Saturday, May 16, 2009

Auckland Writers Festival 2009
Anna Taylor (Relief), Bridget van der Zijpp (Misconduct), Eleanor Catton (The Rehearsal)

One of the free sessions, (good on the Festival for doing this), held in the Air New Zealand Foyer on level five of the Aotea Centre drew a standing room only crowd which was somewhat surprising considering these three authors have only recently been published for the first time and are virtual unknowns compared to most other authors appearing here. Probably the biggest crowd they will address for some while I suspect. A crowd too who were both supportive and interactive.

The authors appeared rather nervous, daunted perhaps, to start with but chair Bill Manhire soon calmed them, (I liked his comment that they had recently changed from caterpillars to butterflies), and by the time each had read from their books they participated keenly in the following discussions.
It was appropriate that Manhire chaired this session as all three of the authors are graduates of “his” school, ( IIML) at Victoria University in Wellington. And all are published by Victoria University Press.
After each read from their own work Manhire “interviewed” them and also invited the others to comment.

Although the three books are all very different to one another, The Rehearsal is a complex, demanding novel, literary fiction with erotic undertones, which has attracted overseas interest, while Misconduct is more accessible, more mainstream, shortlisted too for the regional section of the Commonwealth Writers Prize Best First Book, while Relief is a collection of short stories, there was nevertheless a good deal of agreement from the three authors on their approach to writing, their mining of family and personal experiences, and the problems in naming fictional characters.

1 comment:

Vanda Symon said...

I thought this was a fabulous session, and being one of the punters sitting on the floor, was delighted to see so much interest from readers who came out in droves.

The three writers were a delight to hear read, and to listen to when talking with Bill Manhire (who was a very calming influence and a great chair) The diversity of their work was great and I left feeling very heartened by the wealth of new writing talent in New Zealand.