News & Updates



We are excited to announce our online 2020 Winter Series, featuring a star-studded writer line-up which includes Bernardine Evaristo, Ann Patchett, Neil Gaiman, Samantha Power, Barbara Ewing, Richard Ford, Elizabeth Knox, Robert Macfarlane, Philippe Sands, Lisa Taddeo, Cass Sunstein, Ian Wedde, Alan Bollard, Chanel Miller, Helon Habila, Freya Daly Sadgrove, Simon Armitage, Maggie O’Farrell, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Deborah Eisenberg, Wallace Shawn, Becky Manawatu, Peter Stanford, Caroline Barron, An Yu, Amy McDaid, Anthony Byrt, Olivia Hayfield and more.

Commencing at 9am on May 3rd and running live once a week for 13 weeks, three writers including at least two from the 2020 programme will chat with series host Paula Morris, read from their work and answer audience questions.

Each episode will stream live and free-to-view on the Festival’s YouTube and Facebook channels, and will then be uploaded to our website.

This series provides an opportunity to champion New Zealand and international books that were to feature at our now-cancelled May Festival, and we encourage viewers to order books via our partner bookseller: The Women's Bookshop.

The Festival thanks its presentation partner Auckland Live, as well as Copyright New Zealand and all our generous sponsors, funders and patrons and friends whose support has enabled us to continue our work during these extraordinary times.

Watch the livestream, at 9-10am each Sunday:

Or catch up later:

Bookseller link:


(England / Aotearoa New Zealand) Writer and editor Sue Copsey is the author of several children’s books, and has now released her first adult novel under the pseudonym Olivia Hayfield. Wife After Wife is a modern take on the life and marriages of Henry VIII, - in this version a 21st century womanising media mogul rather than the king of England.

PETER STANFORD (England) Journalist Peter Stanford’s books include biographies of Pope Joan, Judas, the devil, and Martin Luther, as well as his latest Angels: A Visible and Invisible Mystery A thought-provoking and entertaining look at the origins of angels in religious thought, history, psychology and wider culture. He edited The Catholic Herald, regularly writes on religion and ethics for newspapers and the BBC.

ELIZABETH KNOX (Aotearoa New Zealand) Eizabeth Knox is the author of 13 novels, three novellas and a collection of essays. The Absolute Book is an epic novel that moves between real and fantasy worlds. She won several NZ Book Awards for the novel Vintner’s Luck, and a Michael L Printz Honor for Dreamquake.

Watch Episode Six live:


Watch Episode Five
Listen to Episode Five

RICHARD FORD (United States) Leading American novelist and short story writer Richard Ford is the author of seven novels and several collections, among them The Sportswriter, Let Me Be Frank With You and Independence Day, the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN Faulkner Award. In 2019 he was awarded the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction – a lifetime achievement award. The Library described him as a “luminous storyteller – one of the most eloquent writers of his generation”. He is currently a professor in the Humanities at Columbia University and his latest collection is Sorry for your Trouble.

AMY McDAID (Aotearoa New Zealand) The winner of the James Wallace Prize for the first draft of her debut novel Fake Baby, Amy McDaid has a master’s of creative writing from The University of Auckland and has had work published in The Spinoff and Three Lamps Journal. She works as a neonatal intensive care nurse.

YASMIN KHAN (England) Food writer and broadcaster Yasmin Khan is the author of The Saffron Tales and Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen and counts Yotam Ottolenghi and Nigella Lawson as fans. Yasmin is passionate about sharing people's stories through food. Prior to her food career, she was a human rights campaigner for NGOs.


Watch Episode Four
Listen to Episode Four

DEBORAH EISENBERG (United States) A master of the short story – with the requisite skills of observation, pacing, and economy – Deborah Eisenberg is dubbed a “chronicler of American insanity” by Her five collections include the recent Your Duck is My Duck. She teaches writing at New York’s Columbia University.

WALLACE SHAWN (United States) Writer and actor Wallace Shawn’s plays have been performed at New York’s Public Theater and the National Theatre in London with The Designated Mourner, The Fever and Marie and Bruce also made into films. Shawn’s many acting credits include Toy Story, The Princess Bride, Manhattan and My Dinner with Andre.

CAROLINE BARRON (Aotearoa New Zealand) Caroline Barron is a writer, manuscript assessor, book reviewer, and trustee of the Michael King Writers Centre. She has a master’s in creative writing from The University of Auckland, and won a NZ Society of Authors Complete MS award for her memoir Ripiro Beach: A Memoir of Life After Near Death.


Watch Episode Three
Listen to Episode Three

BECKY MANAWATU (Aotearoa New Zealand) Becky Manawatu (Ngāi Tahu) is the winner of both the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction and the Best First Book Award Fiction at the 2020 Ockham NZ Book Awards with her debut novel Auē. The judges wrote, “Auē is a mere pounamu: raw life polished to a sheen that’s beautiful and warm but at the same time a blade with a keen edge". A journalist and writer, Becky works as a reporter for The News in Westport. Her story ‘Abalone’ was longlisted for the 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

ROBERT MACFARLANE (England) Writer Robert Macfarlane is best known for his books on landscape, nature, place, people and language. Described by The Wall Street Journal as “the great nature writer, and nature poet, of this generation,” his many books include the award-winning Landmarks, The Old Ways, and The Lost Words, with several adapted for TV by the BBC. A Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in 2017 he received The EM Forster Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Underland: A Deep Time Journey is his most recent book.

CHANEL MILLER (United States) 2019 Time Next 100 honoree and literature graduate Chanel Miller (pseudonym Emily Doe) is a writer and artist. Her New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed memoir, Know My Name sparked a nation-wide discussion in the US about the treatment of sexual assault survivors by both colleges and the court system. It was listed as a 2019 notable book by New York Times Book Review, Time and the Washington Post, and won best memoir in that year's National Book Critics Circle Awards.


Watch Episode Two
Listen to Episode Two

(France/England) Philippe Sands' latest book The Ratline is a unique glimpse into the life of a senior Nazi official and his wife before, during, and on the run after the war. Already a best seller in the UK just one week after its release, it’s been described as reading like a John le Carre thriller.His previous book East West Street: On the Origins of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide has won numerous prizes, including the 2016 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. He is a barrister and Professor of Law at University College London.

IAN WEDDE (Aotearoa New Zealand)Ian Wedde has written 15 poetry collections, eight novels, two collections of essays, and a number of anthologies and art monographs. A former NZ Poet Laureate, he has received numerous awards, fellowships and grants, and has recently published the historical novel The Reed Warbler.

LISA TADDEO (United States) Lisa Taddeo has an MFA in fiction and has won Pushcart Prizes for her short stories. She is the author of the non-fiction 2019 bestseller on female desire Three Women. Her debut novel, Animal, will be out next summer, with her collection of stories to follow.


AL winter series_covers ep 1.png

Watch Episode One
Listen to Episode One

BARBARA EWING (Aotearoa New Zealand) Writer and actress Barbara Ewing trained at RADA and has starred on stage and on screen including in the award-winning series Brass. She is the author of nine novels, published in 12 languages, including Orange Prize longlisted A Dangerous Vine, and the memoir One Minute Crying Time.

ALAN BOLLARD (Aotearoa New Zealand) Alan Bollard was governor of the Reserve Bank, Treasury secretary, chair of the Commerce Commission and Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat in Singapore. Currently an economics professor at Victoria University of Wellington, he is the author of several books including Economists at War.

Bernardine Evaristo is the author of eight books exploring the African diaspora, including the Booker prizewinning novel, Girl, Woman, Other, and the recipient of many honours including an MBE. She is professor of creative writing at Brunel University London, and vice chair of the Royal Society of Literature.

aklwritersfest Follow us on Instagram ›