The 16th Auckland Writers Festival opens tomorrow with a stellar line up and record crowds.
Readers, thinkers, and those with an interest in the global issues of the day, descend on the Aotea Centre and the Town Hall to hear writers from New Zealand and around the world for six days of thought-provoking discussion, readings and entertainment.
Jamaican/US Marlon James, whose novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, won the 2015 Man Booker Prize; 2015 literary superstar Hanya Yanagihara; journalist, writer and women’s rights campaigner Gloria Steinem; writer, composer, musician, comedian, artist, ornithologist and conservationist Bill Oddie, who starred in the UK TV comedy classic The Goodies; the festival’s 2016 Honoured New Zealand writer Vincent O’Sullivan; former Midnight Oil frontman-cum-Aussie-politician and memoirist Peter Garrett; the UK’s Paula Hawkins who wrote the international bestselling psychological thriller The Girl on the Train; one of the world’s leading contemporary poets, Ireland’s Paul Muldoon; Englishwoman Jeanette Winterson whose autobiographical novel Oranges are not the only Fruit catapulted her to global fame; lauded New Zealand writers Helene Wong, Brian Turner, Patrick Evans and Fiona Farrell; psychotherapist, social critic and Fat is a Feminist Issue author Susie Orbach; English playwright, screenwriter and theatre and film director Sir David Hare; favourite Kiwi entertainers The Topp Twins; British creator of the popular children’s Tom Gates series Liz Pichon; US novelist Jane Smiley, who won the Pulitzer Prize for A Thousand Acres; broadcaster and biographer Alison Mau; French doctor, diplomat, historian, novelist and co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières Jean-Christophe Rufin; Middle East specialists Emma Sky and Yossi Alpher; satirist and award-winning writer Steve Braunias and many more.
Festival director, Anne O’Brien says the huge and growing interest in the festival is a sure sign of Kiwis’ appetite for rich, thought-provoking conversations.
“Living in a small, relatively isolated country, it is enormously gratifying to present a festival which brings the world to us.
“The festival offers insights into the big issues of our time and opportunities to hear our favourite writers, and it also opens the door to discovering new talent. It’s the best six days of the year.”
More than 150 writers take part in the festival, which runs until 15 May.
“We warmly welcome this year’s international guests as they stand alongside their New Zealand peers,” says Ms O’Brien.
While some of this year’s headline sessions have sold out, there are still tickets available to many events, including major guest sessions: Goodie Bill Oddie; A Life’s Work: Jane Smiley; Feminist Days: Susie Orbach; The Girl on the Train: Paula Hawkins; Tom Gates: Liz Pichon; Big Blue Sky: Peter Garrett and The Gap of Time: Jeanette Winterson.
This year, 40 percent of the festival’s events are free; part of the festival’s commitment to ensuring access for all.
The festival hosts the country’s premier book awards winners’ ceremony this year, which are open to the public for the first time. The 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards take place from 7.00pm on Tuesday 10 May in the Auckland Town Hall. Along with announcing the winners of the Poetry, General Non-Fiction and Illustrated Non-Fiction categories, the inaugural $50,000 Acorn Foundation Literary Prize will be presented to the Fiction category winner.
The Festival’s Family Day runs all day Sunday, 15 May. Crafted for 2-10 year olds, some of the country’s favourite children’s writers feature, including: Dragon Brothers creator James Russell, Baa Baa Smart Sheep’s Mark Sommerset and Peter Millett who entertains with Jonny Danger. Family Day events are FREE, but some are ticketed for capacity so be sure to check the festival website for details.
The University of Auckland Festival Forum’s returns with The Border Debatefeaturing Middle East expert Emma Sky, Israeli security analyst Yossi Alpher and Medecins Sans Frontieres co-founder Jean Christophe Rufin, with British philosopher Julian Baggini as moderator.
The Festival’s Gala Night theme is True Stories Told Live: Altered States. On Thursday 12 May, eight writers deliver a seven-minute true story, propless and scriptless. Be entertained by Chilean memoirist and actress Carmen Aguirre, Pasifika poet Tusiata Avia, ‘mainlander’ satirist Joe Bennett, Zimbabwean novelist and lawyer Petina Gappah, Midnight Oil frontman-cum-politician Peter Garrett, New York writer Vivian Gornick, thriller writer and actor Herman Koch and bestselling feminist and writer Jeanette Winterson.
Join us in what promises to be an insightful and poignant conversation with this year’s Honoured New Zealand Writer – Vincent O’Sullivan. The pre-eminent scholar, distinguished novelist, playwright, poet, biographer and librettist’s work is celebrated in this FREE session to end the festival on Sunday 15 May at 6pm.
The Auckland Writers Festival warmly thanks its Gold Partners: The University of Auckland, Freemasons Foundation, New Zealand Listener, Foundation North, Ockham Residential, Spark, Creative New Zealand and ATEED; and all our Silver, Bronze and Supporting Partners.
We are also enormously grateful to our Festival Patrons for their enthusiasm and generosity.
10 May Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2016 (The Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall 7-8.20pm)
11 May The Border Debate (The Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall 8-9.30pm) SOLD OUT
14 May NZ Listener Gala Night: True Stories Told Live – Altered States (ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, 7.00-8.30pm)
13-15 May Public Festival 70+ event programme (Aotea Centre & Auckland Art Gallery)
13 May Goodie Bill Oddie (ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, 7 -8.15pm)
14 May Tom Gates: Liz Pichon (ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, 9.00-10.00am) Under 12s are free but ticketed
An Evening with Gloria Steinem ((ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, 7.30 -8.45pm) SOLD OUT
15 May FREE Family Day Programme. (Herald Theatre and foyer, Aotea Centre)
Do Your Ears Hang Low?: The Topp Twins (ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, 9.00-10.00am) Under 12s are free, but ticketed
Honoured New Zealand Writer: Vincent O’Sullivan (ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, 6.00-7.00pm) FREE EVENT