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.
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Globally Recognised Writers and Thinkers Feature at 2018 Auckland Writers Festival
The country’s largest literary showcase, the Auckland
Writers Festival, brings a world of stories and ideas to the city from the 15th
to the 20th May, offering laughter, knowledge, ideas and inspiration
for audiences of all ages with more than 160 of the planet’s best writers alive
Appearing exclusively at the Festival is Norwegian literary
rock star Karl Ove Knausgaard. He joins a stellar line-up including US New
York Times number one bestselling author of We Are All Completely Beside
Ourselves and The Jane Austen Book Club,Karen Joy Fowler; CWA
Gold Dagger winner Jane Harper andAustralian literary statesman
Alex Miller; award winning New Zealand writers: Festival co-founder Peter
Wells, globally lauded Lloyd Jones and national treasure Anne Salmond;
leading American neuroscientist David Eagleman; Kiwi cartoonist Tom
Scott; leading journalist and memoirist Diana Wichtel; New Zealand’s
2017 Venice Art Biennale representative Lisa Reihana; British novelist,
the great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud, Susie Boyt; US Pulitzer
Prize-winning journalist Amy Goldstein; Kenyan Nobel contender Ngugi
wa Thiong’o; New Zealand’s poet laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh;
poet, novelist and critic C.K. Stead; Bill Gates-backed originator of
the Big History genre, David Christian; Australian broadcaster,
director, children’s writer and daughter of the late, great John Clarke, Lorin
Clarke; Rolling Stone editor and environmental writer Jeff
Goodell; renowned British philosopher and author A.C. Grayling;
Kurdistani poet and feminist who established the region’s first tertiary gender
studies programme Choman Hardi; global literary star, former UN
under-secretary and writer Shashi Tharoor; New Zealander novelists Catherine
Chidgey and Linda Olsson; Bulgarian-Kiwi historian, travel writer,
novelist and poet Kapka Kassabova; The New Yorker’s music critic,
Alex Ross; freelance journalist and Myanmar specialist Francis Wade;
and prolific science fiction writer and futurist Neal Stephenson.
The Festival is internationally
recognised now as one of the best literature celebrations in the world, with
six days of ideas, readings, debates, stand-up poetry, literary theatre,
children’s writers and free public and family events. Festival attendance has
grown exponentially with audiences topping 73,000 last year.
Auckland Writers Festival director Anne O’Brien says this
year sees a heady mix of high profile and cutting edge literary stars.
“I’m thrilled to present the Festival’s most diverse line-up
of writers yet,” she says.
“We know that our audience loves to discover and learn and
in response to this demand, there is a depth of talent the likes of which we
have never seen. Sharlene Teo, Durga Chew-Bose, Annalese
Jochems and Jenny Zhang – young women producing extraordinary work -
sit alongside global literary luminaries like Karl Ove Knausgaard, Alex
Miller, Lloyd Jones and Catherine Chidgey.
“I encourage you all to see not only those writers you know
and love, but also those with interesting backgrounds and areas of interest.
“This Festival offers writers on a scale unique in New
Zealand. It only happens once a year. Don’t miss it!”
Multi-million copy bestselling children’s author, Jeff
Kinney, joins the Festival early – on 1 May – to entertain readers big and
small with his Diary of a Wimpy Kid stories. Former British Children’s
Laureate and political observer Chris Riddell will be a highlight for
many, too, mid-Festival on Wednesday 16 May.
Comedians the Festival has, including our own Michele
A’Court with tales of love and marriage; major English writer, actor and
one half of the double act Mitchell and Webb – Robert Webb and
Australian actor, writer, producer, director and broadcaster Peter Helliar
who will discuss his first children’s book series Frankie Fish appear in
events throughout the Festival.
The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards is the first
public event of the programme at the Aotea Centre on Tuesday 15 May. Come and
see who will take home the big prizes, with Stacey Morrison as MC and
Glasgow-based writer, journalist and founding editor of the Scottish Review
of BooksAlan Taylor joining the New Zealand judging team in
selecting the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize winner. It’s the book
awards’ 50th anniversary this year, and what better way to celebrate
than with a quiz on who’s who in NZ lit’ – and you’re all invited!
Rhodes Scholar and author Damon
Salesa challenges us in this year’s Michael King Lecture, to embrace
our Pacific talent, and finally act like a Pacific Nation on Saturday 19 May.
Following the successful of last
year’s Walk on High, the Festival presents Call On O’Connell on
Friday May 18, in which more than 30 writers treat audiences to restyled news
delivered from barbershop stools; under the table tales from the Wine Chamber;
racy readings with chocolate, past writers remembered, and reports from abroad
Come and find out ‘what happens next’ in the #METOO movement
at the University of Auckland’s Festival Forum on Wednesday 16 May, featuring
Kurdistan Region feminist Choman Hardi, Māori development and media
specialist Ella Henry, US scientist Hope Jahren and British
comedian and writer Robert Webb.
The sparkling Heartland
Festival Room returns, right in the middle of Aotea Square, treating
audiences from the morning til late into the night, with a wide selection of
stories, including musical moments from Nadia Reid, Lawrence Arabia and
Moana Maniapoto. Further to all things musical, cultural critic and
author Alex Ross shares the concert stage with mezzo-soprano Bianca Andrew
and Aotearoa’s pre-eminent modern ensemble STROMA. Together they
present a companion soundtrack to Ross’s book, The Rest Is Noise,
featuring some of the most beautiful and intriguing compositions of the last
100 years. This will be a very special event held in the Town Hall on Sunday 20
May, presented by Chamber Music New Zealand in association with the
Festival. And Auckland chanteuse Linn Lorkin joins forces with
playwright Dean Parker in a performance piece based on Parker’s Man
Alone sequel, Johnson.
There’s a change of pace in the Festival’s Art Gallery
Series this year, with films featuring literary greats including Maurice
Sendak, Margaret Atwood, Hone Tuwhare, Amoz Oz, Virago Press and Margaret Mahy.
Theatrical writing is
celebrated, too. Internationally acclaimed as the successor to Billie Whitelaw
for her brilliant interpretations of the work of Samuel Beckett, Irish actor Lisa
Dwan delivers a performance lecture in celebration of the Nobel Prize
winner on Friday 18 May. Director Nancy Brunning honours labourer turned
award-winning Māori writer Rowley Habib with a distinguished cast including: Rawiri
Paratene; Te Kahu Rolleston; Tanea Heke and Mitch Tawhi Thomas
performing throughout the Festival; as is Melbourne solo performer Emma Mary
Hall with her monologue piece We May Have To Choose.
Five of Auckland’s brightest spoken word artists take to the
stage with globally lauded performer greats, in an outstanding showcase of
talent in Best Best Showcase on Friday 18 May.
Always a sell-out, this year’s Festival
Gala Night is True Stories Told Live: Under Cover on Thursday 17 May
at the Aotea Centre. Susie Boyt (England), Lisa Dwan (Ireland); Gigi
Fenster (South Africa/NZ); Alex Ross (US); Damon Salesa (Samoa/NZ);
Tom Scott (NZ); Shashi Tharoor (India); and Jenny Zhang
(US) 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.
Head on down to the Town Hall on Sunday 20 May for Family
Day, where there’s a packed day of performances, presentations, animals and
insects, story time and activities for children. James Russell’s hugely
popular Dragon Brothers series is ‘almost’ present with an augmented
reality treat in Aotea Square throughout the Festival.
The event finale on Sunday
afternoon is an hour with Honoured New Zealand Writer, Witi Ihimaera (Te
Aitanga-a-Mahāki, Tūhoe, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui). His writing has touched
generations of readers and is awarded and celebrated here and around the world.
The first Māori writer to publish both a book of short stories and a novel, he
has since written more than 30 books for adults and children, as well as
screenplays, scripts, essays and libretto. Join us in this free event paying
tribute to one of our literary taonga.
“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.
Ms O’Brien says it’s a privilege to present such diverse and
talented writers from here and around the world.
“I encourage everyone to come along and engage with words
and ideas offered in books, song, stand-up, performances, prose, in debates and
conversations, from voices both familiar and new.”
The 2018 Auckland Writers Festival programme is launched at
an invitation-only event at the Auckland Art Gallery on the evening of
Wednesday 14 March.
A preferential booking period for Festival Patrons and
Friends follows, with public tickets on sale from 9.00am, Friday 16 March from www.ticketmaster.co.nz.
The Auckland Writers Festival
warmly thanks Platinum Partner: Heartland Bank; Gold Partners: The University
of Auckland, Freemasons Foundation, Ockham and Creative New Zealand; and all
our Silver, Bronze and Supporting Partners.
We are also enormously grateful
to our Festival patrons for their enthusiasm and generosity.