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Writers and Readers Festival starts tomorrow

Auckland Writers and Readers Festival starts tomorrow (Thursday 15th May)

The fourth Auckland Writers and Readers Festival begins tomorrow evening (Thursday 15th May) at the Hyatt Regency, with Opening Star Night, featuring American literary superstar Jonathan Franzen, award-winning British novelist Linda Grant and travel writer extraordinaire William Dalrymple.

“Ticket sales have gone incredibly well and the stage is set for another stimulating festival,” says co-creative director Peter Wells. “While having Annie Proulx and Iain Banks cancel because of the war in Iraq was a big disappointment for us, it certainly hasn’t affected the level of interest in the festival.”

The festival runs from Thursday 15th to Sunday 18th May, with 45 events featuring 16 international authors and over 80 New Zealand participants.

Events which have sold especially well include the Opening Star Night, and other events featuring Franzen, Grant and Dalrymple.

“The session ‘Cities in Crisis: Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Amman’ was another early hit. Israeli writer Shifra Hom, Jordanian author Norma Khouri and Iraqi-Israeli poet Ronny Someck all feature in the session chaired by television journalist Cameron Bennett,” says Wells.

The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Worlds Within Worlds’ and stars many international authors who live in a country different to that of their birth. As well as Hom, Khouri and Someck these include Dai Sijie, the Chinese author of Balzac and the Little Seamstress who now lives in Paris, British broadcaster and writer Aminatta Forna who was born in Sierra Leone and is based in London and novelist Anita Rau Badami, who was born in India and lives in Canada.

Antony Beevor, the British historian who wrote the best-selling Stalingrad, and Berlin – The Downfall, has also proved extremely popular with festival goers, says festival co-creative director Stephanie Johnson.

“There are only limited tickets available for the black tie Buddle Findlay Sargeson dinner on Sunday night, where he is the guest speaker. The speakers at previous Buddle Findlay Sargeson dinners have proved extremely entertaining and at times, contentious. We expect this year’s event to follow in the same vein,” she says.

Beevor also appears in the Friday Night Special, along with US novelist Rick Moody, Anita Rau Badami and British novelist and broadcaster, Sarah Dunant.

Bookings are through Ticketek and for programme information, check the festival website at http:// Door sales will be available at all non-catered, non-sold out events.

The Auckland Writers and 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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