Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will appear alongside our most acclaimed authors and international heavy-hitters including 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner Andrew Sean Greer, American musician Jeff Tweedy and Canadian novelist Anne Michaels at this year's Auckland Writers Festival.
The programme for the 19th Auckland Writers Festival comprises more than 200 events and 230 globally recognised writers and intellectuals. Last year's festival attracted around 75,000 and this year's looks set to be just as popular with Ardern's Friday talk, Stardust & Substance, likely to be a top drawcard.
She'll discuss with journalist Toby Manhire the weeks leading up to the 2017 election and reflect on the impact of the result domestically and internationally.
Alongside Greer, Tweedy and Michaels, international names also include British historian Sir Antony Beevor, Kamila Shamsie, the 2018 British Women's Prize-winning novelist, Australian best-seller Markus Zusak, Irish novelist John Boyne, visual artist and writer Douglas Coupland, and the UK's Sally Gardner who made her name writing children's and young adult books but also writes erotic fiction for adults under the nom de plume Wray Delaney.
On the local front, Tessa Duder, Stephanie Johnson, Lloyd Jones, Fiona Kidman, Witi Ihimaera, Albert Wendt and Vincent O'Sullivan, Paula Morris, Marilyn Waring, Sir Kim Workman, Sandra Coney and artist Gretchen Albrecht will participate in conversations, panel discussions and book-signings while former Straitjacket Fits front man Shayne Carter will talk about his soon to be released memoir Dead People I Have Known.
With Carter and Jeff Tweedy due to appear, music is a key feature of the festival. Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, writer Witi Ihimaera, composer Kenneth Young and tenor Simon O'Neill join forces for Man, Sitting in a Garden while English writer, mathematician and musician Eugenia Cheng performs.
American singer/songwriter Val Emmich has adapted the Tony Broadway Musical of the Year Dear Evan Hansen, into a novel. He'll be on stage with Petra Bagust discussing the work and the National Youth Theatre Company performing four hit songs from the show.
Whiti Hereaka, Kelly Joseph, Nic Low, Tina Makereti, Paula Morris, Regan Taylor and multi-instrumentalist Kingsley Melhuish are together for an hour of mythic Māori magic in Pūrākau: Maori Myths Retold.
Other performances include the reading of a specially commissioned short detective story from the Scotsman and Dunedin academic Liam McIlvanney at the Central Library basement by ultraviolet torchlight as part of the Friday night event Literally Lorne.
Announcing this year's programme AWF director Anne O'Brien said recent years have seen unprecedented interest from audiences who travel from around the country and abroad to attend.
"We are now one of the largest and most respected literary festivals in the world. The festival is part of the life-blood of New Zealand. It expands our world views, deepens our understanding on issues of the day, celebrates stories and writing and offers a heady, seven-day, fun-times immersion.
"Where else can you hear a historian talk about sex work, a philosopher talk about what we can learn from octopuses, meet a freedom fighter and see performance poets all under one roof?"
The AWF begins on Monday, May 13 when UK economist Kate Raworth talks about reforming what we mean by "economic sustainability and success" and ends on Sunday, May 19 with its free family day where the 50th anniversary of Margaret Mahy's classic The Lion in the Meadow will be celebrated. The 51st Ockham NZ Book Awards take place on Tuesday, May 14.