The New Zealand Book Council has chosen the 2015 Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival as the stage for its annual address, which this year will be given by New Zealand literary legend Witi Ihimaera tomorrow night at the Regent Theatre. The topic – where New Zealand literature has come from, where it is today and where it appears to be heading – has proved to be a daunting subject for Ihimaera.
“I have been going round and round in circles trying to answer the question. The easy part was writing about the past, at least we know where New Zealand literature has come from. The hard part has been to look at the present, the New Zealand landscape for writers and publishers has changed a lot and then there’s the impact of the digital revolution and our growing interconnection with the wider world.
“All those matters to do with nation, identity, location, race, internationalism and ungrateful huas, are up for grabs.”
Catriona Ferguson, the director of the New Zealand Book Council says Ihimaera’s address will be lively, engaging and will lay out some challenges.
“We hope that the audience will be provoked and inspired and that the lecture will encourage them to go on to read more of Witi’s work as well as the work of other NZ writers. Also to think about contemporary NZ writing and what the future of writing in Aotearoa might be.”
This is the first time the prestigious New Zealand Book Council address has been given in the South Island. Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival Chairperson, Alexandra Bligh says she is delighted the Festival has been given this honour and expects Witi’s address will provide a great contextual and conceptual backdrop for the entire Festival.
“This is our first Festival as a UNESCO City of Literature and we are thrilled to have someone of Witi’s stature as our guest to help officially launch the Festival.”