Karen Viggers Meet the Author

22 Feb 2024

Karen Viggers will be in conversation with Alex Sloan on her new novel Sidelines, a fast-paced contemporary novel from the bestselling author of The Orchardist’s Daughter. A teenage sports game descends into a violent brawl after a controversial line call in a suburban junior soccer game. Some onlookers are shocked. But others saw it coming. Rivalry, parental pressure, coaching bias, inequity, and many other factors have played a part in turning Saturday mornings into a pressure cooker.

Thirteen-year-old Audrey is a talented young football player. But does she want to play for Australia or does she just want to please her father, Ben, whose own thwarted sporting career looms large in his ambitions for his daughter? Audrey’s mother, Jonica, doesn’t know whether to be more concerned about her anxious daughter, her overbearing husband, or the only other girl on the team, Katerina, who is causing trouble on and off the field. And Katerina’s mother, Carmen, is so busy looking for opportunities to give Katerina more game time that she fails to notice what is really capturing her daughter’s attention. When Griffin, a naturally gifted player with spectacular skills, arrives, the tension within the team reaches boiling point. But who is going to crack first – the parents or the players?

Karen Viggers has said is so much pressure on children in today’s society, at school, from social media, from peers and family. “And then if there’s pressure at sport too, the one thing they probably started just for enjoyment, no wonder things can go badly.”

‘Essential – and thrilling – reading for all parents.’ Kate Mildenhall. ‘Sidelines is a riveting novel. It takes our jittery, intensely competitive era and unpicks our self-deceptions until they bleed.’ Jane Caro

Karen Viggers is a Canberra writer, veterinarian, podcaster and literary critic who loves nature, bushwalking and animals. She is the author of four novels, which have been bestsellers in France as well as Australia: The Stranding, The Lightkeeper’s Wife, The Grass Castle and The Orchardist’s Daughter. Her work is set in Australian landscapes and explores dying with dignity, displacement of First Peoples, wildlife conservation, clear-felling of native forests, and now, junior sport. She is co-host with Irma Gold of the Secrets From the Green Room podcast.

Alex Sloan AM has been a journalist for over 30 years, including as a long-time broadcaster with the ABC. Alex, who was named Canberra Citizen of the Year in 2017, is deputy chair of The Australia Institute, a director of The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and deputy chair of The ACT Writers Centre. Alex is a regular conversationalist in the Meet the Author series.

The vote of thanks will be given by Emma Pocock.

This event is in association with Harry Hartog Bookshop. Books will be available for purchase on the evening in the Cultural Centre foyer. Pre-event book signings will be available from 5.30pm, and available again after the event.



Registration is required for this event.

Accessible parking spaces are available around campus should you require them.

To help keep everyone safe, please ensure that you are familiar with, and follow, the advice from ACT Health regarding COVID-19.

If you do not feel well, please refrain from attending this event.

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podcast will be made available after the event.

Symposium by University House Wine bar (Shop 13, 152 University Avenue, Acton, which is just next to the Kambri cultural centre) will now be open for dining after meet the author events. Food and wine details at https://unihouse.anu.edu.au/eat/symposium/. No bookings necessary.

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