One of the world’s most lauded and elusive literary greats, Haruki Murakami, will appear at this year’s Auckland Writers Festival which takes place from 13-17 May at the Aotea Centre.
Exclusive to Auckland, Murakami will feature in one session only at the festival, on Saturday 16 May at 7.30pm.
Festival director Anne O’Brien says Murakami’s acceptance is a huge honour.
“Haruki Murakami is a literary superstar and someone continually invited to Festivals around the world but little seen. His attendance is a wonderful coup for Auckland and New Zealand.”
Known for his surrealist writing, Murakami’s popularity saw fans queuing outside Waterstones bookstore in Piccadilly, London last August from5pm for an event that began at 11am the following day.
Now in its 15th year, the Auckland Writers Festival plays host to more than 150 writers over five days of ideas, readings, debates, stand-up poetry, literary theatre, children’s writers and free family events. The Festival saw a 45 percent increase in ticket sales last year, with more than 55, 000 attendees and many sessions sold out.
The biggest UK children’s author to debut this century, David Walliams of Little Britain and QI fame, and Dav Pilkey aka Captain Underpants will also appear the Festival.
Ms O’Brien says programming Walliams and Pilkey symbolises the festival’s commitment to encouraging a love of books and reading in people of all ages.
“David Walliams and Dav Pilkey are funny, irreverent, clever and, above all else, brilliant writers. We have made both of these events FREE for children under 12 years of age,” says Ms O’Brien.
They join a heady line-up of novelists, poets, thinkers, scientists, historians, playwrights and children’s literary stars including: one of the world’s most influential medical writers Atul Gawande who will talk about his most recent work Being Mortal: Medicine and What Happens in the End; the Festival’s 2015 Honoured New Zealand writer C.K. Stead; Helen Macdonald, winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award 2014 with her stunning Memoir H is for Hawk; actor, writer, broadcaster, director, producer and musician Alan Cumming; UK poet laureateCarol Ann Duffy; internationally-acclaimed NZ singer/songwriter Hollie Fullbrook (aka TINY RUINS); journalist and media critic for The New Yorker Ken Auletta whose books include Googled: The End of the World as We Know It; multi-award-winning New Zealand poet and art historian Gregory O’Brien; much-loved Australian food writer Stephanie Alexander; globally renowned Kiwi visual artist and writerGrahame Sydney; Australian National Living Treasure Tim Winton; British investigative journalist Nick Davies, responsible for uncovering the News of the World phone hacking affair; New Zealand’s favourite satirical writer Steve Braunias; multi-award winning novelist David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas, The Bone Clocks); Booker Prize winning novelist and poet Ben Okri; England’s insatiable scientist Philip Ball who has written on just about everything – from how music works to his most recent book: Serving the Reich: The Struggle for the Soul of Physics Under Hitler; Australia’s biggest-selling non-fiction writer Peter FitzSimons; critically acclaimed novelist Helen Garner whose most recent novel is The House of Grief; The Good Women of China writer Xinran who will talk about her latest work Buy Me The Sky; multi-award winning New Zealand novelist Witi Ihimaera; globally-celebrated British author of Alex Rider fame, Anthony Horowitz; New Zealand playwright Fiona Samuel and New York’s most irresistible literary critic Daniel Mendelsohn.
The 2015 Great Kiwi Classic
New Zealand Book Council director Catriona Ferguson says choosing this year’s Great Kiwi Classic was made difficult due to the compelling arguments put forth by passionate readers in favour of their choice book.
“We received hundreds of nominations for books of all persuasions. It was fascinating to read through the nominations and to realise how much love there is for our country’s writers and their books.
“This year’s choice stood out from the others not only for the extraordinary writing, but also because of her standing in our country’s literary and social history,” says Ms Ferguson.
The 2015 Great Kiwi Classic is Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame.
Special events snapshot
DAMIAN BARR’S LITERARY SALON. Toast of the London literary scene, UKs ‘enfant terrible’ Damian Barr brings his wit to town for the first New Zealand edition of his literary salon. Join him for cocktails as he chats with visiting international writers Emily St John Mandel, Zia Haider Rahman and Ben Okri at SEAFARERS, BRITOMART, TUESDAY MAY 12 – 6.00-8.30PM.
NEW ZEALAND LISTENER GALA NIGHT: TRUE STORIES TOLD LIVE: STRAIGHT TALKING. Eight writers deliver a seven-minute true story, propless and scriptless. Featuring NZ comedian and author Michele A’Court, lauded US novelist and short story writer Amy Bloom,The Good Wife star and memoirist Alan Cumming, former Wallaby, sports columnist and author Peter FitzSimons, Australian public intellectual and writer Helen Garner, Waitangi Tribunal member, lecturer and co-author of seminal book Tangata Whenua Aroha Harris; Melbourne-based New Zealand short story writer Nic Low; and Booker Prize winning Nigerian novelist Ben Okri. ASB THEATRE, AOTEA CENTRE, THURSDAY 14 MAY 7.00-8.30PM.
FAMILY DAY returns on Sunday May 17 with five 30-minute sessions for children aged 5-10, and another five short story-reading sessions for the under-5s. Presenters include Donovan Bixley, Trish Gribben & Judy Miller, Jenny Palmer, Sally Sutton, Zak Waipara and Philippa Werry. HERALD THEATRE, AOTEA CENTRE. Sessions are free but ticketed and booked through Ticketmaster.
THE UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND FESTIVAL DEBATE. In a year where freedom of expression is being severely tested, we ask whether the right to offend is absolute? The New Yorker media correspondent Ken Auletta; UK investigative journalist Nick Davies; English comedian and classicist Natalie Haynes; and Indian/Canadian novelist and scientist Jaspreet Singh argue the toss with Linda Clarkkeeping things democratically on track. ASB THEATRE, AOTEA CENTRE, WEDNESDAY MAY 13 – 8.00-9.30PM.
SHAKESPEAREAN SPINACH. What do Popeye, the Dude, R2-D2 and Quentin Tarantino have in common? That would be The Bard of Avon. Join Notre Dame University professor Peter Holland – University of Auckland’s Alice Griffin – Fellow in Shakespeare Studies as they talk Shakespearean spin-offs, mash-ups, dramatisations and novelisations, not to mention the success authors are having turning cult films into dramas using something approximating blank verse. CLOCK TOWER 039, 22 PRINCES STREET THURSDAY MAY 14 – 5.00-6.00PM. Free event.
AN EVENING WITH ALAN CUMMING. Scottish Manhattan-based actor Alan Cumming has built a fine career with roles ranging fromTaggart and The Good Wife on TV, to the X-Men films, and Cabaret and Macbeth on the stage. Most recently he’s turned his attention to family history: in his lauded memoir Not My Father’s Son. Cumming will discuss this and more with Michael Hurst. ASB THEATRE, AOTEA CENTRE, FRIDAY MAY 15 – 7.15-8.30PM
THE WORLD’S WIFE. British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy joins actors Fiona Samuel and Rachel House in a performance of The World’s Wife, Duffy’s poetry collection of the same name in which unappreciated women are given free rein. Join them for hilarious renditions of Queen Herod and Frau Freud as well as Queen Kong, the Kray Sisters and Mrs Aesop. Dave Long provides musical accompaniment to the readings. LIMELIGHT ROOM, AOTEA CENTRE, FRIDAY MAY 15 – 8.30-9.45PM and SATURDAY MAY 16 – 9.00-10.15PM.
HONOURED NEW ZEALAND WRITER 2015: C.K. STEAD. A distinguished novelist, literary critic, poet, essayist and Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Auckland, Stead is one of New Zealand’s foremost literary figures. His singular place in the cultural life of this country is celebrated in this free session to end the Festival. ASB THEATRE, AOTEA CENTRE
SUNDAY MAY 17 – 6.00-7.00PM.
LUNCH WITH STEPHANIE ALEXANDER. Food queen and face of an Australian 60 cent stamp Stephanie Alexander joins a lucky few to talk of cooking, as well as the now global kitchen garden movement she kick-started to encourage children to grow and cook their own food. SAILS RESTAURANT, WESTHAVEN MARINA, AUCKLAND, THURSDAY MAY 14 – 12.00-2.15PM.
DALLOWAY. Returning to the Festival after sell-out performances of Austen’s Women, Rebecca Vaughan returns with her latest hit: a stage adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. This five-star Edinburgh 2014 success has been hailed as accomplished, thoughtful and poignant. WINTERGARDEN, CIVIC. VARIOUS TIMES, see www.writersfestival.co.nz for programming.
THE MICHAEL KING MEMORIAL LECTURE. TROUBLE IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA. Author and BBC journalist Bill Hayton dissects the complexity, and the absurdity, of the current geo-political struggle for the South China Sea. LOWER NZI ROOM, AOTEA CENTRE,SUNDAY MAY 17 – 12.00-1.00PM.
THE WEEKEND GALLERY SERIES FEATURES UK Scientist extraordinaire Philip Ball, Professor Penguin aka Lloyd Spencer Davisand influential Australian artist Jim Allen. All in the AUCKLAND ART GALLERY AUDITORIUM. VARIOUS TIMES – SEE PROGRAMME FOR DETAILS.
Tickets to the festival go on public sale from 9.00am, Thursday 19 March from www.ticketmaster.co.nz , by calling 0800 111 999, by post to Auckland Writers Festival: Bookings, Ticketmaster NZ, PO Box 106 443, Auckland 1143 or in person at the Aotea Centre box office or any authorised ticketmaster seller.
The Auckland Writers Festival warmly thanks its Gold Partners: The University of Auckland, Freemasons Foundation, New Zealand Listener, ASB Community Trust, Creative New Zealand and ATEED; and all our Silver, Bronze and Supporting Partners.
We are enormously grateful to our Festival patrons for their enthusiasm and generosity.
For the full 2015 Auckland Writers Festival programme go to www.writersfestival.co.nz.