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New Zealand Arts Festival 2008 Wellington 22 February–16 March

The New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week - 11 – 16 March 2008

News from the Festival

he 2008 New Zealand International Arts Festival hosts the best in international and New Zealand culture. The biennial festival has been held since 1986. The 2008 programme, which runs from 22 February–16 March, embraces a broad range of styles and encompasses

  • compelling theatre
  • enchanting music
  • irresistible dance
  • absorbing opera
  • the crème de la crème of writers
  • captivating visual arts.

The features on the programme actively address human rights, globalisation and environmental concerns which are at the forefront of today's thinking.

With over 800 artists from 29 countries, the Festival runs throughout varied venues in Wellington with the central hub located on the picturesque waterfront. The programme also extends out into the greater Wellington region with travelling shows in

Art on the Move.

The New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week

This programme provides provocative discussion and debate, including

the Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stigliz

fiction writers James Meek and Mayra Montero

2007 Booker nominees Mohsin Hamid and Ian McEwan

Canadian virtuoso performance poet Christian Bök

Pulitzer Prize-winning Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau

Gourmet magazine editor Ruth Reichl

climate campaigner George Monbiot in a live video session from the UK

acclaimed English story teller David Mitchell

Ireland's most distinguished poet Paul Muldoon

SchoolFest, the Festival's education programme, is a core part of every Festival. Featuring the Behind the Scenes workshop programme, New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Schools Day and for the first time three international theatre productions, specifically for young people, it will travel extensively around the Festival region.

News of a change on 18th December 2007

Political situation forces NZ arts Festival author to reconsider appearance.

Mohsin Hamid, an author to feature at the New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week has had to reconsider his visit to NZ due to the deteriorating political situation in his native country of Pakistan. Featuring in the New York Story session, on 12 March 2008, the 2007 Booker-nominee and political journalist has made the decision to remain in Pakistan to write and report on these significant events in his country's history.

"Given the current crisis here, the upcoming elections, and the outbreak of anarchy, militancy, and violence, I feel very strongly that I should spend every possible day in my country, and not travel abroad for any reason," Hamid told the Festival.

He will now make his appearance, not in person, at New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week, but via audio link direct from Pakistan.

The Festival is pleased to announce that Patrick McGrath, a British ex-pat and long time (New York) resident, will join James Meek in person and Hamid from Pakistan, to talk about their 9/11 stories, how the event has changed the world and the literary landscape, and explain why it is they felt compelled to tell 9/11 stories.

Patrick McGrath has written three New York stories in Ghost Town: Tales of Manhattan Then and Now, each of which explores the revolutionary violence that has shaped a nation.

James Meek, the acclaimed British journalist and war correspondent, negotiates the fury and impotence of those covering the war in We Are Now Beginning Our Descent.

They will join Mohsin Hamid, who was resident in New York when the planes hit, and whose main character Changez whispers a love story called The Reluctant Fundamentalist from a café in Lahore.

Take note of this event in New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week

New York Stories: Writing 9/11, 6pm, Embassy Theatre.

Patrick McGrath, James Meek and via audio link from Pakistan – Mohsin Hamid.

More on New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week

Addressing the politics and peculiarities of contemporary society as part of a NZ literary feast

In an age where television and film remain controlled by ratings, is writing the last bastion of the unsayable? Do writers have an obligation to write the taboo? When is too far just enough? Are they really telling us anything we don't already know?

The 20 international and 34 New Zealand writers, photographers and artists that are part of the2008 New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week (11-16 March) celebrate the power of the printed page and revel in exploring in-depth issues that are constant challenges within today's society, thus drawing direct parallels with the artistic programme of the New Zealand International Arts Festival.

"It is indeed thrilling to be able to offer a chance for readers of all ages to rub shoulders with some of the greatest writers and thinkers on the planet." Says Artistic Director, Lissa Twomey, "Drawing people together from all horizons by the common pleasure of the written word makes for exhilarating, energising and inspirational experiences of which you can expect many."

From voodoo to narcotics, cultural identity to colonisation, activism to social aspiration, and encompassing gratuitous sex, dysfunctional family life, anti-Semitism, poverty, globalization, modern war, politics and environmental activism along the way. Be prepared to be enveloped by provocative discussion, fascinating debate and readings by some of contemporary literature's most exciting voices.

While centered in The Embassy Theatre, the 2008 programme will burst out into Downstage, St James Theatre and the Michael Fowler Centre with the most extensive range of sessions on offer since its inception.

Already announced in November 2007 are Booker Prize- winning English novelist Ian McEwan, the hugely charismatic Canadian poet Christian Bök, the wonderfully original Cuban novelist Mayra Montero, acclaimed English story teller David Mitchell, Doonesbury cartoon creator Garry Trudeau, renowned restaurant critic and Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl, the ‘elegant weirdness' of American Patrick McGrath and Ireland's most distinguished poet Paul Muldoon.

As well as Australian Ursula Dubosarsky who is a multi-award-winning children's writer; Richard Davenport-Hines (UK) the acclaimed biographer and cultural historian; Alexis Wright (Aus) novelist and campaigner for indigenous rights; Uwe Timm (Germany) memoirist, fiction writer and cutting-edge novelist and Christos Tsiolkas (Aus).

An outspoken critic of trade practices that hurt less developed countries, and more recently on the economic costs of the war in Iraq, Nobel laureate and former economic adviser to Bill Clinton, Joseph Stiglitz, will take part in two lively discussions (in Wellington and Auckland) on America's economic, social, cultural and ecological policy. Not afraid of making blunt statements, Professor Stiglitz's newest book The Trillion Dollar War will have its worldwide release while he is in New Zealand.

In a first for the Festival there will be a video link in real time with environmental campaigner, George Monbiot and an audio link from 2007 Booker-Prize nominee, Mohsin Hamid, who is currently chronicling the violent anarchy in the worsening political environment of his native Pakistan.

Two new international writers will join this stellar line-up; Australian-born Craig Sherborne whose two social memoirs recreate his early life in small-town New Zealand as well as a return visit by Sia Figiel, oft-described as Samoa's first woman novelist and whose book, Where We Once Belonged has been adapted for the stage in a starkly honest and wildly funny play making its debut at the New Zealand International Arts Festival.

The 2007 recipient of the Prime Minister's Award for Literature, Fiona Farrell, the legendary NZ poet, author and commentator CK Stead and the matriarch of New Zealand's historical documentation - Dame Anne Salmond (who makes her debut at the Festival) headline the New Zealand component of New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week.

With a more geographical reach than ever before, 34 New Zealand writers will descend on Wellington to ask and answer the big questions on science, celebrity, Art, history and indigenous integration. Among these eminent authors are; zoologist and film maker, Lloyd Spencer Davies, award-winning novelist and teacher, Bernard Beckett, one of the stand out voices of his generation Damien Wilkins, poet/biographer Harry Ricketts, Paleontologist Hamish Campbell, 2007 Neustadt International Prize winner, Patricia Grace, cultural critic turned novelist Sara Knox as well as her sister, Elizabeth.

This year visual artists get to have their say, four eminent photographers; Marti Friedlander, Anna Noble, Ans Westra and Laurence Aberhart talking about how every picture tells a story. Artist and Arts Laureate John Reynolds and artist/poet, Leigh Davis talk about art & text.

Celebrating the future of New Zealand writing will see a record number of emerging writers featuring at the Festival. This includes readings by the six finalists of the world's largest prize for emerging writers, the IIML Prize in Modern Letters and six writers who take to the streets in a wireless writing marathon in Once upon a Deadline.

Wellington city is not the only venue for these literary giants. Following on from the Arts Festival tradition of Arts on the Move, Writers in the Regions, see New Zealanders, Elizabeth and Sara Knox travel to TheNewDowse to discuss growing up in a story and the novels they write today. In 2007 Alexis Wright became the first Aborigine to win the Miles Franklin Award. A gifted storyteller, activist and teacher she will be in conversation at Pataka Museum.

NZ Post Writers and Readers Schools Day

This day exclusively created for secondary school students is in its second year as part of the NZ International Arts Festival. Schoolfest, will feature Christian Bök, Bernard Beckett, Sia Figiel and Ursula Duborsky. Ursula also appears in the family-friendly Kids in the Club, programme along with writer / illustrator Tony Anderson, a screening of The Red Balloon, and a Poetry Slam which will give children of up to 12 years the chance to participate and make their mark!

Be enthused, be enlightened, be shocked and be informed, New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week brochure is out now at your local Post Shop, selected book stores and from Ticketek. Tickets go on public sale on 7th February.

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