Katy Hessel

The 2024 Auckland Writers Festival kicks off next week, and these are sessions you need to book

We look forward to the Auckland Writers Festival every year — which is hardly surprising given our line of work, but in our humble (and perhaps slightly biased) opinion, our festival is world-class and continues to top its predecessor year after year.

2024’s line-up is phenomenal — with a number of major literacy voices taking to the stage to discuss the nuances of their work, alongside an impressive list of local talent that is just as worthy of your attention. Although it was tough to pick just a handful of events, the below list gives you a snapshot of all that is to come across this year’s festival.

Feel like you're missing out?
Be the first to know about what's new & noteworthy.
Sign up to our free EDM subscription today.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Left: Trent Dalton. Right: Samantha Hayes

Trent Dalton in conversation with Samantha Hayes

Award-winning author and journalist Trent Dalton is best known for his captivating coming-of-age debut Boy Swallows Universe. Australian’s fastest-selling debut, the auto-fiction novel sold over a million copies worldwide, and has had major stage and Netflix adaptations. His second novel, the immersive All Our Shimmering Skies followed to much admiration and acclaim, and now, Dalton is taking to the stage at the festival to discuss his eagerly awaited new novel Lola in the Mirror, a moving and magical story of a mother and daughter on the run from a violent past.
Saturday 18th May, 10.00am — 11.00am

Leslie Jamison — Splinters

In conversation with Noelle McCarthy, internationally bestselling author Leslie Jamison discusses her highly-anticipated memoir, Splinters, and the craft behind her unique literary voice. Touted as one of our most acclaimed contemporary voices, Jamison has a unique knack for blending journalism, cultural criticism and personal essays in her signature electric prose, deftly exploring life’s most intimate relationships — from motherhood to marriage, with striking wit and wisdom.
Saturday 18th May, 5.30pm — 6.30pm

Katy Hessel

The Story of Art Without Men with Katy Hessel

Art historian, curator, and broadcaster Katy Hessel has left an indelible mark on the art world, whether through her documentaries, lectures at prestigious institutions (from Cambridge to The Guggenheim), or fostering a thriving community on her @thegreatwomenartists Instagram page. Her focus? Reintegrating women into the narrative of art. Her acclaimed book, The Story of Art Without Men — a lavishly illustrated chronicle spanning from 1500 to the present, soared to the top of bestseller lists in both The Sunday Times and New York Times, thanks to its accessibility and resonance with those within and outside of the art world. In a captivating conversation with Kiwi art curator Julia Waite, Hessel discusses her campaign for a more inclusive artistic canon, and introduces some artists you won’t regret discovering.
Saturday 18th May, 1.00pm — 2.00pm

Suzanne Heywood — Wave Walker

Telling her truly remarkable tale of survival, Suzanne Heywood takes to the stage to discuss her unbelievable childhood spent on the seas — the basis of her exceptional book Wavewalker: Breaking Free. At the tender age of seven, Heywood’s life took a dramatic turn when her father whisked her away from the life she knew to emulate Captain Cook’s third voyage. What started as a three-year family expedition spiralled into a harrowing, decade-long journey which, ultimately, inspired the now Oxford graduate to forge a new path. This is guaranteed to be an enthralling conversation, not to be missed.
Friday 17th May, 5.30pm — 6.30pm

Left: Jess Hong. Right: Samantha Shannon

The Science Behind Science Fiction with Jess Hong

Chinese science fiction writer Liu Cixin’s The Three Body Problem is hailed as a seminal work of speculative fiction, lauded by the likes of Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg. Now, the captivating and complex page-turner, which draws upon Cixin’s background as a computer scientist and utilises theoretical physics, astrophysics and mathematics with both accuracy and intrigue, has been adapted by Netflix into a fervidly-watched series, drawing in both scientists and sci-fi fans alike. In an enlightening discussion, Aotearoa-based lead actress Jess Hong and scientist-writer Octavia Cade delve into the scientific underpinnings of Cixin’s imaginative universe, exploring how science fiction serves as a conduit for conveying complex concepts to even the most science-averse readers.
Saturday 18th May, 4.00pm — 5.00pm

Samantha Shannon on Writing Fantasy

Samantha Shannon’s fantasy epics are not just New York Times and Sunday Times bestsellers; they’re also acclaimed for shifting the dial within the genre with complex feminist characters and queer representation. The acclaimed author’s career is as impressive as her writing — beginning at just 12 years old, and culminating in a seven-book deal from Bloomsbury straight out of Oxford (at just 21), that would become her international best-selling The Bone Season series. Don’t miss Shannon’s conversation with Nalini Singh, where they’ll touch on her newest release, sapphic literature, and the creativity (and technicalities) of dreaming up epic fantasy novels.
Saturday 18th May, 5.30pm — 6.30pm



No plans for the weekend? Consult our edit of everything worth enjoying
Art Market: Our top picks of inspiring art to buy now
Wondering what to watch this week? Discover these unmissable new shows & films