Big literary names, celebrity faces inform Auckland Writers Festival 2024 line up


L-R: Trent Dalton, Ann Patchett, Celeste Ng and Sam Neill. Images / Auckland Writers Festival
L-R: Trent Dalton, Ann Patchett, Celeste Ng and Sam Neill. Images / Auckland Writers Festival
Readers and writers are spoiled for choice as the rich line up for the Auckland Writers Festival 2024 is revealed.

Big literary names and lesser-known talents and even some celebrity faces are taking part in the host of events that make up the popular event, coming to the city in May.

Renown international authors Ann Patchett, Celeste Ng, Trent Dalton and booker prize winner Paul Lynch are amongst the line up providing significant drawcards, and well as live discussions from Sam Neill, Dai Henwood and Dan Carter.

Demand is likely to be hot as reading and discussing books experiences a significant resurgence. Book clubs are on the rise globally and social media is fueling the excitement, with BookTok posts gaining over 220b views. Stars including Reese Witherspoon and singer Florence Welch have even swapped beauty launches for their own reading groups.

The Auckland Writers Festival takes over the Aotea Centre and select venues across the city for one week from Tuesday 14th to Sunday 19th of May 2024. Tickets for each event are on sale now.

Auckland Writers Festival Highlights

· Bonnie Garmus (Lessons in Chemistry) comes to NZ for the first time to discuss her six million-copy selling debut novel (and ‘Book of the Year’ in every publication imaginable). She discusses her phenomenally successful book and remarkable journey with Michele A’Court.

· Iconic actor and one of our finest exports, Sam Neill joins fellow actor Robyn Malcolm to discuss his memoir Did I Ever Tell You This? in his first New Zealand book appearance.

· The latest Book Prize winner, Paul Lynch, sits down with Kim Hill to discuss winning the literary world’s most prestigious award for his novel Prophet Song, set in the Republic of Ireland as it slips into totalitarianism.

· A fireside chat between one of America’s most celebrated authors, Ann Patchett (Bel Canto, Tom Lake) and her friend and fellow bestselling author Meg Mason (Sorrow and Bliss)

· Becky Manawatu (Ngāi Tahu) in an exclusive early conversation about her next book Katarina, following on from the hugely successful bestseller Auē, which spent three-and-half-years on the bestseller list.

· One of the world’s best literary historians and global thinkers Peter Frankopan joins Finlay McDonald in his first ever NZ appearance, to discuss The Earth Transformed, a study on climate change’s effect on society throughout history, and his major debut The Silk Road.

· Leila Slimani (Watch us Dance), the award-winning author and journalist, one of Vanity Fair’s ‘Fifty Most Influential French People in the World’ and formerly French president Emmanuel Macron’s personal representative for the promotion of the French language and culture, meets Emily Perkins (Lioness) to discuss her extraordinary life and work.

· Celeste Ng (Little Fires Everywhere) sits down with Asian in Aotearoa’s Jenna Wee about her compelling novels and weaving societal critique into runaway bestsellers.

· Troy Kingi lays bare his creative process and invites the audience to help conceive, write and perform an entirely original waiata in under an hour.

· Trent Dalton (Boy Swallows Universe) sits down with Samantha Hayes to discuss his latest novel Lola in the Mirror, and the success of the Boy Swallows Universe Netflix adaptation.

· Lauren Groff (Fates and Furies) talks to Claire Mabey about her new novel The Vaster Wilds and what it’s like to have Obama write to you personally to praise your writing.

· Anna Funder (All That I Am, Stasiland) meets Susie Ferguson to discuss her bestselling latest novel based on the life of George Orwell’s wife, Wifedom.

· Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Before the Coffee Gets Cold series) talks to Maggie Tweedie about how his poignant, hopeful novels were born from a tragic loss at an early age, and his latest book in the million-copy selling series Before We Say Goodbye.

Panel highlights

· Three beloved writers, Patricia Grace (Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Raukawa and Te Āti Awa) (Bird Child), Ann Patchett and Bonnie Garmus discuss what their longer life experience brings to fiction in The Long View.

· Professor Peter Frankopan; author, politician and former international civil servant Shashi Tharoor (Inglorious Empire) and The Washington Post’s Asia-Pacific editor Anna Fifield (The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un) discuss the biggest election year in history – 2024 – in The Year The World Votes.

· NZ’s youngest MP Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Porou, Te Atiawa, Ngāi Tahu) and activist and redactor of Te Papa’s te reo Pākehā version of Te Tiriti Te Wehi Ratana (Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Pikiao, Te Roro o Te Rangi), discuss how the kōhanga reo generation is challenging Aotearoa to look at itself in a whole new way in The Kōhanga Reo Generation Is Here.

· Airana Ngarewa (Ngāti Ruanui, Ngā Rauru, Ngāruahine), Freddie Gillies (Because All Fades), and Avi Duckor-Jones (Max) discuss how kiwi men are portrayed in fiction in Writing the New Zealand Male.

· In 2023, over two thousand books were banned in America alone, and the trend is on the rise. Three authors with vested interest in the subject, Lauren Groff, Singapore Literature Prize-winning artist Shubigi Rao (Pulp Vol. 1-3) and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Sympathizer), come together to discuss in Pulp Friction: The Rise of Book Bans.

Returning events

· This year the families programme, Pukapuka Adventures, programmed by Gabrielle Vincent (formerly of Basement Theatre and Artistic Director of Tauranga Arts Festival) has trebled in size. On Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 May Pukapuka Adventures will take over the fifth floor of the Aotea Centre, with the liveliest weekend imaginable for kids. From a kids open-mic storytelling session, to dancing, zine-making, bug-hunting and more, Pukapuka has something for the entire family. This year will also include the first-ever app guided experience starting in Aotea Square and leading families on a short walk down Queen Street and surrounding laneways to experience Tim Tipene’s award-winning Pipi and Pou series.

· Festival Gala Night: on Thursday 16 May the beloved opening event of the Festival will feature a stellar line up of eight writers sharing a true and personal tale on the theme of ‘Choices and Chain Reactions’, the moment of choice that led them to where – and who – they are today. MCed by Miriama McDowell.

· STREETSIDE: Britomart: For one night only on Friday 17 May, writers, musicians and artists take to the streets from 6pm for an extravaganza of creative shenanigans in and around the Britomart Precinct. No ticket or registration required — just turn up and join the ride. Curated by the Festival’s new Programmer Manager, Rat World’s founder and one of Stuff’s ‘New Zealanders to Watch in ‘24’, Jennifer Cheuk.

· The 2024 Auckland Writers Festival Honoured Writer is Dame Anne Salmond and Te Kawehau Hoskins (Ngāti Hau, Ngāpuhi) meets her in a career spanning conversation.


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