Elizabeth Knox wins $100,000 grant as writers gather to show off their work

Writer Elizabeth Knox was yesterday awarded a $100,000 grant to write a memoir based on her experiences of violent death and illness in her family - a timely note to kick off the Auckland Writers Festival.

Novelist Knox was named by Creative New Zealand as the winner of the Michael King Writer's Fellowship, offered annually for writers working on a project which will take two or more years to complete.

She is among the featured writers in this year's festival, which opened last night at the ASB Theatre.

Nigerian poet Inua Ellams. Photo / Dean Purcell
Nigerian poet Inua Ellams. Photo / Dean Purcell

The opening featured eight writers who delivered seven-minute true stories, without props or scripts and inspired by the theme "truth and lies".


They included Nigerian poet and performer Inua Ellams, Egyptian writer Yasmine El Rashidi, New Zealand photographer Marti Friedlander, Kiwi novelist Sarah-Kate Lynch, British lawyer and writer Alexander McCall Smith and Trainspotting author, the Scot Irvine Welsh.

Knox, author of The Vintner's Luck, will join journalist David Larsen at the Aotea Centre tonight to discuss her "inspirations and preoccupations, on capturing people and moving them, and how she manages her invisible monsters".

Knox was clear on what her fellowship project would be about.

"The four years during which, among other things, my mother was diagnosed as suffering from progressive bulsar palsy, a form of motor neurone disease, and I was her principle caregiver and my brother-in-law died as a result of an act of intentional violence.

"I want to write a very personal story that intersects with lots of people's experience."

Also yesterday, Auckland Mayor Len Brown announced a grant worth $10,000 a year - starting next year - to support emerging Auckland writers.