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Publishing 'titan' Louise Adler to take over the reins at Writers’ Week

Festivals

Prominent Australian publishing figure Louise Adler has been appointed as the next director of Adelaide Writers’ Week, taking over from outgoing director Jo Dyer to helm the 2023-25 events.

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Adelaide Festival chair Judy Potter described Adler ­– publisher-at-large for Hachette Australia and Vice Chancellor’s Professorial Fellow at Monash University – as “a titan of the Australian publishing industry”.

“Her experience, networks and energy across a decades-long career in publishing and literature is unsurpassed,” Potter said, in announcing the appointment today.

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

“We are confident Louise’s tremendous breadth of knowledge of fiction and non-fiction writers and readers will build upon the outstanding success of Jo Dyer’s custodianship of Adelaide Writers’ Week in recent years.”

Adler was CEO and publisher-in-chief of Melbourne University Publishing for 17 years before resigning alongside several board members in 2019. She also presented ABC Radio National’s Arts Today and was an arts editor The Age and editor of Australian Book Review. Her other roles have included chairing the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards (Fiction and Poetry) and president of the Australian Publishers Association.

In a statement saying she was honoured to be taking on the role with Adelaide Writers’ Week, Adler shared some of her memories of the event: “I first came to Writers’ Week in 1972 as a schoolgirl and heard Allen Ginsberg read Howl; at the same festival I shared a hotel lift with Mikis Theodorakis and learnt the meaning of the verb ‘to swoon’.

“In Australia’s bicentennial year, 1988, Adelaide’s Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden was the setting for the launch of my first issue of Australian Book Review. At an unusually wet Writers’ Week in 1992, I queued for coffee in the mud behind Alice Walker, who liked my shoes.

“The pleasure of listening to writers talk about their craft is like reading: it is at once an intimate and a deeply social experience. Cultural matchmaking of writers and ideas that matter, has been the hallmark of my career. The opportunity to share that pleasure with a community of readers was irresistible”.

Current Adelaide Writers’ Week director Jo Dyer announced mid-year that she would be leaving her role after the 2022 event, her fourth at the helm. Eighty writers have already been announced as part of next year’s line-up for March 5-10, with Australian guests expected to appear in person and overseas writers taking part in sessions via Zoom.

Adler will begin in the role at the end of the 2022 Writers’ Week.

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