Regrettably Dorothy Parker will not be attending the Auckland Writers Festival, but here she is, in 1937. (Photo by Jacob Lofman/Condé Nast via Getty Images)

10 surefire hits in the 2019 Auckland Writers Festival programme

The country’s biggest literary festival, Waituhi O Tāmaki, has just launched its programme, and it’s another ripsnorting lineup. Check out the whole thing here. Below, some of the events that are high on our list.

Shayne Carter chatting with John Campbell

The drool will be dripping from the rafters at the very idea of the snarling man from Straitjacket Fits in conversation with the charming man from the television. Carter’s forthcoming autobiography, Dead People I Have Known, is said to be marvellous.

Kate Raworth

“Renegade economist” delivered a timely rethink of the way markets work in Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist. She’s talking to Rod Oram.

Jeff Tweedy

The man behind one of the properly great American rock bands, Wilco, has been snared by the Auckland festival, and will discuss his songwriting and book-writing with Alex Behan. And Tweedy will play a tune or two, too, apparently.

Literally Lorne

A festival-within-a-festival, details of the Friday-night Lorne Street extravaganza are yet to be announced, but just look at this lineup and weep: Liam McIlvanney, Michele A’Court, Emma Espiner, Kirsty Gunn, Karyn Hay, Dominic Hoey, Stephanie Johnson, Renee Liang, Lana Lopesi, Courtney Sina Meredith, Karlo Mila, Tze Ming Mok, Emma Neale, Victor Rodger, Carl Shuker, Damian Skinner, Ian Wedde, Ashleigh Young.

Susan Orlean

Even in a field as terrifyingly good as New Yorker writers, Susan Orlean stands out. She’s doing a session in conversation with Simon Wilson, and a workshop, and something else. If she talks anywhere near as well as she writes, she’ll be worth the price.

Everyday Acts of Racism

An all-star cast respond to Taika Waititi’s observation that New Zealand is “racist as fuck”. They include the Spinoff’s own Leonie Hayden, Canadian guest David Chariandy, Jenny Erpenbeck from Germany, Victor Rodger and Carol Hirschfeld.

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He Kupu Tuku Iho: Tīmoti Kāretu

The formidable language expert Sir Tīmoti Kāretu talks with Scotty Morrison. “Primarily in te reo Māori with a smattering of English.” Free!

Jill Abramson

The former executive editor of the New York Times has written probably the most important book about journalism of the year: Merchants of Truth, which examines the state of play for old-school and digital players alike. She received an unwelcome publicity boost, too, when accusations of plagiarism were lodged. She’s talking to Spinoff editor Toby Manhire.

Man, Sitting in a Garden

Simon O’Neill singing, a libretto by Witi Ihimaera, the APO blaring away – and all “a neurochemical reaction” that “grows like a garden” based on the glorious paintings of Karl Maughan. What does it all mean? No idea.

Joy Cowley

A stone-cold legend of New Zealand writing who has sprinkled magic on thousands of Kiwi childhoods, Joy Cowley, 82, will be celebrated in a special (and free) event.


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