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Junot Diaz announced winner of 08 Pulitzer Prize

2008 Auckland Writers & Readers Festival Celebrate with 2008 Pulitzer Prize Winner Junot Diaz

Junot Díaz has just been announced as the winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. The Dominican-American prose writer’s novel was described by New York Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani as “a wondrous, not-so-brief first novel that is so original it can only be described as Mario Vargas Llosa meets ‘Star Trek’ meets David Foster Wallace meets Kanye West.” Díaz, listed by The New Yorker Magazine as one of the 20 top writers for the 21st century, won a National Book Critics Circle Award recently, and film rights for Oscar Wao have been snapped up by Miramax.

“We are delighted for Junot, and can’t wait to celebrate with him here at the Aotea Centre in Auckland” says Festival Director Jill Rawnsley. “Apparently he’s always wanted to come to New Zealand, and he’s having a fantastic year so we’re going to make the most of his visit.” Junot Díaz appears in four events in the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival between Wednesday 14 May and Sunday 18 May. The festival features over 120 international and local writers and commentators in over 60 events, giving the public numerous chances to hear top local and international writers speak on a wide range of topics.

Tickets are available now to hear Nobel prize-winner and two-time Man Booker prize-winner J.M. Coetzee in action at the “New Zealand Listener Opening Night” event on Thursday 15 May, and in an hour-long reading on Saturday 17 May. The winner of the 2007 Man Booker prize, Anne Enright, completes the trio of top international literary and speech prize-winners speaking at the 2008 Auckland Writers & Readers Festival. Enright will appear in two events over the weekend of the festival, Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 May.

“Changes to the printed programme are inevitable”, says Rawnsley, “and we advise people to check our website or subscribe to our ezine for updates”. Since printing the programme, Elizabeth Knox has had to “postpone” her appearance – she is off to France for the filming of The Vintner’s Luck. “Major opportunities come up for artists, and we completely understand they need to run with them”, says Rawnsley. Another cancellation has led to a bonus appearance by Dave Dobbyn, who steps into the breach for Don McGlashan. Dobbyn joins fellow songwriters Victoria Girling-Butcher and John Chong-Nee with MC Mike Chunn for “Songwriters Speak” to give us a rare insight into the art of songwriting. “We are extraordinarily grateful to Dave for making himself available at such short notice,” says Rawnsley.

Auckland Writers & Readers Festival tickets are available now through THE EDGE® Ticketing Service: phone bookings on (09) 357 3355, fax bookings to: (09) 357 3359 (please note this number is incorrect in the printed programme) or visit www.the-edge.co.nz to book online. The festival programme is available both online at www.writersfestival.co.nz and in printed form in all good bookstores and libraries, or can be ordered direct from the festival office by emailing info@writersfestival.co.nz with postal details.

The festival is made possible with the support of core funders the ASB Community Trust, Creative New Zealand and the Lion Foundation; and Gold Sponsor The New Zealand Listener; Silver Sponsors Auckland City Council, Crowne Plaza Auckland, Delmaine Fine Foods, THE EDGE® and The New Zealand Herald; and Bronze Sponsors Allpress Coffee, the Arts Channel, Documentary Channel, Hachette Livre, HarperCollins Publishers, McGovern Online, Ngatarawa Wines, Penguin Books, Random House and South Pacific Pictures.


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