WORD Up – FeeJ’s picks for WORD Christchurch 2023

It's that time of year again!

Spring is almost here and that means WORD Christchurch is too. WORD is like Christmas for librarians, book lovers and authors alike.

Here are a few of the events I've picked from the most diverse and entertaining line up yet - making this a great year for New Zealand authors.

Signs of life

First up is the launch of Signs of Life, by Christchurch author (and librarian) Amy Head at Scorpio Books, in the BNZ Centre, Thursday 24 August at 5:30pm.

Signs of Life

Signs of Life is Amy's third book; reflecting on the turbulent times of 2010/11 when Christchurch was still reeling from the earthquakes that destroyed much of the city. Amy sets her characters in natural, often unrelenting settings, giving them complex situations to work through. And that cover says it all. Genius.


Fiction, three ways

Morrin Rout talks with a panel of Christchurch authors: Fiona Farrell, Carl Nixon and Emily Perkins - all of whom have recently released new books.

The Deck

The Waters


Join them at the frabjous Piano venue at 10:30am on Friday 25 August to find out about the motivations behind The Deck, Fiona Farrell's delightful response to the Covid pandemic, The Waters, Carl Nixon's family-based drama set on a waterfront property and Lioness, Emily Perkins' novel about the mid-life crisis of a woman married into a corrupt family business. If you'd like a free taster, Carl Nixon launches The Waters at Scorpio Books this Thursday evening, 17 August at 6pm.


AI vs Librarians

The headline event for me is one I'm part of. No pressure!


AI VS Librarians is a fun, free event we've cooked up as a kind of quiz show. See for yourself what Artificial Intelligence is capable of - come along to the TSB Space at Tūranga on Friday 25 August, 6pm and watch the four Fiction Readers' Advisory Librarians; myself, Eamonn Redmond, Sarah Pope and Mike Moroney take on Chat GPT for book recommendations. Will we stump it? Or will it beat us Hoomans? Audience participation compulsory!

Catherine Chidgey: Pet

Catherine Chidgey takes the stage at the Piano on Sunday 27 August, 10:30am to introduce her new book, Pet.


Pet rides on the coat-tails of Chidgey's huge success with The Axeman's Carnival - winner of the Jan Medlicott Prize for Fiction this year at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, and Christchurch City Libraries' nominee for the 2024 Dublin Literary Award. Is Pet a winner? I think so - it's a trip back to puberty (remember that?) and it sure has a lot of punch! Find out more at this event from a hard-hitting, hugely successful author.


Criticism in the small pond

Every reviewer needs to tweak their process so I'm joining other aspiring critics for a panel discussion at Christchurch Art Gallery on Sunday 27 August at 3pm.

The panel presenting at this include multi-talented author Rachael King, previous director of WORD Festival Christchurch and recently awarded Best Reviewer at the 2023 Voyager Awards; Erin Harrington of Flat City Field Notes, Vanessa Crifskey of Pantograph Punch and Philip Matthews, reviewer of film, books and music, currently working at Stuff Christchurch (and recipient of the 2022 Voyager Award for Reviewer of the Year).


Pip Adam: Audition

For a grand finale, I'm going to see Pip Adam talk about her new book, Audition.


I'm dying to hear about Adam's motivation for this intelligent, allegorical story about intolerance, and what we do if people are seen to take up too much space - emotionally, intellectually or physically. The characters in Audition have been set adrift from Earth, travelling to an unknown destination, after they become giants; making their fellow humans afraid of them.


And so much more!

These are just the buds on the tree that is WORD. Check out the programme for more - there's something to suit, and represent, all of our diverse communities in Christchurch. Don't miss out! Get up off the couch, into the spring air, and get into WORD! Check out our WORD Christchurch coverage ahead of, during and following the festival.

Stuck for something to read? Try our Fiction Genre Guides, or test the Librarians' skills: ask the Readers' Advisory Team for some recommendations:

Make your own picks of the festival - check the programme online online or picking up a printed copy from your library. 

Find out more