News & Updates




Overwhelmed with choice? Here are some suggestions for making the most of your love for story…


If you’re new to the festival, a great place to start is with the Festival Gala Night where you can enjoy a sample of international and New Zealand writers telling True Stories Told Live. It’s a fantastic and entertaining way to see who you might like to see more of.


If you like to keep up with current affairs, then you need to be at The University of Auckland Festival Forum: The Great Divide, featuring Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Susan Faludi, Australian journalist Stan Grant, UK writer John Lanchester, our own Paula Morris and convened by Andrew Johnston.They’ll be covering territory on Brexit, Trump and the inescapable tensions across economics, politics, race, gender and geographies..

You’ll also want to be at Truth or Dare, where Weekend Herald editor Miriyana Alexander, freelance journalist Chris Barton and AUT Programme Leader of the Graduate Diploma in Pacific Journalism Richard Pamatatau get into truth, opinion, fake news… and who to trust.

Other must-sees for news hounds are Thomas Friedman (New York Times columnist and three-times-Pulitzer Prize Winner); feminist Roxane Gay (author of Difficult Women and Bad Feminist); and our own Max Harris, author of revolutionary book, A New New Zealand.


There is so much for those of you needing your dose of escapism, other worlds, the best storytellers around. Get to the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards and be among the first to celebrate New Zealand’s best (featuring Catherine Chidgey; Owen Marshall; Emma Neale and C.K. Stead). And of course our Honoured New Zealand Writer of 2017 is Dame Fiona Kidman - make sure you’re at the session devoted to celebrating her life and work.

After that, ensure you do not miss George Saunders, renowned short story writers and now novelist, as his book Lincoln in the Bardo is certain to be a future multi-prize winner. Denis Johnson is another essential, as is Irish writer, Anne Enright. Crime fiction lovers, you’ll be way ahead of us when we say Ian Rankin. Be there. For the YA fans, Francis Hardinge is your pick - the Costa Award Winning author is creator of The Lie Tree among many other fantastic books that provide role models for us all.


Come along to the Festival Gala Night for the energy and sparkle of an opening array of international and New Zealand writers who kick us off in style. You’ll be up for Guardian critic and UK Masterchef Judge, Jay Rayner’s show called The Ten (Food) Commandments where he entertains with tales from the frontline of restaurant reviewing.

New to the festival this year is a rollicking ride through High Street called Walk on High. Four quick-fire sessions will happen in High Street shops. Over 20 writers are involved, as well as the Walk on High Choir!

Also new to the Festival is the Heartland Festival Room; a stunning spiegeltent venue and home to late-night salons hosted by Chris Parker & Tom Sainsbury, called Chris and Tom Write A Book. The inimitable Stella Duffy also brings fun and laughter to the festival with her own salon events.

Ivan Coyote is a true gem of this festival; a world-renowned storyteller, they will blow you away. And finish up your festival experience with Must Not Reads - a controversial prod at books that perhaps have been canonised for all the wrong reasons…


Make discoveries and get to Viola Di Grado (Italy), Brit Bennett (author of The Mothers, from California), 1001 Nights... In Auckland, a special project with star students from Aotearoa, and the Best of the Best Spoken Word Showcase starring New Zealand’s top spoken word talent with international guests.


Make the most of it by taking advantage of these top tips from our Festival Director, Anne O’Brien:
To celebrate New Zealand writers: Go to the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, Lloyd Geering, Old Guard/New Guard (featuring Hera Lindsay Bird, Bill Manhire and Andrew Johnson), and hear Dame Fiona Kidman at The Honoured New Zealand Writer session.

To be immersed in current global issues: Hear scientist Lawrence Krauss speak about climate change; listen to powerhouse Roxane Gay on feminism and gender politics; and get yourself to Thomas Friedman who discusses global affairs.

Get clued up on the best fiction writers: George Saunders is author of many, astonishing short stories and now of Lincoln in the Bardo, is celebrated debut novel. Denis Johnson, poet, playwright and novelist is an author we should all be reading.

Enjoy late nights in the Heartland Festival Room: renaissance woman Stella Duffy hosts salons with international and local writers, guaranteed good times in fabulous spiegeltent surrounds. Chris & Tom Write A Book salon sessions are hosted by two of New Zealand’s funniest, most talented stage and screen writers, Chris Parker and Tom Sainsbury.

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