Friday, June 01, 2012
Quake-delayed Writers’ Festival returning to Christchurch
The Press Christchurch Writers’ Festival is reclaiming its place in the city’s cultural calendar this spring, after a lengthy four-year wait. The biennial festival began in 1997 and is the biggest event of its kind in the South Island. It last ran in 2008 and was postponed in 2010, when the 4 September earthquake struck five days before it was due to start. Organisers were then forced to abandon a scaled-down version in 2011, after the 22 February quake destroyed most of the city’s venues.
Since last year, the festival has been running satellite events to keep book-loving Cantabrians satisfied, but with a new venue in the Geo Dome in Hagley Park, the full festival is set to return from 30 August to 2 September. Festival Director Marianne Hargreaves says it's exciting to be staging a festival at last. ‘With so many iconic Christchurch cultural hubs out of commission, we’ve been impatient to bring this great festival back to the city. On the plus side, the delay has allowed us to put together a great programme that we think will make the wait worthwhile!’
The festival’s big drawcards this year include top international writers Joanne Harris (UK), author of Chocolat; John Boyne (Ireland),(left-Line Drawing from Noah Barleywater), author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas; John Lanchester (UK), novelist and financial commentator; author Chris Cleave (UK) and Kate Grenville (Australia). There is also a strong line-up of New Zealand writers, including Emily Perkins, Tim Wilson, Laurence Fearnley, Joe Bennett and Nicky Hager.
Joanne Harris, John Boyne and John Lanchester are being shared with the Melbourne and Brisbane Writers’ Festivals, a partnership that Hargreaves says highlights the growing presence of literary events in the arts scenes of major cities. ‘Writers’ festivals internationally are becoming much bigger events with wide appeal. It’s increasingly common for popular books to have movie adaptations, which have a huge reach, and in turn, that’s bringing more people back to the texts and turning writers into celebrities. So these festivals are attracting big, varied audiences and people are finding that you don't have to be a bookworm to get something out of it. It’s really much more about hearing interesting people tell great yarns.’
The full programme for The Press Christchurch Writers’ Festival 2012 will be released on 13 July. Visit http://chchwritersfest.co.nz for more information on sessions and bookings.