The New Zealand Book Council Lecture

The New Zealand Book Council Lecture has become a prominent part of the literary landscape in Aotearoa New Zealand. It provides an opportunity for one of our country’s leading writers to discuss an aspect of literature close to their heart.

The Lecture seeks to enlighten – and also provoke. As James K. Baxter said: “It is reasonable and necessary that… every poet should be a prophet.”

Our 2017 prophet is renowned short story writer and novelist Owen Marshall. Many critics rank Marshall among the finest, if not the finest, of New Zealand’s short story writers. Owen will explore the nature of the short story and its role within society; share his own personal history with the short story; and discuss his favorite writers and their craft.

Publication date is 1st October 2017, and event details TBC.

This will be the fourth recent Book Council lecture. Eleanor Catton gave the 2014 Lecture, and in 2015 Witi Ihimaera confronted us with the question: What new New Zealand will our writers write into existence? And last year, Selina Tusitala Marsh explored the relationship between our stories, ourselves, and that fate of our literature is we ignore the wisdom of 'tala tusi'.

2016 / ​​Tala Tusi: The Teller is the Tale​​​​

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Selina Tusitala Marsh

The Sāmoan word tusitala means storyteller – but what about its inverse, tala tusi, where the teller is the tale?

Poet and academic Selina Tusitala Marsh powerfully explores the relationship between our stories, ourselves, and the fate of our literature if we ignore the wisdom offered by ‘tala tusi’ in her remarkable 2016 New Zealand Book Council Lecture.

Read Selina's lecture
Download the print friendly version
Listen to Selina's Lecture on Radio New Zealand.

Delivered at the National Library of New Zealand, Wellington in 2016. To be delivered at the Dunedin Writers Festival 13th May 2017.

2015 / Where is New Zealand Literature Heading?


Witi Ihimaera

What is New Zealand writing and what does its future look like? Witi Ihimaera explores some of the essential questions of our literary culture. His thoughtful and often humorous lecture inspires us to ask ourselves: where is New Zealand literature heading?

Read Witi's lecture

Delivered at the 2015 Dunedin Writers & Readers Festival.

2014 / On Craft: Paradox and Change


Eleanor Catton

Why do you have to go to Oz to discover there’s no place like Kansas? Why, if you love her, do you have to let her go? Why might you become your own worst enemy?

The 2013 Man Booker Prize winner, Eleanor Catton unpacks these plotted paradoxes to investigate how change happens in fiction, whether it is a change of state, a change of mind or a change of heart.

Delivered at the 2014 New Zealand Festival Writers Week.