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Bill Bowtell and Norman Swan

Literary Dinner – Bill Bowtell in conversation with Dr Norman Swan and MCed by Simon Burke

Literary Dinner – Bill Bowtell in conversation with Dr Norman Swan and MCed by Simon Burke – Monday 15 March, from 7pm

Soi 25 Restaurant, 296-300 Victoria St, Darlinghurst

We are pleased to return to the chic and spacious restaurant – Soi 25 – for this new literary dinner. This event has been made possible due to the support of Monash University Press and also the City of Sydney Night Time Diversification Program.

In-between enjoying a delicious Thai feast, Bill Bowtell, author of the new book Unmasked: The Politics of Pandemics. will be in conversation with Dr. Norman Swan. Actor/entertainer Simon Burke will be Master of Ceremonies for the evening.

Important Note: there is no physical ticket. Both the purchaser and The Bookshop retain a record of the ticket purchase. We need all names of those attending and relevant details (dietary requirements, seating preferences) for our door list. You will be ticked off the door list on the night when you arrive.

Pre-Dinner Shopping:

If you buy a ticket to the dinner you are entitled to a 15% discount on purchases in-store or online from Friday 12th to Monday 15 March. If you want to shop online we will provide you with a discount code. You are certainly very welcome to come to the shop prior to the dinner. Note – Soi 25 is a 900 metre walk from The Bookshop (10 to 15 minutes depending on your pace). It would be a five minute walk from Kings Cross train station.

We will have copies of Unmasked: The Politics of Pandemics for sale on the night and Bill Bowtell will be available to sign copies – this will be coordinated in a socially distanced fashion so that everyone feels comfortable. We will also have a small selection of other new titles available to peruse and purchase.

About the speakers:

Bill Bowtell AO is one of Australia’s foremost health policy strategists. As senior adviser to the Australian health minister, Bill Bowtell was an architect of Australia’s world-renowned response to the emergence of HIV/AIDS which brought together affected communities, researchers, clinicians and politicians, changing the course of the Australian pandemic and saving thousands of lives. For over four decades, Bill Bowtell has served in many roles and capacities at the intersection of health, development and politics in Australia and internationally. He served as a senior adviser to Australian prime minister Paul Keating. From 2005, Bill Bowtell led the advocacy organisation Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to increase funding and support for the Global Fund. Since early 2020, Bill Bowtell has written, broadcast and tweeted extensively on the Australian and international response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Norman Swan was trained in paediatrics, and one of the first medically qualified journalists in Australia, with a broadcast career spanning more than 30 years. He currently hosts Radio National’s The Health Report and co-hosts Coronacast. He also reports on 7.30 and is a guest reporter on Four Corners; appears on The Drum and is an occasional host of Radio National Breakfast. In addition to being an active journalist and health broadcaster, Dr Swan has a deep strategic knowledge of the Australian healthcare system and is committed to evidence-based approaches to help young people, which is why he sits on the board of the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth. He was also the co-founder of Tonic Media Network, a health channel that plays in GPs’ waiting rooms.

Simon Burke made his acting debut at age 13 in the 1976 classic feature film The Devil’s Playground, winning the Australian Film Institute Best Actor award. Simon has appeared in over 130 stage productions in Australia and the UK. In London’s West End he has starred in The Sound of Music, Phantom of the Opera, A Little Night Music opposite Dame Judi Dench, La Cage Aux Folles and in the European premieres of the Australian classics Holding the Man and When the Rain Stops Falling. Australian musical theatre highlights highlights include Les Miserables, Anything Goes, Chicago, Mary Poppins and Pippin. Simon has appeared in countless television productions including Deep Water, Rake, Hustle, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, The Alice, Brides of Christ, Scales of Justice, Water Rats, South Pacific and Grass Roots, and for 25 years was one of ABC TV”s Play School’s best-loved presenters. His feature film credits include Passion, Pitch Black, Travelling Light and the forthcoming Super Awesome.

The menu for the banquet style dinner is as follows:


– Betel Leaf with Prawn and Scallop (can swap with crispy chicken toppings if a guest can’t have seafood)

– Satay Chicken

Main Course

Green Papaya Salad with prawn (can do vegan)

– Crispy Pork with Chinese Broccoli

– Red curry with duck

– Rice

All the above can be done Gluten Free

If anyone is unable to eat one of these 3 meat or seafood options, an alternate dish is available – Crispy Chicken Cashew Nut.

Vegetarian Option


– Betel Leaf with Tofu

– Vegetable Spring Roll

– Steamed Tofu mushroom

 Main Course

– Veg Green papaya Salad

– Stir fired Chilli jam with veg and tofu

– Yellow Curry Vegetable & Tofu

– Rice

Special dietary requirements can be catered for but we need to be informed well in advance – at the time of booking preferably. We recommend you contact The Bookshop Darlinghurst on 02 9331 1103 or by email

The restaurant is BYO and so you may bring your own wine along. However, the restaurant is fully licensed and has an extensive wine and cocktail list, so if you prefer you can buy wine and drinks from the restaurant. This is certainly encouraged and would be a great support to the restaurant. However, please note all drinks must be paid for as they are ordered.

If you want to check the restaurant’s Drinks Menu or other details about the restaurant in advance, you can find it at this link –

The seating for the event can be flexible so that everyone is seated in a safe and comfortable way. Tables can be for two or up to twelve people. In terms of sharing the food, four or multiples of four (eight, twelve) is the optimum number – though dietary requirements may cause some issues there. If you are booking for two, you can be seated at a table for two if you prefer. Or if you wish to sit with others and meet new people that can also be arranged. If you are booking as a single, you will end up sitting with others – possibly some Bookshop staff members or other single diners.

If you have a group of friends who all wish to be seated together, it will be simpler if one person buys the tickets for the entire group. If tickets are purchased individually or in smaller groups, please ensure clear directions are provided re the seating preferences.

If you are booking for several people, we need the names of all the people in your party. We will have a door list at the restaurant and will be ticking people off there. We will also need the names in case there is a special dietary requirement to be attached to anyone. It will not be necessary to bring your proof of purchase (whether online or in-store) on the night. We will have confirmed everything prior and if we have everyone’s details that will be adequate

Any enquiries about the event should be directed to The Bookshop Darlinghurst (02 9331 1103) and not to the restaurant. We recommend you telephone us then everything can be discussed and arranged more simply.

Note: during Covid-19, planning anything in advance can be extremely challenging. Therefore if anyone is unable to attend on the day, we are happy to provide a full refund of the ticket cost. Or if you wish to support The Bookshop, we can provide you with a Gift Voucher instead that you can spend on books, DVDs or other items.

If you should feel at all unwell on the day with cold/flu symptoms or believe you may have come into contact with someone exposed to Covid-19, we would ask that you not attend the event. We will issue a refund and hope to see you at our next literary dinner in 2021.




Bill Bowtell and Kevin Rudd

Bill Bowtell & Kevin Rudd – In the National Interest


Join Bill Bowtell, the Hon. Kevin Rudd and Fran Kelly for a conversation around the new essay series In the National Interest.

In Unmasked: the Politics of Pandemics, Bill Bowtell draws on his four decades of experience in the global and local politics of public health to examine why some countries got it right with coronavirus while others collapsed into misery and chaos. He looks closely at the critical weeks when poor planning brought Australia to the brink of disaster, until the Australian people forced their governments to put public health before politics. Unmasked reveals how and why our politicians failed us during the greatest public health crisis of this century to date.

In The Case for Courage, the Honourable Kevin Rudd writes that we can’t understand the current predicament of our democracy without recognising the central role of Murdoch’s national media monopoly. He lays out three key tasks required for the Australian Labor party to be returned to office; Labor must significantly broaden its political base; demolish the entire rationale for the conservative political project now that the Liberal Party has abandoned its position on debt, deficit and government intervention in the economy; and put forward a clear plan dealing with the challenges ahead. Now is the time for women and men of courage to act.

Free RSVPs essential to receive Zoom link.






Bill Bowtell in Conversation

Please note: This is an online event.

Readings is delighted to be hosting an evening with Bill Bowtell, to discuss his recent essay Unmasked: The Politics of Pandemics. Bowtell will be in conversation with microbiologist Brendan Crabb and former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and current leader of the investigation into WHO’s COVID-19 response, Helen Clark.

In Unmasked: the Politics of Pandemics, Bowtell draws on four decades of experience in the global and local politics of public health to examine why some countries got it right with coronavirus while others collapsed into misery and chaos.

This event is online and ticket entry is $5 per person, which is redeemable off purchase of the book when purchasing in store or online from the Readings website. Attendees will be sent a promo code to claim $5 off the price of the book when they book their ticket. This code will be valid until 24 hours after the event has ended. when purchasing in store, simply mention the discount code or show your digital counter to receive the discount.

Please book here.

How to ‘attend’ a virtual event at Readings

This event commences online at 6.30pm using the video conferencing platform Zoom.

To book for this event, you must provide your email address.

To ensure the Zoom event stays private, participants will be emailed a unique zoom link and a password 30 minutes before the event begins on the day of the event. Please check your email.

All bookings for online events will be closed one hour before the event begins.

You do not need to have a Zoom account to join a meeting, but mobile users will need to download the Zoom app for their device. Desktop and laptop users can either download the Zoom application or access the event via their web browser.




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