News & Updates




    Struggling to make your Festival choices out of the myriad of ticketed and free events on offer? Here are some suggestions for making the most of the #OpenBook.

    1. IF YOU'VE NEVER BEEN TO THE AUCKLAND WRITERS FESTIVAL BEFORE, we heartily recommend the GALA NIGHT as a sampler of things to come: eight writers each telling a short true story inspired by the theme Under Cover. But be quick, as this is a sellout every year and only a few tickets remain.

    2. To range wider, pick at least one event on the programme that sounds interesting but features SOMEONE YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF BEFORE. Sometimes the most memorable events are the discoveries!

    3. If you’re into keeping up with THE WORLD AT LARGE, here’s a taster pack:

    • Washington Post Pulitzer winning journalist Amy Goldstein on the changing face of work as played out in the town of Janesville, Wisconsin.
    • Madeleine O’Dea, foreign correspondent who has witnessed the rise of China and the explosion of its contemporary art alongside a struggle for freedom of expression.
    • Rolling Stones journalist Jeff Goodell contemplates rising waters around the globe as a way of grappling with climate change
    • Indian writer and politician Shashi Tharoor unpicks history, colonialism, religion, gender and more in more than 18 acclaimed books.

    4. To connect with the VOICES OF THE TIMES:

    • Punk, poet, muse and ex-presidential candidate Eileen Myles, of whom writer Maggie Nelson said her ‘voice’ had changed the direction of Maggie’s life.
    • Jenny Zhang author of Sour Heart published by Lena Dunham’s Lenny imprint. The book of short stories is widely lauded for setting ‘the “model minority” myth on fire.’ (Slate)
    • In the shadow of the #MeToo movement, The University of Auckland Festival Forum #WhereToNow? gathers UK comedian Robert Webb, US scientist Hope Jahren, Kurdistani poet and feminist Choman Hardi, and NZ academic Ella Henry to unpick the complexities with Charlotte Graham-McLay.
    • Big picture stuff with science fiction writer, essayist and futurist Neal Stephenson whose work has shaped some of the major technological changes of the last 50 years.



    • Family Day: a day of free events for Under 5's and Over 5's. We’re taking over the Concert Chamber and Balcony Bar in the Auckland Town Hall so bring the family along and see authors like James Russell (Dragon Brothers books), Bronwen Wall (Explore! Aotearoa), Pat Chapman (Stuck Truck!), Kennedy Warne (That’s My Egg (and you can’t have it!)), Chris Szekely (Rona) and many more. They’ll be telling tales and helping with special craft activities from 10am - 3pm.
    • Frankie Fish with Peter Helliar: Australian comedian (Rove, The Project Australia) and writer presents his madcap adventures for a young audience on Sunday morning, kicking of Family Day. Bring the kids, grandparents (leave kids with grandparents?) along for an entertaining time.
    • On The Ice: Mike Gill was Sir Edmund Hillary’s climbing companion for many years. Hear his tales of adventure, danger and more along with Joanna Grochowicz who is author of acclaimed YA novel Into the White about Robert Scott’s expedition to Antarctica. Te Radar asks them ice-sharp questions.
    • Subterranean Wonders: Let Neil Silverwood and Marcus Thomas take you into NZ’s most beautiful underground caverns…. With images from their book Caves: Exploring New Zealand’s Subterranean Wilderness.

    7. For the chance to hear STUNNING STORYTELLERS:

    • Writer for readers of all ages, A.S. King is hailed as one of the ‘greatest YA writers working today’.
    • Alex Miller and Fiona Farrell are two of the finest. Hear Australian and Aotearoa legends discuss how they create fiction from fact and play a fine line between the two.
    • Acclaimed novelists C.K. Stead and Lloyd Jones take Europe as the setting for both their latest books. A rare chance to see both authors in one go.
    • Karen Joy Fowler is renowned for her book We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and is also regarded as one of the finest sci-fi voices today. A storyteller of many dimensions!


    • Selina Tusitala Marsh: our poet laureate is an extraordinary live presence. Selina is like your gateway drug into poetry, a force of nature to inspire you!
    • John Clarke: John was such a hero of mine and this event called How Lucky Were We? is our chance to revisit his work and talent. We’re grateful to have Lorin Clarke with us (John’s daughter) and Michael Heyward (friend and colleague) together with our own Tom Scott and Gemma Gracewood. Come along and help us honour this great New Zealander.
    • Odyssey of the Anzac: David Hastings has told the utterly incredible story of ‘unknowns soldier’ George McQuay whose journey took him from Aotearoa to Gallipoli and the Western Front to Australia… and eventually home.
    • A Māori Word A Day: Hēmi Kelly is taking three morning Te Reo lessons to help you begin your journey into our beautiful language. Koha entry, give it a try!


    • Ngugi wa Thiong’o: we are honoured to be hosting this writer at the Festival. His life and his writing tell compelling stories -- imprisonment, escape, post-colonial identity, the love of and value of the written language (and not necessarily English!). An opportunity to learn from an extraordinary individual.
    • Ursula Le Guin: The late great writer is being celebrated by Elizabeth Knox, David Larsen and Karen Joy Fowler. Even if you haven’t read Le Guin this will be an enlightening event and a chance to make a discovery that could change your reading life!
    • Best Best Showcase: This is the second event we’ve run that features local spoken word talent alongside international guests. The atmosphere in 2017 was electric and this year will build upon that with some of the most powerful performers around. Even if you’re not a regular to poetry performance, I guarantee you’ll find this evening extraordinary.
    • Karl Ove Knausgaard: The Norwegian author is a worldwide bestseller and one of the best known contemporary writers of our times. A one-off opportunity.
    • Honoured New Zealand Writer, Witi Ihimaera: This is an opportunity to join and celebrate one of our greatest writers, ever. Witi will talk with author Paula Morris about his life in this special free event honouring his contribution to Aotearoa.

    Surveying our RELATIONSHIPS:

    • Hot new author Sharlene Teo’s novel Ponti is a rich landscape of female relationships. Swerving between teenage friendships and adult recollections it’s a sultry dive into the complexities of woman to woman dynamics. Hear all about the inspirations behind her debut novel.
    • Peter Wells has created an intense and moving relationship between himself and an online readership as he has allowed access too his journey with cancer. His latest book, the memoir Dear Oliver, traverses the stories told in letters found in his mother’s artefacts.
    • How We Met is Michele A’Court’s book exploring the ways in which couples recount their first interactions. The Science of Love will be a clever, funny event bouncing off the moments that will ring true for us all!
    • The Art of the Comedy Write is a free event in which comedians discuss how they create comedy gold. This one celebrates our relationship to laughter -- something we all need on a regular basis! Featuring Kanoa Lloyd, Peter Helliar, Kura Forrester and Oscar Kightley.

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