New Zealand speakers
Among the Kiwi contingent you can expect during Writers Week are: author and illustrator Paul Beavis; raconteur, columnist and now novelist Joe Bennett; much loved children’s author Joy Cowley; banned author Ted Dawe; Waitangi Tribunal member, historian and poet Aroha Harris; World Adventure Racing Champion Nathan Fa’avae; librettist, playwright, screenwriter and author Witi Ihimaera; fiction writer and creative writing teacher Paula Morris; writer and performer Courtney Sina Meredith; science historian Rebecca Priestley; bestselling novelist and sector advocate Catherine Robertson; and poet and Man Booker Prize-longlisted novelist Anna Smaill (pictured).
Muriel Barbery’s novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog has sold over five million copies worldwide. Her latest novel, The Secret Life of Elves, will be released in Australia and New Zealand in March 2016. It picks up many of the themes from Barbery’s previous work: the beauty in everyday things, the transformative influence of art and literature, and the power of love.
If anyone knows how to write a page-turning intertextual fantasy novel, it’s Jasper Fforde, and readers who enjoy a farce but haven’t discovered him yet are in for a treat. Critics compare him to Douglas Adams and fans hold a regular festival, the Fforde Ffiesta. With four series on the go, he will be joining us on the publication of his first standalone novel.
A hero for misfits, rascals and dyslexics, Sally Gardner is a multi-award-winning children’s author whose mission is to wake people up about kids with learning difficulties, and provide stories that appeal to those whose worldview is slightly different — just like her own. A dyslexic herself, and deemed unteachable at school, she has written books for children of all ages and been translated into more than 22 languages.
Anis Mojgani is a prince in the spoken word and slam poetry movement, a two-time US National Poetry Slam Champion, with a particularly engaging and uplifting style. When he appeared in New Zealand in 2014, he won many hearts and minds, and we’re delighted to be bringing him back, in association with his previous presenters, WORD Christchurch and Golden Dawn in Auckland.
From being an editor-at-large at Esquire magazine and contributing editor of the London Review of Books to ghost-writing Julian Assange’s never-materialised memoir, Andrew O'Hagan is not afraid to get his teeth into challenging, contemporary subjects. His latest novel, The Illuminations, was longlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize and, like many of his books, is an original enquiry into the human experience.
As a foreign correspondent, Christopher McDougall covered wars in Rwanda and Angola before becoming inspired to write one of the world’s most acclaimed books on running, Born to Run. Next, the stories of World War II resistance fighters caught his attention, and he explores their extraordinary feats of endurance in his second book, Natural Born Heroes.
Staunch and original, Mariko Tamaki is an artist and writer best known for her graphic novel Skim, a collaboration with her cousin Jillian Tamaki. Like much of her work, it centres on adolescence, being a misfit, and the awkwardness and confusion of the teenage years. Tamaki confronts bravely yet sensitively issues such as self-harm, suicide, sexual orientation, taboo relationships and relationships in general.
Earlier this year, Forbes magazine named Mallory Ortberg one of the “new guard” of media makers, influencers and game changers in its annual “30 under 30” list. She’s an outspoken, vital voice online and co-founder of the website The Toast. Her first book, Texts from Jane Eyre, reimagines conversations between literary characters as though they were occurring by text in contemporary time.
Nnedi Okorafor's African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism is stark and evocative, tackling political and philosophical issues. Her novel Lagoon was a finalist in the British Science Fiction Awards. In a genre not bursting with women of colour, Okorafor is a leader and inspiration, and someone to read for those who feel alienated by other science fiction.
With a background in genetics and evolutionary biology, Adam Rutherford is a contributor to The Guardian, presenter of BBC Radio’s Inside Science, an award-winning documentary maker, and author of an ambigram book, Creation: The Origin of Life/The Future of Life. As a science adviser, his movie credits include World War Z and Ex Machina.
Patrick Gale's many novels since his brilliantly titled 1985 debut, The Aerodynamics of Pork, are known for their acuity coupled with heart and soul. Combining family history with a personal story to tell, his latest novel, A Place Called Winter, follows across the Canadian prairies a man eventually confronted with the question of his own identity.
With 25 books to his name, Simon Winchester is a maven of popular narrative history. He is renowned for his books on subjects such as the eruption of Krakatoa and the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. His more recent works include Atlantic and now Pacific, where he once again marries scholarship with a remarkable gift for storytelling.
With books such as Night Letters and Twilight of Love: Travels with Turgenev, Robert Dessaix is one of Australia’s finest writers. In his fiction and non-fiction, he takes events from his own life to explore wider themes of travel, religion, love in its various forms and what a good life is. His latest memoir, What Days Are For, growing out of a serious brush with death, is vintage Dessaix.
Cornelia Funke — aka the “JK Rowling of Germany” — writes magical narratives that have been delighting children of all ages for more than 20 years, particularly now The Thief Lord, Inkheart and the Ghosthunters series are movies. As well as keeping younger audience members spellbound, Funke will talk about how her early career as a children’s social worker has influenced her. She joins us courtesy of the Goethe-Institut.