [that] every single sentence I write, has to be an original sentence that hasn't been written before," he said.
Sri-Lankan born Australian novelist Michelle de Kretser, who won the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction for The Life to Come, said she's proud of the increasing recognition for multicultural writers - noting that more publishers are commissioning books written by first or second generation migrants.
As a multiple award-winner, she also recognises the frustrations of short-listed writers who don't win.
Most writers find it really hard to come so close to a large amount of money, and [then] miss out.
"It's hard. People want to be supportive of their fellow writers... you just have to practice a 'lizard's smile'," she said.
Poet Judith Bishop is a well-travelled linguistic scholar who has published several French poetry collections.
She holds a particular interest in the use of rhythm, pitch and tone to express meaning and emotion through a different language.
"I think that studying it formally in some way helped refine my ears for these things, even though as poets we translate them very differently onto the page," she said.
Ms Bishop, who won the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry for Interval, paid tribute to one of Australia's most celebrated poets, Les Murray - who died on Monday aged 80.
Ms Bishop described him as "one of the great poets of the English language [who] has been recognised as such", before reading aloud from her favourite Murray poem: An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow.
Historian, Citizenship and Globalisation researcher Billy Griffiths, described his Book of the Year, Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia, as a "passion project".
Told from an Indigenous perspective, he said it was difficult as a historian, to construct a book about archaeology.
"I devoted years in trying to learn the knowledge of archaeology, to translate what the craft of archaeology is doing to my discipline of history," he said.
All the winners who shared in the $305,000 Premier's Literary Awards can be found on the State Library of NSW website.