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Late Entrant Scottish writer Andrew O’Hagan

Media Information
For immediate release
6/3/02

NEW WRITER FOR FESTIVAL’S NEW ZEALAND POST WRITERS AND READERS WEEK

We are none of us safe in this world. What’s unsettling about the first sentence of the extraordinary The Missing by the young Scottish writer Andrew O’Hagan is the way he takes the simple fact of our own vulnerability, a fact so familiar we conveniently ignore it, and pushes it to the centre of our minds. The Missing is an exploration of what it means to go missing and what can go missing – places as well as people. It starts with a memoir about his grandfather, lost at sea in World War II, and goes on to examine other people who have ‘gone missing’, including the toddler James Bulger, and the 12 women murdered by Fred and Rosemary West.

Andrew O'Hagan was born in Glasgow in 1968. He grew up on Ayrshire's west coast. The Missing was his first book and was named an international book of the year in the Times Literary Supplement. It was shortlisted for the Esquire Award, the Saltire First Book Award and the Scottish Writer of the Year Award. It was adapted for radio, and for television as Calling Bible John and was nominated for a Bafta.

O'Hagan's novel Our Fathers was published by Faber and Faber in 1999 to immediate acclaim. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize 1999, the Whitbread First Novel Award 1999 and won the Jonathon Llwellyn Rhys Prize.

O’Hagan is a welcome last-minute addition to New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week, says Coordinator Chris Price. ‘With the Theresa Cormack case so much in the news lately, his interest in ‘the missing’ will be particularly topical.’ He will take part in two events already in the programme: ‘Keeping it in the Family’, a panel discussion on the delicate art of memoir with Peter Wells, Marilyn Duckworth and Stephanie de Montalk on Saturday 16 March at 11.30 am; and ‘First Loves’, the closing event of the Week in which writers present the works of literature that first inspired them, on Sunday 17 March at 3 pm.

Andrew O’Hagan is contributing editor to the London Review of Books and Granta. He was a feature writer at the Guardian and is now the film critic for the Daily Telegraph. He has presented Bookmark, The Works, X-S and The Late Show for BBC Television. He joins a stellar lineup of international writers at the New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week, including Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, US Poet Laureate Billy Collins and Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki.

New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week will also provide the forum for the announcement of the winner of the inaugural $60,000 Prize in Modern Letters, the most lavish literary prize in Australasia. A function on March 16th at the WestpacTrust St James Theatre will see the prize, set up by US literary philanthropist Glenn Schaeffer, awarded to an emerging writer who has had no more than two books published.

For the first time this year, New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week programmes are available free, from Unity Books and other good booksellers nationwide, as well as online at www.nzfestival.telecom.co.nz or by phoning 0900 FESTIVAL.

New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week runs from 12 - 17 March 2002. Tickets are available through Ticketek.

Reviews:

"Our Fathers succeeds in arousing just as much admiration as The Missing did. There's the same sense of definite purpose about the writing, but now there's also an involvement and passion about it which lifts it way out of the league of social documentary." Margaret Forster, The Spectator

"Painful secrets and social legacies are examined and beautifully interwoven in this exceptional first novel." Harpers and Queen

"Our Fathers is way more than just another gritty Scots novel about the generational-and-class-clash... In its claustrophobic focus on ordinary lives in crappy little places, Our Fathers is similarly unsettling. Pungent and poignant, this is for anyone who has ever gone back home, and then felt lost." The Face

ENDS.

The 2002 New Zealand Festival runs from Feb 24 - March 17 2002. Visit www.nzfestival.telecom.co.nz for details.

For further information contact:

Anne O’Brien
(04) 4965493
025 688 3682
anne.obrien@festival.co.nz

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