As Aotearoa’s only UNESCO City of Literature, Dunedin has quite the soft spot for the written word and its diverse practitioners. The fourth Dunedin Writers & Readers Festival is fast galloping towards us (9-12 May) and promises four days of terrific talk across 36 events, with a cast of over 60 participants. We’re thrilled to welcome eight overseas guests to our corner this year: bestselling Irish novelist John Boyne; BAFTA and MOBO award-winning UK hip-hop artist and author Akala; charisma-blessed English writer/performer Rebecca Vaughan (back for a third time, no less); two immensely talented picture book author-illustrators on loan from France, Eric Veillé and Clotilde Perrin; and three of Australia’s brightest minds, novelist Markus Zusak, feminist author Clementine Ford and Australian Children’s Laureate Morris Gleitzman. Pair that vibrant lot with a bounty of top-shelf New Zealand talent and you’ve got yourself a line-up to tickle most fancies. Our writers, illustrators and performers promise to serve up a peppy range of topics: murder, feminism, villains and grannies, fake news, race, class, distraction, boydom, the Dunedin Sound, hip-hop, Shakespeare, poetry, off-grid living, te reo Maori, misbehaving costumes, gender bending, Scarfie flats, mental health, masculinity, humour, comics, Captain Cook’s one-handed cook, the writing process, comics, history’s scent and motherhood. There are also four workshops; a cracking day of events designed to inspire our city’s secondary school students; kid-delighting events; and a selection of free, kind-on-the-wallet sessions throughout the programme. Our programme is now available at www.dunedinwritersfestival.co.nz. Tickets from TicketDirect.