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War hits Auckland Writers & Readers Festival

War hits Auckland Writers & Readers Festival

Annie Proulx & Iain Banks cancel – Jeffery Deaver & Elizabeth Knox to replace them Public bookings open this weekend, Saturday 5th April

Two international authors have cancelled their appearances at the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival, which is being held from 15th – 18th May. All other international stars have confirmed they will attend.

American novelist Annie Proulx has cancelled all her touring commitments until September, due to “the heightened threat of terrorism against Americans abroad” and British writer Iain Banks has burnt his passport, sending the remains to Tony Blair in protest at the war in Iraq.

“I just couldn't think of any other non-violent way to express my shame at being British and at the fact that this immoral and illegal war being waged, supposedly, in my name, ” he says.

He was also scheduled to appear at the Sydney Writers Festival, which is being held the week after the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival.

“Obviously, we’re extremely disappointed that neither Annie nor Iain will be making the trip to New Zealand but all our other international authors are confirmed,” says festival creative director Peter Wells.

“We’re delighted to announce four more international authors: Dai Sijie, Norma Khouri, Ronny Someck and Jeffery Deaver, who will be replacing Iain Banks. Elizabeth Knox will fill some of the sessions Annie Proulx was due to appear in.”

Dai Sijie was sent away from his parents to be "re-educated'' during China’s Cultural Revolution in 1966-1971. He left China in 1984 for France where he has lived and worked ever since. His novel Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress became an immediate best-seller when it appeared in 2000. Rights to the novel have been sold in 25 countries, and it has been made into a film by the author.

Jordanian Norma Khouri wrote Forbidden Love in Greek Internet cafes after being forced to flee her country because she confronted the parents of Dalia, a friend who fell in love with a young Catholic man and was killed by her father. Khouri had to leave when her own family threatened to kill her for shaming them. She wrote Forbidden Love to bring to the world's attention the plight of women like Dalia.

Iraqi-born poet Ronny Someck has lived in Tel Aviv since he was a child. He has published seven collections of poems and his work has been translated into 22 languages, including Arabic, Catalan, and Albanian. The Fire Stays in Red was recently published in English.

U.S. author Jeffery Deaver has written 18 novels which have won numerous awards. In 2001 he won the W.H. Smith Thumping Good Read Award for his novel The Empty Chair. Translated into 25 languages, his novels have appeared on a number of best seller lists around the world, including the New York Times, the London Times and the Los Angeles Times. The Bone Collector was a feature release from Universal Pictures, starring Denzel Washington.

The full list of international authors is: Anita Rau Badami, Antony Beevor, William Dalrymple, Jeffery Deaver, Aminatta Forna, Jonathan Franzen, Linda Grant, Shifra Horn, Norma Khouri, David Leser, Kim Mahood, Rick Moody, Les Murray, Dai Sijie and Ronny Someck. The Festival also features over 80 New Zealand participants.

Public bookings open this Saturday, 5th April. Bookings are through Ticketek. The full programme and booking details can be found at the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival website at http:// http://www.writersfestival.co.nz.

The Auckland Writers & Readers Festival gold and silver sponsors are the NZ Herald, Lion Foundation, Buddle Findlay, Delmaine Fine Foods, Creative New Zealand and the Hyatt Regency Auckland.

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