Auckland Writers Festival announces 2017 line-up

by Ryan J Holder / 15 March, 2017

A record 42 international writers have been announced for this year’s Auckland Writers Festival.

The line-up is billed as the “most varied and expansive programme yet” and includes high-profile Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin, American feminist authors Susan Faludi and Roxane Gay, New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman, Veep creator and Scottish television satirist Armando Iannucci, America’s first winner of the Man Booker Prize Paul Beatty, and American atheist and theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss.

Also appearing is George Saunders, author of New York Times No. 1 non-fiction bestseller Lincoln in the Bardo, and who is profiled in the Listener’s next issue out March 20.

The festival has grown exponentially in the past 16 years, becoming the nation’s biggest and most star-studded literary event. But director Anne O’Brien says the time is right to further expand the festival.

“The last few years have seen unprecedented interest in the festival from audiences who travel not only from all over Auckland, but around the country and abroad to listen to globally lauded writers and ideas.”

George Sanders. Photo/Getty Images

Local literary talent is also on show with appearances from the likes of award-winning novelist Catherine Chidgey, New Zealand’s most respected theologian Lloyd Geering (at 99 years-old), doctor and poet Glenn Coquhoun, best-selling novelist Jenny Pattrick, and many, many more.

The official start date is May 16, but Iannucci, the creator of The Thick of It and Veep  jumps the gun with an early appearance in the Auckland Town Hall on April 29.

Other notable events include: The Ten Food Commandments with Observer restaurant food critic and Masterchef judge Jay Rayner (May 16); The Great Divide – wealth, race, gender or geography – a debate about the ‘hot button’ issues with British writer John Lanchester, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and author Susan Faludi, Australian broadcaster Stan Grant and Kiwi writer Paula Morris (May 17); True Stories Told Live: The Heart of the Matter, featuring no-prop, ad-lib seven minute true stories told by Kiwis Gina Cole and Glenn Colquhoun, Canadian transgender spoken-word performer Ivan Coyote, Man Booker Prize-winning Irish novelist Anne Enright, Kiwi theologian Lloyd Geering, Chinese-American poet and novelist Ha JinIan Rankin and South African priest Mpho Tutu van Furth (May 18); and the final event of the festival, an hour with Dame Fiona Kidman (May 21).

The Auckland Writers Festival runs from May 16-21, primarily at the Aotea Centre, but some events are held elsewhere.

Full list of international writers

  • American Man Booker prize-winner Paul Beatty
  • American writer and NYT bestseller Brit Bennett
  • Canadian novelist and Ockham book award judge Madeleine Thien
  • Australian writer and foreign correspondent Caroline Brothers
  • British historian, biographer and winner of the Orwell Prize Miranda Carter
  • English children’s author Lauren Child 
  • Nigerian-American writer, photographer and art historian Teju Cole
  • Irish singer and author Mary Couglan
  • Transgender spoken-word performer and writer Ivan Coyote
  • Italian writer Viola Di Grado
  • “Pakeha-Londoner” writer and theatremaker Stella Duffy
  • Scottish poet and playwright Carol Ann Duffy
  • Man Booker Prize-winning Irish novelist Anne Enright
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author Susan Faludi
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and NYT columnist Thomas Friedman
  • American theoretical physicist, cosmologist and prominent atheist Lawrence Krauss
  • American writer and filmmaker Chris Kraus
  • English novelist and journalist John Lanchester
  • American feminist writer Roxane Gay
  • American author and historian of science James Gleick
  • Australian journalist and broadcaster Stan Grant
  • British children’s writer Frances Hardinge
  • Scottish writer and director Armando Iannucci
  • Chinese-American poet and novelist Ha Jin
  • American Poet, playwright and author Denis Johnson
  • Australian science fiction and fantasy writer Amie Kaufman
  • Canadian poet Rupi Kaur
  • Libyan writer Hisham Matar
  • American novelist Jennifer Niven
  • Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin
  • British restaurant critic and writer Jay Rayner
  • American author and journalist Russ Rymer
  • Scottish musician and actor John Sampson
  • American short-story writer and essayist George Saunders
  • American journalist and Shanghai correspondent Rob Schmitz
  • British actor and playwright Rebecca Vaughan
  • Swedish journalist and writer Steve Sem-Sandberg
  • Shakespeare scholar and professor of English and comparative literature James S Shapiro
  • Australian multi-platform artist Nadia Sunde
  • South African priest and writer Mpho Tutu van Furth
  • British writer and newspaper columnist AN Wilson

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