Travels with Tim and Lisa

"If my discoveries are other people's commonplaces I cannot help it – for me they retain a momentous freshness" (Elizabeth Bowen)

Posts Tagged ‘Auckland Writers Festival’

Auckland Writers Festival: Andrew Sean Greer and David Chariadry

Posted by Lisa Hill on May 19, 2019

Sorry to bombard you with all these posts about the festival, I forgot to post them one by one!

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

Today was the last day of the Auckland Writers Festival, and just as well because having been to 15 events, I am tired out!

My last two sessions featured authors I haven’t yet read, but now surely will.  Andrew Sean Greer is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Less, which is about a mid-list author who makes a living going to writers’ festivals until he unexpectedly wins the Pulitzer prize.  Greer’s story about how he learned that he himself had won it was hilarious, especially when he suddenly received about 100 Tweets featuring bottles of champagne, balloons and applause, but he didn’t know why because the Pulitzer people announce it at an event he hadn’t attended.  I had initially thought that I wouldn’t bother with this book because I am a bit ‘over’ books about authors writing books, but I have changed my mind about this one!

The session with…

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Auckland Writers Festival: Carl Shuker in conversation with Simon Wilson

Posted by Lisa Hill on May 19, 2019

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

Carl Shuker is the author of A Mistake, which I read and reviewed just before coming over here for the festival.  But he has also written a number of other books, some of which sound very interesting indeed.

His first published book was called The Method Actors (2005)… which

in 2006 won the Prize in Modern Letters, then the world’s richest prize for an emerging author. ‘Brash and fearless,’ wrote the New York Times, ‘The Method Actors is a self-consciously postmodern challenge to our perceived reality and its fictional depiction’. The AV Club described it as a ‘mesmerizing opus…a serious accomplishment’. (Academy of NZ Literature website)

but it was not actually his first novel.  That was the semi-autobiographical novel The Lazy Boys which was published in 2006 after The Method Actors.  The chair, Simon Wilson, made a point of noting that the first novel announced Shuker as

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Auckland Writers Festival: An Inside Peek

Posted by Lisa Hill on May 19, 2019

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

An Inside Peek was what it said it was: a brief insight into the lives of five New Zealand authors.  Each of the five had five minutes to talk about their working day and then there was a kind of round-up by the chair, Owen Harris.

I am a bit embarrassed that I was too slow off the mark to get a screenshot of Tessa Duder’s writing place. I have the four others, but it seems all wrong that Tessa, who is an essayist, a novelist, and writer for children and young people, seems a bit sidelined in my slideshow.  Because children’s authors are the lifeblood of literacy: it is their books that bring people to love reading, and even if they don’t grow up to love books, they love the experience of being read to, and of talking about the issues raised in the books.  I used to be…

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Auckland Writers Festival: The Good Immigrant

Posted by Lisa Hill on May 19, 2019

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

It was nobody’s fault, but I was a little bit disappointed that Iranian-American Porochista Khakpour wasn’t part of the panel for this session, because she (the author of The Last Illusion) was the very reason I bought a ticket for it.  Unfortunately she had to withdraw from the festival altogether because of ill-health, but there were other interesting authors to listen to, so I enjoyed the session anyway.

However, (and I’ll say this first, to get it out of the way), I don’t think the moderator Noelle McCarthy gave enough attention to Rosabel Tan, the curator and editor of a New Zealand online arts magazine, The Pantograph Punch.  The topic was immigration and belonging, which is probably just as important an issue in New Zealand as it is anywhere else, but the questions were nearly all directed to Alexander Chee (of Korean-American heritage) and Elaine Castillo (who’s of…

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Auckland Writers Festival: In conversation with Anne Michaels

Posted by Lisa Hill on May 17, 2019

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

The Canadian writer Anne Michaels is renowned as a poet, novelist and essayist, best known for her award-winning debut novel Fugitive Pieces (1996, see my review here) but also for The Winter Vault (2009) and seven collections of poems.  In 2015 she was the poet laureate for Toronto, seeking as she said, language for the inexpressible, exploring the difference between silence and muteness, and she began the session by reading a couple of poems that she said were written in the wake of the loss of people she loved best.

In conversation, she chooses her words carefully.  Writing is a rigorous discipline, and she doesn’t agree with manipulating language to suit an agenda.  Certainty, she thinks, usually leads to something false.  It’s what you want to say that determines how you write it, and that’s part of the relationship between the reader and the writer. 

Mysteries like the…

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Auckland Writers Festival: Pūrākau: Māori Myths Retold

Posted by Lisa Hill on May 16, 2019

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

Pūrākau: Māori Myths Retold took place in the Heartland Festival room, which is a bit like the Melbourne Festival’s Melba Spiegeltent.  It’s a most congenial venue, especially if you get there early like we did and enjoy a glass of bubbly at the cabaret-style seating with a table and comfortable velvet padded seating.

The event was an opportunity for readings from some of the Māori writers who contributed to the book Pūrākau: Māori Myths Retold.  The readers were some that I knew: Tina Makereti (see my reviews of two of her novels); Paula Morris (see my review of Rangatira); and Nic Low (whose short story collection Arms Race was a giveaway for Indigenous Literature Week in 2014).  Other readers were Kelly Joseph, Regan Taylor and Whiti Hereaka, and the whole performance was accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Kingsley Melhuish who blended brass and percussion instruments with conch shells…

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Auckland Writers Festival: Orlando (Dyad Productions)

Posted by Lisa Hill on May 16, 2019

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

We have just seen a magnificent stage adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando.  (See my review of the book here).

The performance was a special event for the Auckland Writers Festival, and this is the blurb:

A theatrical triumph and an intriguing exposition of art and identity: personal, sexual, national. Acclaimed British theatre company Dyad Productions present their latest offering – an adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s 1928 satire Orlando: A Biography – with their usual elan. The ageless, gender-fluid, immortal fictional poet Orlando, played by Rebecca Vaughan, sweeps through four centuries of English history. Vaughan’s turn is “towering” (The Scotsman), surpassing her artistry in previous Festival favourites Austen’s Women, Dalloway and Jane Eyre: An Autobiography. Written and directed by Elton Townend Jones.

Supported by Platinum Patrons Julienne Brown & David McLean.

Rebecca Vaughan was superb. In a one-woman performance lasting 90 minutes, she captured the playful…

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New Zealand Day 9: Auckland Writers Festival Event

Posted by Lisa Hill on May 14, 2019

Well, we’ve attended our first Auckland Writers Festival Event, a bespoke lunch with celebrity chef Tony Tan!

But we’ve also checked out the venue for the bookish events… and it is going to take all my self-control not to succumb to some very enticing books a *lot* of Air New Zealand excess baggage charges from the festival bookshop, which is already open.

The Aotea Centre is a stone’s throw from our hotel, but I managed to find some interesting buildings en route all the same.  Here’s the slideshow:

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You will have noticed that I slipped in a picture of Melbourne’s Forum Theatre… as soon as I saw the Auckland Civic Theatre, I recognised the style, and it didn’t take much searching to find that the similarity is owed to the designer John Eberson, who was an American promoter of what were called Atmospheric Theatres.  (If you’ve been inside our Forum Theatre, you know exactly what that means.  If not, click here to find out more).

So, back to our first festival event…

Tony Tan is a celebrity chef, Malaysian-born but based in Melbourne, and to celebrate the launch of his new cookbook Hong Kong Food City, he put on a special lunch at Nic Watt’s Masu restaurant here in Auckland.

Masu is actually a Japanese restaurant, and I asked the man who was obviously in charge of it (owner? maitre d’? head chef?) if it was stressful lending his restaurant to another chef, and he laughed and said yes, it was, because his chefs had no experience cooking Chinese food and before the event, there were lots of emails flying backwards and forwards seeking further instructions about how to do things.  Imagine it! The kitchen staff certainly deserved the sustained applause they got from the delighted patrons!

Anyway, here’s the slideshow… the chicken is inside that packet.  I did take a photo, but, well, it just looks like chicken!

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We took a constitutional down to Prince Wharf afterwards, and from there to the Maritime Museum.  I’ll whip up a post about that after dinner…

Photo credits:

Forum Theatre, Melbourne by Donaldytong – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Auckland Civic Theatre by Ingolfson at English Wikipedia(Original text: Uploader.) – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.(Original text: Own picture.), Public Domain,

Posted in 2019 New Zealand, Auckland, Dining out, Museums | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »