Finally! It is that time of year. WORD Christchurch is almost here! While Christchurch’s literary festival always showcases some of the most prominent, talented, and relevant writers of our time, this year the list of speakers seems particularly extensive and impressive. As I read through the list (see the full programme schedule) my stomach repeatedly flipped with excitement; I can’t believe we get the opportunity to listen to these incredibly talented and inspiring people!
Emily St. John Mandel
This year the festival is running from Wednesday 31 August to Sunday 4 September. While many events are on my "To Attend" list, there are a few that simply cannot be missed. The Faraway Near: Emily St. John Mandel is one such event. Her talk is on Saturday 3 September at the TSB Space in Tūranga, 12 – 1pm.
Mandel (Station Eleven, The Glass Hotel) will be speaking about her latest novel Sea of Tranquillity and challenging people’s perceptions of what a ‘time travel’ novel can be, writing during a pandemic, and the power of imagination when travel is limited.
The novel that put her on the world stage was Station Eleven, which was adapted into a TV series last year, and follows a few main characters as they become part of the remaining survivors of a deadly flu pandemic that wipes out most of the world’s population. It flicks between the past and present as we learn about their experiences before, during and after the pandemic. I read the book at the end of 2019, and come the events of early 2020 and the shock of the first lockdown, I could not stop thinking about this book that I read mere months before. At the time I could not imagine experiencing anything like it in my lifetime. Eerily, suddenly it felt too familiar to her novel!
Upon learning her latest was a ‘time travel’ novel (not something I’d normally pick off the shelves), I had a slight hesitancy in reading it. However, having enjoyed her other books, I thought I would give it a go anyway, and although it is not my favourite of hers, I was surprised to find I enjoyed it more than I thought. I am beyond excited to get the opportunity to listen to her talk.
Kate De Goldi
Another author I’m looking forward to hearing speak is Kate De Goldi, an iconic kiwi award-winning author, who is talking at 10am on Sunday 4 September at The Piano.
De Goldi has written novels for children, youth, and adults, and is a regular guest on Kim Hill’s Saturday morning show. In her most recent interview De Goldi acknowledged that even these categories can be limiting, and she prefers to avoid them if possible, allowing anyone of any age to enjoy any novel. Her most notable novels include The 10pm Question and The ACB With Honora Lee, and her latest book Eddy, Eddy will be the basis of the talk on Sunday. A coming of age novel, set during the Christchurch earthquakes, this book resonates even more deeply than usual. Liz Grant will speak with De Goldi about her off-beat and funny novel, and what it was like writing a book set in our own city during such a significant part of our recent history.
Climate Change anthology
I am also looking forward to attending No Other Place to Stand: Creativity and Climate Change, with climate campaigner Kera Sherwood-O’Regan. This event is on Saturday 3 September 4.30 – 5.30pm at The Piano AND it's free!
The talk focuses on the poetry anthology of the same name, with poems by New Zealand poets about climate change, as well as how art and activism are linked, and if poetry can help overcome the breakdown barriers of science and policy language. The book is currently on my holds list, and I am looking forward to reading it (hopefully before the event!).
There are so many cool events to check out, the hard thing will be fitting them all in! Whether it is the events mentioned in this post, or one of the many other ones on offer, there is sure to be one that will peak your interests. Check out the WORD Christchurch website now!
Find out more
WORD Christchurch Information
- Visit the WORD Christchurch website
- Follow WORD on Twitter
- Follow WORD on Instagram
- Follow WORD on Facebook