TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION
PRESS RELEASE: IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2011 AUCKLAND WRITERS & READERS FESTIVAL
11 - 15 MAY | AOTEA CENTRE, THE EDGE® | WWW.WRITERSFESTIVAL.CO.NZ
The 2011 Auckland Writers & Readers Festival will hum with tales of human resilience – real life and fictional.
“Stories of struggle, sacrifice, and the instinct to maintain a capacity for compassion and human decency in the face of
tragedy and injustice are at the forefront of this year’s programme,” says Artistic Director Jill Rawnsley.
A number of this year’s guest writers are living proof of the adage “truth is stranger than fiction”. Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish’s I Shall Not Hate is an unforgettable biography, from his birth and childhood in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, to the tragic
loss of his three daughters during an Israeli incursion in January 2009. Ingrid Betancourt’s Even Silence Has An End is an extraordinary account of her internal and external struggle while enduring six and a half years’ captivity in the
Columbian jungle as a hostage of FARC. Hana Schofield and Atka Reid, now domiciled in New Zealand, share a heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting story of growing up in Sarajevo in the
1990s, Goodbye Sarajevo. Fatima Bhutto’s Songs of Blood and Sword takes us behind the scenes of one of the most powerful families in Pakistan. And James Fergusson shares his wealth of experience on the ground in Afghanistan.
“A festival is all about writers bringing their stories to life – and because we’re geographically distant, we have
precious few opportunities to gain understanding through direct contact with those who live with conflict. I’m
interested in ‘other’ sides of these stories,” says Rawnsley.
From the world of science, Naomi Oreskes’ Merchants of Doubt is a history of a cadre of influential scientists who have clouded public understanding of scientific facts to advance a
political and economic agenda. Ex-Greenpeace leader Paul Gilding’s The Great Disruption: How the Climate Crisis Will Transform the Global Economy is an action plan to deal with two linked challenges to human ingenuity and survival: climate change and the world
economic crisis. Barbara Strauch, the Medical and Science Editor of The New York Times, gives us hope that middle-aged brains aren’t necessarily hurtling downhill, but are eminently suited to resolving
complex issues. The Festival plans to co-host with The Allan Wilson Centre a major panel on ethics and the environment
featuring Oreskes, Gilding, and eminent evolutionary USA biologist Fred Allendorf.
Other guests include World War One expert Professor Jay Winter, Carolyn Burke who’s back (in 2007 she was in Auckland to talk about Lee Miller) with a new biography, No Regrets: The Life of Edith Piaf, and Rives, a spoken word performance poet and multimedia artist who regularly receives standing ovations at TED conferences.
A welcome focus on food brings to Auckland Indian cookery expert, actress and all-round fascinating individual Madhur Jaffrey, and the infamous restaurant critic, gourmet traveller and inveterate storyteller A.A. Gill.
Fiction aficionados will have the pleasure of spending time with the marvellous David Mitchell, short story specialist Claire Keegan, rising star David Vann (Caribou Island is receiving rave reviews), Gail Jones, Margo Lanagan, Garth Nix and Sean Williams from Australia, and a wealth of New Zealand writers, novelists and poets. A free event featuring past and present Poet
Laureates, sponsored by the National Library, brings Jenny Bornholdt, Michele Leggott, Bill Manhire, Cilla McQueen,
Elizabeth Smither and Brian Turner to Auckland. Local writers confirmed to date include: Laurence Fearnley, Dylan
Horrocks, Douglas Lloyd Jenkins, Mary Kisler, Joanna Preston, Hana Schofield & Atka Reid, Ant Sang, Chris Slane, Robert Sullivan, Tina Makereti, Frances Walsh and Vincent Ward.
2011 Guests Announced
International guests, in alphabetical order, confirmed to date (please see the biographical information attached):
Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish, I Shall Not Hate (Palestine);
Ingrid Betancourt, Even Silence Has an End (France/Columbia);
Fatima Bhutto, Songs of Blood and Sword (Pakistan);
Carolyn Burke, No Regrets: The Life of Edith Piaf (Australia);
James Fergusson, Taliban (Scotland);
Paul Gilding, The Great Disruption (Australia);
A. A. Gill, Here and There (Scotland);
Madhur Jaffrey, Curry Easy (India/USA);
Gail Jones, Five Bells (Australia);
Claire Keegan, Foster (Ireland);
David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (UK);
Naomi Oreskes, Merchants of Doubt (USA);
Rives (USA); Barbara Strauch,
Secrets of the Middle-Aged Brain (USA);
David Vann, Caribou Island (USA).
Schools Programme guests are: Cassandra Clare (USA); Karen Healey (NZ/AUS); Margo Lanagan (AUS); Garth Nix (AUS); Meg
Rosoff (UK); and Sean Williams (AUS).
Special Events – Bookings from 10 March
The 2011 festival will feature ten Special Events: “Works with Words” on Wednesday 11 May, is a music and spoken word
performance of six new pieces inspired by New Zealand writers. The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Stuart Devenie
come together to bring them to life. The Soul Lunch features outspoken and eloquent speaker Fatima Bhutto. “New Zealand
Listener Night” on Thursday 12 May has a new format. Friday 13 May sees “The Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book
Prize Awards” presented by Barbara Strauch (Health and Medical Science Editor at The New York Times) before “An Audience with A.A. Gill”. Enjoy “High Tea” at the Langham Hotel on Saturday 14 May, and USA Slam Poetry
Champion Rives, the first “2.0 poet” and TED favourite appears in “Saturday Night Rives”. Sunday 15 May features a very
special lunch at The Langham Hotel with much-loved Indian food expert, cookbook writer and actress Madhur Jaffrey. “The
Long and Short of It Awards” and “Poetry Idol” finish the festival with a bang on Sunday evening. Michael Connelly
visits Auckland on Tuesday 24 May for a special appearance at a screening of “The Lincoln Lawyer”.
Wordy Day Out
We’re delighted to announce a new addition to the Festival programme: a special day celebrating Young Adult authors.
“Wordy Day Out”, at the University of Auckland Business School, will see Cassandra Clare, Meg Rosoff, Bernard Beckett,
Brian Falkner, Garth Nix, Sean Williams, Karen Healey, Mandy Hager, Margo Lanagan and Paula Morris take the stage.
Awards, Workshops and Free Events
The Festival hosts two awards in 2011: the award for “The Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book Prize” will be
presented by Barbara Strauch on Friday 13 May. The winners of a new competition sponsored by Unity Books and Sport, “The Long and Short of It Awards”, will be announced on Thursday 12 May and celebrated in a free event on Sunday 15
May. Due to their popularity in 2010, another series of writing workshops will be available during the Festival, along
with a diverse range of free events including: an Auckland Theatre Company play reading and discussion; a panel around
the Human Rights Foundation’s newly published Law into Action; and a session on the history of New Zealand housewifery!
This year’s programme for intermediate and secondary school students features:
Our intermediate/lower secondary day (Wednesday 11 May) features: Carnegie Medal-winner Meg Rosoff (UK); international bestsellers Garth Nix and Sean Williams from Australia; award-winning New Zealand author Brian Falkner; and renowned poet and storyteller Apirana Taylor from Paekakariki. The secondary school day (Thursday 12 May) features: Cassandra Clare (US), author of the bestselling Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series;
Meg Rosoff (UK); Australian authors Garth Nix, Sean Williams and Margo Lanagan; New Zealand writers Karen Healey, Apirana Taylor, Bernard Beckett and Mandy Hager; and stellar songwriter Annah Mac with Play It Strange CEO Mike Chunn.
Students are also being offered the opportunity to take a writing workshop with Brian Falkner, Apirana Taylor, Mandy
Hager and Bernard Beckett. Schools bookings are open now at www.buytickets.co.nz, and a downloadable Schools Programme
is available on the festival website at www.writersfestival.co.nz