ALEXANDER BISLEY takes a sneak peek at this year’s Auckland Writers & Readers Festival.

AS A STAUNCH Wellingtonian, I hate to admit that Auckland has a better literary Festival, but there’s just no denying it. 2009 sees an impressive tight five lead the pack. “In those hands, everything seems like politics, and politics has never seemed more interesting.” Hendrik Hertzberg is one of the great political journalists. Currently at The New Yorker, he writes gorgeously and definitively nails issues, such as McCain-Palin’s “Socialist” slurs against Obama ( /taco_talk_hertzberg). Stefan Aust is another godfather of political insight. The former Der Spiegel editor-in-chief cut his teeth investigating German terrorism, resulting in the landmark 1985 book The Baader Meinhof Complex. Rhonda Sherman is founding director of the intimidatingly good New Yorker Festival, the razor edge of cultural movers and shakers ( Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spearheads the African New Wave. Nigeria-raised, Baltimore-educated, the atmospheric author of Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun and The Thing Around Your Neck shows much promise. And there’s much more to former Dom cub Kirsty Gunn than the sensual, devastating short story Rain, you know.