The 12 May awards ceremony isn’t the only opportunity for the 2021 finalists in the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards to shine during this year’s Auckland Writers Festival; a number of the shortlisted authors feature in sessions throughout the programme.
Poetry finalist Mohamed Hassan (National Anthem) will be in esteemed company on Friday 14 May when he beams in from London to join literary legend Isabel Allende and Chinese-American writer Yiyun Li for one of the ‘Autumn Salon Series’ discussions chaired by Paula Morris. On the same day, Tusiata Avia (The Savage Coloniser Book) joins Selina Tusitala-Marsh, whose Fast Talking PI was a Best First Book winner in the 2010 awards, and Karlo Mila, whose latest collection, Goddess Muscle, was longlisted for the 2021 Ockhams. They will be in conversation with Grace Iwashita-Taylor in a session entitled ‘Pasifika Marama QaQa'.
On Saturday 15 May, 2017 Acorn Fiction Prize winner Catherine Chidgey (shortlisted this year for Remote Sympathy) and Australian novelist Carrie Tiffany discuss the ideas that have intrigued them, and the possibilities and limitations of using the novel to canvass them, with Dan Salmon. Also on Saturday, fiction finalist Brannavan Gnanalingam (Sprigs) takes to the Speakers’ Corner on the subject of Being Male.
On Friday, in ‘A Treaty Conversation’, General Non Fiction Award finalist Hirini Kaa (Te Hāhi Mihinare |The Māori Anglican Church) interviews distinguished historian Dame Claudia Orange. Kaa’s fellow GNF finalists Vincent O’Sullivan and Alison Jones also appear in sessions on Saturday: O’Sullivan to discuss his friend the late Ralph Hotere, the subject of his shortlisted biography, Ralph Hotere: The Dark Is Light Enough and Jones (This Pākeha Life) to discuss being Pākeha in Aotearoa for Speakers’ Corner.
On Sunday 16 May, food warrior Monique Fiso talks to Kim Knight about her journey to take Māori cuisine to the world. First she opened award-winning Wellington restaurant Hiakai, and then she wrote the book of the same name that is an Illustrated Non-Fiction Award finalist. Also that day, her fellow finalist in this category, award-winning photographer Jane Ussher, speaks to Simon Wilson about her art and shares some favourite images from Nature – Stilled.
Also on Sunday, Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction finalist Airini Beautrais (Bug Week & Other Stories) joins several other contributors in a session titled ‘More Favourable Waters’, in which 33 New Zealand poets respond to Dante’s Purgatory with an original work of their own. And the same day, fellow finalist in this award, Pip Adam (Nothing to See), speaks to writer Adam Dudding (himself a previous Ockhams winner) along with Victorian Prize for Literature 2021 winner Laura Jean McKay about game-changing narratives in fiction.
Tickets for all sessions are moving fast, so don’t delay: make your bookings now.