Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
New Zealand’s Largest Literary Festival Launches Its Most Expansive Programme Yet
Auckland Writers Festival takes to the sea, the pavement, festival halls and a glittering
pop-up venue in its most ambitious programme yet, which sees a record 42
international writers, historians, scientists, radicals and thinkers team with
the world’s largest showcase of New Zealand literary talent in Auckland city
from 16-21 May.
Scotland’s Ian Rankin
- one of the world’s greatest detective novelists features, as does Scottish
writer, television director and satirical creator of The Thick of It and Veep –
Armando Iannucci; US 2016 Man Booker
Prize-winning novelist Paul Beatty;
US feminist iconsSusan Faludi and Roxane Gay;
Kiwi medical doctor and poet Glenn
Colquhoun; US Academy Award-winning writer, George Saunders, whose novel Lincoln
in the Bardo has just debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list; three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner, US
foreign correspondent and writer Thomas
Friedman; multi-award winning English novelist and journalist John Lanchester; Commonwealth
Prize-winning New Zealand novelist Catherine
Chidgey; US scientist James Gleick
and his compatriot, cosmologist Lawrence
Krauss; New Zealand’s most respected theologian, 99-year-old Lloyd Geering on stage with broadcaster John Campbell; Man Booker Prize-winning Irish novelist Anne Enright;New Zealand/English actress, playwright and
novelist Stella Duffy; Canadian
transgender writer, film maker and songwriter Ivan Coyote; outspoken Australian broadcaster and memoirist Stan Grant; English Masterchef judge and food critic for The Observer, Jay Rayner;local best-selling
novelist Jenny Pattrick;poet and novelist Apirana Taylor of Te Whanau-a-Apanui, Ngati Porou and Taranaki descent. British
Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy
returns, as does sensational English actress Rebecca Vaughan with a solo retelling ofJane Eyre, followingFestival sell-outs of Austen’s Women (2014) and Mrs Dalloway (2015).
The Festival has
grown exponentially and is now the largest literary event in New Zealand,
hosting more than 160 writers over six
days of ideas, readings, debates, stand-up poetry, literary theatre, children’s
writers and free public and family events. Last year, Festival attendance
topped 65,000 and many events sold out.
director, Anne O’Brien, says the timing is right to expand the festival’s
“The last few years has seen unprecedented
interest in the Festival from audiences who travel not only from all over
Auckland, but around the country and abroad to listen to globally lauded
writers and ideas men and women who deepen our thinking, make us laugh, move us
and help us to make sense of this increasingly complicated world.
thrilled to launch the most varied and expansive programme in the Festival’s
appears early, on 29 April, in the Auckland Town Hall. The Glaswegian
greatly admires Charles Dickens and the Pope, but not former UK prime minister,
the “bum-faced southern ponce” David Cameron. Expect an evening of unbridled
hilarity from this master of satire.
The Heartland Festival Room - known to many as the Pacific
Crystal Palace - takes pride of place for the first time in the centre of Aotea
Square across the festival period. Audiences will be treated to entertainment
through the day and late into the night, including Graham Norton style ‘on the
couch’ salons hosted by long-time writing collaborators Chris Parker and Tom
Sainsbury, and playwright, actress and OBE knighted novelist Stella Duffy.
Heartland Bank is a new, platinum sponsor for the Festival and Ms O’Brien says
its support is wonderful news for the arts and a tribute to Heartland’s
vision for New Zealand.
is a real synergy between our respective brands, with our roots stretching the
breadth of New Zealand and our shared ambitions to enrich people’s lives.”
The Festival takes to the gulf on a charter boat all day on
Wednesday 17 May with the author of The Story of the Hauraki Gulf, Raewyn Peart. Hear the fascinating
story of this vulnerable territory whilst cruising past Rangitoto, Motutapu,
Motuihe and the Noises, around the back of Waiheke, down to Rotoroa Island, where
passengers can alight, before returning to downtown Auckland.
Take a Walk on High Street with the Festival
on Friday 19 May and see the inner city boulevard in a different light, as you
go on a word trail where more than 20 writers perform Insta-essays, music,
spoken word, games and theatre.
country’s premier book honours - the Ockham
New Zealand Book Awards - is the first public event of the programme at the
Aotea Centre on Tuesday 16 May. Come and see who takes home
the $50,000 Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize, and congratulate the winners of the
Poetry category, the Illustrated Non-Fiction category and the inaugural Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General
Non-Fiction with comedienne and writer Michele A’Court as MC.
Auckland’s brightest spoken word artists take to the stage with three globally
lauded performer greats, in an unprecedented showcase of talent in Best of the Best: Spoken Word Showcase
at the Town Hall on Saturday 20 May.
most influential food and drink columnist, The
Observer’s restaurant critic, Masterchef
judge and author, Jay Rayner, tells
us if it is ever OK to covet thy neighbour’s oxen or eat with your hands in The Ten Food Commandments on Friday 19
May at the Aotea Centre; and entertains at a Masu lunch the day before.
Festival week sees
a corner of Aotea Square come alive each night with text projections in Pop Poetry: Love Letters, in
association with Auckland Council and the Waitematā Local Board. A sparkling
collection of intrepid writers join the fun, with one a night writing live but
anonymously and only revealing themselves as they sign off...
Join UK writer John
Lanchester, Australian broadcaster Stan
Grant, New Zealand writer Paula Morris and Pulitzer Prize-winning
journalist and author Susan Faludi
in The University of Auckland Festival
Forum, which this year discusses The
Great Divide on Wednesday 17 May in the Aotea Centre. The time is now to
debate such hotly debated issues as wealth and poverty, race, gender and
a sell-out, this year’s Festival Gala Night
is True Stories Told Live: The Heart of
the Matter on Thursday 18 May at the Aotea Centre. Gina Cole (NZ); Glenn
Colquhoun (NZ); Ivan Coyote (Canada),
Anne Enright (Ireland); Lloyd Geering (NZ); Ha Jin (China); Ian Rankin (Scotland); and Mpho
Tutu van Furth (South Africa) tell us a seven minute true story propless
and scriptless. Expect these stories from the heart to linger with you long
after the lights go down.
British Block-buster children’s
literary star, creator of Charlie and Lola, Clarice Bean and Ruby Redfort, Lauren Child, will have the under 10s
enraptured on Saturday morning in the Aotea Centre and on Sunday morning we
celebrate everyone’s favourite magician’s 20th birthday in Harry Potter Hijinks with Professor Frankie including spells duels,
quidditch demos, trivia questions and prizes. Family Day runs all day Sunday 21 May in the Heartland Festival
Room in Aotea Square and in the Herald Theatre supported by the Freemason’s
Foundation. Young readers will be treated to free readings, performances,
storytelling with presenters including Tanya
Batt, Sacha Cotter & Josh Morgan,
Carol Ann Duffy, Toby Morris, Simon Pollard and Apirana
finale on Sunday afternoon is an hour with Honoured
New Zealand Writer, Dame Fiona Kidman. Respected for her warmth, humour and
insight, Fiona Kidman has published more than thirty works—fiction, non-fiction, short stories, poetry
and plays to date.
Join us in this free event paying tribute to one of our finest writers.
Ms O’Brien says it’s a privilege to present such diverse and
talented writers from here and around the world in Auckland settings.
everyone from aged two to 102, to come along and engage with words and ideas
offered in song, stand-up, performances, prose, in debates and conversations,
at venues from boats and tents to galleries and theatres.”
The 2017 Auckland
Writers Festival programme is launched at an invitation-only event at the
Auckland Art Gallery on the evening of Wednesday 15 March.
A preferential booking period for Festival
Patrons and Friends follows, with public tickets on sale from 9.00am, Friday 17
March from www.ticketmaster.co.nz.
The Auckland Writers Festival
warmly thanks new Platinum Partner: Heartland Bank; Gold Partners: The
University of Auckland, Freemasons Foundation, Ockham, SPARK, Creative New
Zealand and ATEED; and all our Silver, Bronze and Supporting Partners.
We are also enormously
grateful to our Festival patrons for their enthusiasm and generosity.