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Auckland Writers & Readers Festival in May


A ‘Feast for the Mind’ is on the menu for the fifth Auckland Writers & Readers Festival in May

Aucklanders won’t go hungry for great literary and book-related events in May. The programme for the fifth Auckland Writers & Readers Festival will be available from 25 March and it’s overflowing with events that surpass the promise of this year’s Festival theme, ‘Nourish: Feasting the Mind and Feeding the Soul’. The Festival offers a full menu of 63 events featuring over 100 leading international and local writers, talking about fiction, poetry, travel, food, crime, biography, history, writing for television and film, and that 21st century phenomenon, ‘blogging’.

The Festival begins on Thursday 19 May, and continues with three full days of interviews, panel discussions, book launches and readings before culminating in the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Dinner on Sunday 22 May. Tickets go on sale from Ticketek on Friday 8 April. Friends of the Festival can book a week early from 1 April .

For those wishing to hone their writing skills, the New Zealand Post Writing Workshops will be held on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 May in the lead up to the Festival. Eight workshops cover a number of genres, and skilled practitioners tutor their specialty subjects: Jill Malcolm on travel writing; Harry Ricketts on creative non fiction; Diane Brown on poetry; Owen Marshall on short prose; Michael Bennett on writing for the screen; Joan Rosier-Jones on writing family history or memoir; James George on the novel; and Stephen Stratford on editing.

More international and local writers join the party

Internationally acclaimed American travel writer, Eric Hansen will share some of his memorable travel moments such as living with nomadic hunters and gatherers of Borneo, being shipwrecked in the Red Sea, hallucinating on the kava of Vanuatu, and investigating the aphrodisiac orchid ice cream of eastern Turkey when he talks at the NZ Herald Luncheon on Friday 20 May. Some of these stories are also told in Hansen’s new book, The Birdman & the Lap Dancer: Close Encounters with Strangers. Hansen also joins local travel writers Graeme Lay, Graham Reid and Peta Mathias in a whistle-stop journey around the world in words. Graham Reid’s first book, Postcards From Elsewhere, will be out in time for the Festival.

Indian career diplomat, Vikas Swarup’s debut novel, Q & A, has taken the world by storm. Funny, humane and fascinating, it is the universal story of a poor man coming upon a fortune, in this case through a television quiz show. The writer talks about Q & A and his own personal rise to literary fame in an event appropriately named ‘Pot of Gold’.

Australian author Sue Woolfe (The Secret Cure) and London-based Stella Duffy (State of Happiness), write about women protagonists who create their own responses to the often baffling, male-dominated world of medical science in their latest books. They take this theme a step further in their on-stage discussion chaired by Women’s Bookshop owner, Carole Beu.

Stella Duffy, also a highly regarded actress with a background in comedy, will join fellow comedian and respected British crime writer Mark Billingham, alongside the international best-selling author Augusten Burroughs, reading the funniest bits from their books in an event that is bound to create more than a few ‘sore sides.’ Mark Billingham has worked as an actor, television writer and stand-up comedian. He is best known for his crime series featuring detective Tom Thorne for which he won a Sherlock Award for best crime novel. He will also be ‘plotting up a storm’ with fellow British novelist Alan Hollinghurst and New Zealand writers, Chris Else and Jenny Pattrick when they spread some light on the art of story construction.

More Local Writers

Douglas Lloyd Jenkins, author of the bestseller At Home: A History of New Zealand Design talks with the women who have influenced our interiors: Jill Malcolm, ex ‘Home & Building’ and ‘NZ Architecture’, and Lindsey Dawson who was the successful editor of ‘Next’, ‘More’ and ‘Grace’ magazines. Gardening gurus and writers Lynda Hallinan, Sue Linn, Harvey McQueen and Maggie Barry ponder whether fashion has reached ludicrous and damaging heights with contemporary gardening.

The lull and dreamscape of a voice reading out loud to us remains one of life’s most accessible pleasures. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear some of New Zealand’s most evocative writers read, including Shonagh Koea, dancer and choreographer Douglas Wright and Sarah Quigley read from their latest works. Fellow Auckland poets Sue Fitchett, Murray Edmond, C K Stead, Sonja Yelich and Paula Green read and discuss our city as a demanding muse. Peter Simpson sets the picture and chairs the event ‘Small and Perfectly Formed’ an ode to the novella with Mike Johnson, Elizabeth Knox and Chad Taylor.

And in an event reminiscent of the ‘Antiques Road Show’, Auckland City Libraries’ Special Collections Librarian Georgia Prince, Maud Cahill from Jason’s Books and Miriam Shaw from Bethunes@Webb’s, will talk about our literary heritage and will be on hand to examine the audience’s literary treasures.

The Auckland Writers & Readers Festival Charitable Trust gratefully acknowledges the assistance of major sponsors: Lion Foundation, New Zealand Herald, Buddle Findlay, Creative New Zealand, Delmaine Fine Foods and the Hilton Auckland.

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