Louise Adler Publishing House Named Director of Adelaide Writers’ Week | Adelaide Festival

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Melbourne-based publishing house Louise Adler has been named the new director of Adelaide Writers’ Week.

And the new director of Australia’s largest free annual literary festival has already pledged a lively selection of “literary luminaries, next generation writers and hardy perennials” when she takes office in March of next year. .

Adler will take over at the culmination of the 2022 event in March, which takes place annually in tandem with the Adelaide Arts Festival.

Considered one of the world’s foremost and longest-running writers ‘festivals, Adelaide Writers’ Week has hosted many literary greats over its more than 50-year history, including Ian McEwan. , Margaret Atwood, Isabel Allende, Vikram Seth, Margaret Drabble and JM Coetzee.

Adelaide Festival President Judy Potter described Adler on Friday as “a titan” of the Australian publishing industry.

“His experience, networks and energy over a decades-long career in publishing and literature are unmatched,” Potter said in a statement.

“She is impeccably qualified and a true leader in her field who has changed attitudes in the community, influenced public debate, challenged public opinion and given voice to critical contemporary issues.”

Adler has resigned from her post as managing editor at Hachette, a post she had held for two years following her controversial resignation after a 15-year term as managing director of Melbourne University Press. Several members of the MUP board, including former NSW premier Bob Carr, resigned at the same time, following a decision by the publisher to restrict the scope of his publications.

She replaces Jo Dyer, who will present her final Adelaide Writers Week in March.

This has been a tumultuous year for Dyer, who in June was awarded costs, which could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, in federal court over a successful action to prevent Sue Chrysanthou from representing Christian Porter. , on the grounds that she had previously advised Dyer in a different matter.

Former Attorney General Porter was suing the CBA for libel over a story of historic rape allegations contained in a file sent to the Prime Minister and another parliamentarian. Porter vigorously denies the allegations and the case was settled in June after the CBA released a statement saying it did not intend to suggest Porter was guilty. Dyer was a close friend of the complainant, who committed suicide in 2020.

Adler is a former editor of the Australian Book Review, a former editor of arts and entertainment for the age, a former presenter of the Arts Today program of ABC Radio National and a past president of the Australian Publishers Association .

The Melbourne-born bibliophile has served on many other boards, including the Monash University board, the Melbourne International Arts Festival and the Australian Center for Contemporary Art.

A scene from a previous Adelaide Writers’ Week event. Photography: Shane Reid

Adler has been frequently present at many Adelaide Writers Weeks, having served on several panels and conducted author interviews over the years.

She told Guardian Australia that she clearly remembers her very first festival experience in 1972 – when the star attractions were Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the literary duo who fought a high-profile California obscenity trial over the poem. epic by Ginsberg Howl 15 years earlier.

“I had a mother who thought raising a girl was the most sacred thing in life, so I couldn’t believe she took me out of school in March to go to a festival. », She remembers.

“There was Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti in front of me at Adelaide Town Hall, and Ginsberg read Howl… it was so memorable, I was in awe.”

At the same festival, the 16-year-old who declared herself an “aggressive feminist baby” was reduced to a gushing teenager after finding herself next to Mikis Theodorakis in a hotel elevator.

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It was the first of many memorable Adler Writers Festivals for Adler. Highlights from other years include the line-up behind Alice Walker.

“Wow, great shoes,” exclaimed the Pulitzer-winning writer of The Color Purple, eyeing the Australian’s mustard and black polka-dot flats (“no, I don’t have a shoe fetish” ).

Adler’s assiduous participation in the Writers’ Festival over the years has revealed many hidden literary gems to her and introduced her to great writers she previously ignored, the most memorable being Pulitzer Prize-winning Canadian author Carol Shields. (The Stone Diaries) at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival.

“I will always remember that thrill of discovering a writer I didn’t know in Writers’ Week, and I think that’s one of the things he’s there for,” she said.

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Photograph: Tim Robberts / Stone RF

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“Yes, you should meet your literary idols … but you should also be able to meet new writers that you have never met, who intrigue you so much that you just have to rush straight to the festival bookstore and buy all of them. their books. “

Adler said she would start planning for the 2023 festival early next year, assuming the restrictions and uncertainties of Covid-19 would no longer be with us.

“I am counting on the end of the blockages and on the opening up of the world,” she said. “And I think by 2023 everything will be fine. I am optimistic. You can’t be a book fan without being an optimist.


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