Ian Rankin and Veep creator headline 2017 Auckland Writers Festival

Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin is headlining the Auckland Writers Festival this year.
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Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin is headlining the Auckland Writers Festival this year.

Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin is the headline attraction at this year's Auckland Writers Festival.

The line-up includes Pulitzer and Man Booker Prize winners to an Emmy-winning satirist to New Zealand's most celebrated heretic.

Festival director Anne O'Brien says this year's program features "a range of conversations about current affairs and current times".

Mpho Tutu van Furth, daughter of Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu.
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Mpho Tutu van Furth, daughter of Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu.

"There are a lot of conversations going on about race and gender and identity, and obviously politics and financial issues are to the fore - in the light of Trump and Brexit and so forth."

Aside from headline attraction Rankin, international guests also include comedian Armando Iannucci, creator of the praised US sitcom Veep, American feminist icons Susan Faludi and Roxane Gay, US foreign correspondent and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman, and Mpho Tutu van Furth, daughter of Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu.

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Respected New Zealand theologian Sir Lloyd Geering faced charges of heresy in 1967. The 99 year old will be interviewed ...
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Respected New Zealand theologian Sir Lloyd Geering faced charges of heresy in 1967. The 99 year old will be interviewed at the Auckland Writers Festival by John Campbell.

On the local front, the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards - MCed by comedian Michele A'Court - will honour our country's finest writers, while respected theologian Sir Lloyd Geering will be interviewed by broadcaster John Campbell.

"It's extraordinary," says O'Brien of Sir Geering. "He gave the Michael King lecture about four years ago - 2000 people came to see that at 10 o'clock on a Sunday morning and he got a standing ovation. He's just turned 99, he's written a new book, he's up for anything, and he's having some great conversations."

"He's just one of New Zealand's remarkable people and it's such a joy to be able to celebrate that with him."

The largest literary event in New Zealand, the Auckland Writers Festival will this year play host to almost 200 writers from here and overseas, and last year attracted an audience of more than 65,000 people over six days.

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And the festival is not only increasingly a hit with those who attend, but also with the many international guests who travel to New Zealand each year to showcase their craft as well.

"We get fantastic feedback from our international writers," says O'Brien. "They universally tell us that we are one of the best festivals they go to, and I think there are some particular reasons for that."

"While we're big, we're not huge, so we still retain a small, informal feel. And we put a lot of work into really hosting our guests, making sure they've got lots of time to explore and spend time with each other."

"New Zealand delivers amazing audiences for writers - New Zealanders are very open and engaged, so they get great audiences and wonderful engagement with their work. Add to that the New Zealand hospitality that we're renowned for, and that sort of informal warmth - and without a doubt the writers say to us that this is one of their favourite places to come."

The Auckland Writers Festival runs from May 16 to 21 at the Aotea Centre.

 - Stuff

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