Oct 08 2011

Benjamin Law beat me at arm-wrestling


My favourite part of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival so far has been the opportunity to meet so many young authors, who, as it turns out, are just normal people. (I think they become less so as they get older.) I had the chance to talk to Benjamin Law, a young Australian author whose memoir, The Family Law, is about his unconventional and off-colour family. He’s also a surprisingly good arm-wrestler, which I shamefully admit to finding out the hard way.

Who would believe this guy can arm wrestle?

Benjamin has been to more that 30 writers festivals, and spent a few minutes with me today talking about writers’ festivals and this one in particular.

What is the purpose of a readers and writers festival?

So that readers can engage with the writers directly, so that you can discover your new favourite writer, and get blissfully drunk in idyllic surroundings.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you at a writers festival?

A huge group of young girls swamped me after an event – they all read the magazine that I write for and wanted my autograph. It was surreal. That moment was then turned into a cartoon for Crikey by an artist called First Dog on the Moon.

Who have you been most excited to meet at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival?

I caught the bus over with Tariq Ali, the polemicist and writer. I really liked meeting Meredith Costain, I’ve met Phillip Gwynne before, he’s cool. Meg Mundell is very funny. Clementine Ford is not on the programme but very cool.

What has been your best moment of the festival so far?

Hanging out, bumming cigarettes off of DBC Pierre and getting shouted drinks by Paul Kelly. Everyone’s trying to keep their shit together when he’s at the table.

How many pushups can you do?

Usually I do 4 sets of 25, but if I just did one set in a go I guess I could go to 35 or 40. I don’t know. I’ve never tried to just go. Why are you asking me this?

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