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Article  •  15 May 2024

 

Penguin Authors at Auckland Writers Festival

We've got some amazing authors appearing at this year's Auckland Writers Festival, so we thought we'd collate all of their events in one place. Hope to see you there!

Fungi of Aotearoa Liv Sisson

Forager, fungi enthusiast and Ockham NZ Book Awards shortlisted Olivia ’Liv’ Sisson has been enchanted by the minutiae of nature for as long as she can remember. Raised in the US where she first learned how to spot small wonders in the Blue Ridge Mountains, she has spent countless hours exploring the flora, fauna and fungi that define her treasured adopted home of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Join her for an illustrated journey through the unique and diverse fungi our country has to offer, as she shares her tips for identifying species and cooking with the best edible varieties, as well as discussing the remarkable story of how these incredible organisms have shaped the world as we know it and the role they are playing in modern medical and environmental research. She talks to Sonya Wilson.

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Pacific Arts Aotearoa Lana Lopesi

Ockham NZ Book Awards longlisted Pacific Arts Aotearoa spans six decades of Pacific creativity to honour the multi-dimensional, fresh and energetic contributions of Pacific artists to Aotearoa New Zealand, Oceania and the world.

Bringing together the contributions of more than 120 artists, curators and community voices, it traces a fascinating and multi-faceted history, from the Dawn Raids to the burst of Polynesian creativity in the 1990s, right through to the current battle against climate change.

Indira Stewart meets the book’s project editor Faith Wilson, along with contributors Rosanna Raymond and Pelenakeke Brown in a wide-ranging discussion about how this groundbreaking anthology came to life, and the rich history of Pacific arts it tells.

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Grand Noelle McCarthy

In 2023 Irish authors made up 50% of the 2023 Booker Prize shortlist and when Paul Lynch took the prize for Prophet Song, he became the sixth Irish novelist to do so in the prize’s less than 60 year history.

Add that to the country’s four Nobel Prize Literature Laureates, and being the home of some of the most impactful classic and contemporary writers of our time, our panel explores: what is it about the Emerald Isle that produces such a concentration of great writers and writing?

Irish Book Awards winner Sinéad Gleeson and Ockham New Zealand Book Awards winner Noelle McCarthy join Kiran Dass to discuss the lauded literary output of their small but mighty isle.

And as two island nations of comparable populations, what links exist between the literature of Ireland and of Aotearoa New Zealand?

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Bird Child and Other Stories Patricia Grace

Master short story writer Alice Munro described short fiction as “a world seen in a quick glancing light”. Though minimalist in word count, the short story is big on impact and ideas.

What is it about this form that connects so deeply with readers? And what is required to make a good work of short fiction?

Airini Beautrais meets one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most celebrated fiction writers Patricia Grace (Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa, Te Ati Awa); New York Times best-selling author and editor of The Best Short Stories 2023, US author Lauren Groff, and Ockham NZ Book Awards longlisted debut author of Ruin and Other Stories Emma Hislop (Kai Tahu) to discuss.

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With a range of literary prizes aimed at under 35s, and a bidding war for the next great 20- or 30-something writer rarely far from industry headlines, we hear from a stellar range of novelists about what greater life experience can bring to fiction and the crafting of characters.

Anna Rawhiti-Connell meets master novelist and PEN/Faulkner award-winner Ann Patchett, phenomenally successful (and debut novelist at 64) writer of Lessons in Chemistry Bonnie Garmus and esteemed Aotearoa New Zealand author Patricia Grace (Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa, Te Ati Awa) to discuss what a longer life view can bring to the page.

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There’s a Cure for This: A Memoir Emma Wehipeihana (Espiner)

We’re regularly told to “not sweat the small stuff” but what about the (really) big stuff? With our planet getting hotter, mental and physical healthcare under strain, and the most foundational indigenous rights being debated amidst

a global backdrop of war and disruption, there is no shortage of “big stuff” to carry at the moment.

Three writers join Dr Emma Espiner (Ngati Tukorehe, Ngati Porou) (There’s a Cure for This) to discuss Maori perspectives on confronting and handling big existential challenges: author of The Bone TreeAirana Ngarewa (Ngati Ruanui, Nga Rauru, Ngaruahine) whose writing explores how whanau and iwi can survive and rise above the systems that fail them; Chief Executive of Forest and Bird Nicola Toki, whose Tangata Tiriti approach to advocacy for te taiao comes at a critical moment for Aotearoa’s environment; and writer and suicide survivor Rob Mokaraka who is invited to communities and organisations with his story of attempted suicide-by-cop in his kaupapa, Shot Bro to help address trauma.

Together they discuss how they confront life’s hardest parts and find a way through.

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Critters of Aotearoa Nicola Toki, Lily Duval

We’re regularly told to “not sweat the small stuff” but what about the (really) big stuff? With our planet getting hotter, mental and physical healthcare under strain, and the most foundational indigenous rights being debated amidst

a global backdrop of war and disruption, there is no shortage of “big stuff” to carry at the moment.

Three writers join Dr Emma Espiner (Ngati Tukorehe, Ngati Porou) (There’s a Cure for This) to discuss Maori perspectives on confronting and handling big existential challenges: author of The Bone TreeAirana Ngarewa (Ngati Ruanui, Nga Rauru, Ngaruahine) whose writing explores how whanau and iwi can survive and rise above the systems that fail them; Chief Executive of Forest and Bird Nicola Toki, whose Tangata Tiriti approach to advocacy for te taiao comes at a critical moment for Aotearoa’s environment; and writer and suicide survivor Rob Mokaraka who is invited to communities and organisations with his story of attempted suicide-by-cop in his kaupapa, Shot Bro to help address trauma.

Together they discuss how they confront life’s hardest parts and find a way through.

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The Cleaner Paul Cleave

2023 was a big year for crime writing in Aotearoa New Zealand. Michael Bennett (Ngati Pikiao, Ngati Whakaue) won Best First Novel at the Ngaio Marsh Awards with Better the Blood; internationally best-selling author Paul Cleave released his newest spine-tingling crime thriller His Favourite Graves; and Gavin Strawhan won the 2023 Allen & Unwin Fiction Prize for The Call.

But you don’t need to be a detective to find the strong links to the screen with these three writers. Bennett is working on bringing Better the Blood to the screen alongside penning the sequel Return to Blood, and he wrote the crime series The Gone which won Best TV Drama at the 2023 NZ TV Awards; Cleave wrote the series screenplay for his debut novel The Cleaner that will premiere this year; and Strawhan had an extensive and lauded career as a screenwriter before publishing The Call.

With Eileen Merriman they discuss crafting compelling crime narratives for both page and screen, and what’s involved in moving a piece of work between the two.

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The Space Between Lauren Keenan

Elisabeth Easther meets three writers who have combined meticulous research of Aotearoa New Zealand and Australian history with gripping storytelling to create some of the year’s most page-turning books with women at their centre.

Olivia Spooner’s no. 1 bestseller The Girl From London follows a young school teacher escorting children evacuated from war-torn England to Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand; Lauren Keenan’s (Te Ati Awa ki Taranaki) The Space Between is about the unbreakable bonds of whenua and family amid the New Zealand Wars in 1860 and in Barbara Sumner’s The Gallows Bird an ostracised young woman’s desperate actions cast her on course to one of Australia’s early convict settlements.

Together they discuss the detailed research process behind their books, and the craft of bringing history thrillingly to life in fiction.

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The Art of Winning Dan Carter

Step inside the mind of a sporting legend as Dan Carter – the most capped All Blacks No. 10 of all time, superstar of international rugby and winner of two Rugby World Cups – shares his “perfect ten” lessons on leadership, strength and resilience.

Distilled from two decades at the frontier of high-performance sport, Carter discusses with Duncan Greive how to evolve as a leader, empower others, forge a winning team culture and combine confidence and self-belief with humility to great effect.

Whether you’re a leader on a steep learning curve, a person navigating change in their life or just someone trying to get a little bit better every day, don’t miss this invigorating hour with one of the most impactful and inspirational sports stars of our time.

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My First Words About Tikanga Māori Stacey Morrison, Kurawaka Productions

In this interactive session with life-sized illustrations, waiata and haka, best-selling author and te reo Maori champion Stacey Morrison (Te Arawa, Ngai Tahu) will invite tamariki to bring her new pukapuka to life. Come have some fun, learn something new and embrace aspects of Maori culture that hold adventure and fun.

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Dad Man Walking Toby Morris

Sharpen your pencils: two of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most skilled illustrators are ready to battle and we need your help! Tell Giselle Clarkson (The Observologist) and Toby Morris (The Spinoff) what to draw and each will sketch a whole creature and world in front of your eyes against a ticking clock. Have your pencils and paper ready so you can doodle along with them.

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Lessons in Chemistry Bonnie Garmus

To list every outlet that nominated Bonnie Garmus’ Lessons in Chemistry as a “Book of the Year”, well, we would need a bigger programme... The close to seven million copy-selling global sensation of a novel about a female scientist-turned-TV-cooking star kicking against the conventions of 1960s America has received countless accolades from the literary world and includes everyone from Nigella Lawson to Stephen King as its famous fans.

Making it all the more extraordinary is the fact it is Garmus’ very first book, published when the author was 64, following another successful career as a copywriter and creative director working in the fields of technology, medicine and education.

Michele A’Court meets her to discuss her phenomenally successful book and hear about her remarkable journey.

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With a range of literary prizes aimed at under 35s, and a bidding war for the next great 20- or 30-something writer rarely far from industry headlines, we hear from a stellar range of novelists about what greater life experience can bring to fiction and the crafting of characters.

Anna Rawhiti-Connell meets master novelist and PEN/Faulkner award-winner Ann Patchett, phenomenally successful (and debut novelist at 64) writer of Lessons in Chemistry Bonnie Garmus and esteemed Aotearoa New Zealand author Patricia Grace (Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa, Te Ati Awa) to discuss what a longer life view can bring to the page.

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Wifedom Anna Funder

Anna Funder is one of Australia’s most acclaimed and awarded writers, known for her remarkable renderings of real lives of courage, resistance and conscience lived against harsh backdrops.

Her internationally best-selling and Samuel Johnson Prize-winning Stasiland told the true stories of those who resisted the communist dictatorship of East Germany, while the Miles Franklin Prize-winning All That I Am was an homage to anti-Hitler activists living bravely but precariously in exile in London.

Her latest book, Wifedom – in which she upends the literary legacy of George Orwell to reveal his overlooked wife – has been hailed as a “masterpiece” by critics and named as a New York Times Notable Book of 2023.

RNZ’s Susie Ferguson meets her to discuss her exceptional work.

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Question 7 Richard Flanagan

Described by The Washington Post as “one of our greatest living novelists”, Booker Prize-winner Richard Flanagan’s new book Question 7 is being hailed as his best yet.

Spanning from his father’s experiences as a prisoner of war near Hiroshima at the time the atom bomb is dropped, to Flanagan’s home of Tasmania, it is a text that Tim Winton has praised as “the strangest and most beautiful memoir” he has read, and Peter Carey has commented that it may be “the most significant work of Australian art in the last one hundred years”.

Flanagan joins Simon Wilson to discuss his acclaimed work, and its exploration of how our lives so often arise out of the stories of others, and the stories we invent about ourselves.

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The Vaster Wilds Lauren Groff

Have a sitting president write to you praising your work isn’t an item many writers can check off their author bingo card, but three-time National Book Award finalist Lauren Groff can. So enamoured was President Obama with Groff’s 2015 novel Fates and Furies he named it his book of the year and wrote to the author personally to express his admiration.

Similar admiration from the literary world and readers followed for Groff’s Matrix, her short story collection Florida and her most recent novel The Vaster Wilds. Part historical fiction, part thriller, part survival adventure, it follows a spirited girl alone in the wilderness trying to survive (and Obama has remained a fan, for those curious – The Vaster Wilds also appeared on his 2023 list).

Don’t miss one of America’s finest contemporary writers in conversation with Claire Mabey as she discusses her lauded work, her unique approach to historical fiction and how, according to a New York Times interview, she wrote the first draft of The Vaster Wilds in iambic pentameter … “just for fun”

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What do the dystopian worlds of Fahrenheit 451Brave New World and 1984 all have in common? Banned books. And with literary censorship on the rise – in 2023 almost 2000 books were targeted for banning in America alone – the distinction between these fictional worlds and our own may not be as stark as we think.

Adam Dudding talks to three major creative figures fighting back against the bans: best-selling author and three-time National Book Award finalist Lauren Groff is opening a new bookshop in her home state of Florida dedicated to selling banned titles and books by marginalised writers; artist and Singapore Literature Prize-winning writer Shubigi Rao has dedicated a decade to documenting the history of censored books from all over the world; and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen, who credits reading so-called “dangerous literature” as what shaped him as a reader and writer, speaks and writes widely on the dangers of censorship.

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The Dictionary People Sarah Ogilvie

"What do three murderers, Karl Marx’s daughter and a collector from Dunedin have in common?

They all helped create the Oxford English Dictionary.

The Oxford English Dictionary has long been associated with elite institutions and Victorian men, but the Dictionary didn’t just belong to the experts; it relied on contributions from members of the public across the globe – the

“greatest crowdsourcing endeavour in human history” according to lexicographer, Oxford Dictionaries Chief Editor and author of The Women’s Prize for Non Fiction- longlisted The Dictionary PeopleSarah Ogilvie.

She joins Michele A’Court in conversation about the remarkable – and eclectic – network of people (including several New Zealanders, who contributed words such as pohutukawa, patiki and kakapo) who helped build one of the most impactful books of our time."

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The Story of Art without Men Katy Hessel

Whether it’s fronting BBC documentaries, being a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge, lecturing at The Guggenheim or building a 380k-strong community for her @thegreatwomenartists Instagram page, art historian, curator and broadcaster Katy Hessel’s career has been focused on putting women back into the story of art.

Her book, The Story of Art Without Men – a sumptuously illustrated history of women artists from 1500 to the present day – became a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller and was praised for appealing to both art connoisseurs, and to those newer to the field.

One of the art world’s most exciting voices, she meets NZ art curator Julia Waite to discuss her campaign for a more inclusive canon, and introduces some artists you won’t regret discovering.

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