Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Auckland Writers & Readers Festival 

Before a large and happy audience  comprising media, trade, authors, friends and a small army of volunteers  the Festival's Artistic Director Anne O'Brien (right) revealed its full and most impressive May 2012 line-up. It comprises more than 100 leading international and New Zealand writers and thinkers, including prizewinners Jeffrey Eugenides and Roddy Doyle (photo left by Patrick Bolger); cosmologist and public intellectual Lawrence Krauss, prizewinning Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings, spy fiction author Dame Stella Rimington, New Zealand icon Maurice Gee and bestselling international crime writer Peter James (right).

Programmed to take place 9-13 May in the heart of Auckland, and combining a dedicated two-day schools’ programme with three days and nights of public sessions, it will feature a diverse programme of fiction, science, religion, poetry, journalism, history and the arts, from literary offerings to popular fare.
“This is a programme designed to reach out across the country, providing stimulation, insight and pleasure to all New Zealanders, no matter what their reading interests.  With a stellar line-up in and around the Festival’s Aotea Centre home, delivered with the flair and polish for which we have become known, there is something for everyone,” says Artistic Director Anne O’Brien.

Twenty-three international writers are confirmed to attend. The full list includes: prizewinning novelists Roddy Doyle (Ire) and Jeffrey Eugenides (US); English thriller writers Stella Rimington and Peter James; fine fiction authors Sebastian Barry (Ire), Jesmyn Ward (US), Charlotte Wood (UK) and A.D. Miller (UK); Australian diva Kathy Lette (left), cosmologist and public intellectual Lawrence Krauss (US); Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings; biographer Caroline Moorehead, international economy consultant Chandran Nair, educational psychologist Barbara Arrowsmith Young (Can), evolution theorist Danny Vendramini (Aus) and essayists Geoff Dyer (UK) and Martin Edmond (Aus); and leading children’s writers Oliver Jeffers, Eoin Colfer, Mal Peet and Emily Rodda.  Spoken word performers are the Tony Award winning Lemon Anderson (US) and Australian Poetry Slam Champion Luka Lesson (Aus) who will light up the stage.
The distinguished New Zealand line-up is headlined by a rare appearance with much-loved Maurice Gee, the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival’s inaugural Honoured New Zealand Writer.  Free tickets to this session can be booked for under-18s. 
Gee will be joined by some of our finest including Dame Anne Salmond, Dame Fiona Kidman, Witi Ihimaera, Emily Perkins, Anthony McCarten, Brian Boyd, Ian Wedde, Lloyd Geering, Anne Kennedy, Greg McGee and the inimitable Rhys Darby.
There will be new sessions at The University of Auckland and the Auckland Art Gallery and opportunities to hear from leading arts practitioners including Dick Frizzell (right), Tusi Tamasese, Doris de Pont and Nathan & Joel Haines.
Other sessions will touch on filmmaking, literary prizes, contemporary Maori literature, the poetry of Tuwhare, the history of Remuera and much more, as well as catered special events including Lunch with Dame Stella Rimington at Soul Bar, a pre-Mothers’ Day High Tea at Auckland’s Langham Hotel, a Girls’ Night Out adventure combining Cable Bay wine tastings and canapés in a session with Kathy Lette, a Business Breakfast with international consultant Chandran Nair at the Langham Hotel, and the highly popular Poetry Idol.
Tickets for all sessions go on sale 22 March starting at $15 at www.buytickets.co.nz  

The full programme will be available mid-morning Wednesday and at that stage I will provide a link here.


Mark Hubbard said...

Maurice Gee is my literary hero. And that, through his adult fiction, will never change. I would love, love, love to be at his session. Alas, May, not possible.

He's been so reticent for so long, and now he stops writing he does the public thing.

If anybody reading this thread is going, see if he's open to some sort of emotional blackmail to get him back writing again. That would be something.

Craig Ranapia said...

If anybody reading this thread is going, see if he's open to some sort of emotional blackmail to get him back writing again. That would be something.

Heh, it would. Don't think I'm speaking out of school to say that when I put the very idea to artistic director Anne O'Brien last night, I got a distinct whiff of the Wodehouse aunt. :)

More seriously, I think it's fair to say that O'Brien was (pleasantly) surprised as anyone that Gee accepted. (It's just part of the job to hear the words "sorry, no" an awful lot.) But this a great occasion to honour an elder when he's still around to hear it. In the literary/arts community, as in life, we're pretty crap at doing that.