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Etienne van Heerden

Etienne van Heerden  tijdens Winternachten 2003 - foto Serge Ligtenberg
Etienne van Heerden tijdens Winternachten 2003 - foto Serge Ligtenberg

(South Africa, 1954) debuted with a juvenile novel (Matoli), using a farm setting as a microcosm of South Africa's racial tensions in 1978. His first international breakthrough was the novel Ancestral Voices, which was published in ten languages. It won all the major literary awards in South Africa, and established Van Heerden as the leading novelist of his generation. He went on to publish the novels Casspirs and Camparis, Leap Year and Kikuyu, followed with his major novel The Long Silence of Mario Salviati. Van Heerden also wrote and staged satirical cabarets in the Dutch and German tradition, which was a very effective method of protest during the difficult eighties. Van Heerden teaches at the University of Cape Town, where he is Professor in the School of Languages and Literatures, and chairs the Afrikaans and Dutch Studies Section. He regularly reads his fiction at events such as the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, the Winter Nights Festival in The Netherlands, the Time of the Writer Festival in Germany, the Zimbabwe Book Fair and other festivals and events internationally. For his most recent novel, 30 Nagte in Amsterdam, in 2010 he received the Hertzog Award, the most important literary award for Afrikaans literature.

(WIN 2002)

Archive available for: Etienne van Heerden

  • Writers Series

    The most beautiful Afrikaans language poem of all time!

    With: Anne van Veen, Etienne van Heerden, Kirby van der Merwe, Marita van der Vyver, Richard de Nooy, Robert Dorsman, Sonja Loots, Tineke de Nooij, Toef Jaeger

    Afrikaans poetry has a rich tradition: from Antjie Krog to Ingrid Jonker, from Breyten Breytenbach to Elisabeth Eybers. Much of their poetry has appeared in a Dutch translation, for example in the anthology 'De Afrikaanse poëzie in 1000 en enige gedichten', edited by Gerrit Komrij. But what can be more beautiful than hearing the original poems in the melodious and poetic Afrikaans language, recited by South African writers? Etienne van Heerden, Sonja Loots, Kirby van der Merwe and Marita van der Vyver are touring the Netherlands and will read their favourite poem during this evening and explain why they think it's beautiful. There will also be a representative of the South African government to read president Zuma's favourite poem.

    In addition we have other guests with a predilection for Afrikaans language and poetry. Robert Dorsman translates poetry and prose from Afrikaans into Dutch. The Dutch novelist Richard de Nooy grew up in South Africa. Tineke de Nooij, a radio and television celebrity, is a great fan of the land and the language and will share her favourite poem. Singer and theatre artist Anne van Veen (the daughter of Herman van Veen) sings South African poems. The audience to this event also plays a role. They have the final say when, at the close of the evening, they vote for the most beautiful Afrikaans language poem of all time. The event is hosted by NRC editor and expert on South African literature Toef Jaeger.

    Organised by Writers Unlimited in cooperation with the Afrikaans novel ( week.

    Language: Afrikaans and Dutch
    Books on sale at the Paagman bookshop in the venue.

    Centrale Bibliotheek, Spui 68, Studio B (1st floor)

    Admission: €10 for members of Bibliotheek Den Haag and €6 for CJP, students, clients with a Paagman cash register slip and Ooievaarspas.
    Please book in advance, use the link on the top of this page.

  • Writers Series

    South-Africa: Writer Etienne van Heerden and Bart Luirink

    With: Bart Luirink, Etienne van Heerden, Jeroen van Kan

    Etienne van Heerden is one of the most wellknown writers from South Africa. Recently he published the novel 30 Nagte in Amsterdam (30 Nights in Amsterdam) in Dutch translation. He talked to Bart Luirink, editor in chief of ZAM Africa Magazine and former coordinator of the Anti Apartheid Movement in The Netherlands. Moderated by Jeroen van kan (VPRO Radio - 'De Avonden'). Van Heerden's novel is set in Amsterdam, and deals - amongst other things - with the darker sides of the Dutch resistance against apartheid in South Africa.

  • World Speakers sept. 2006

    Living Apart Together - language and multiculturalism in The Netherlands

    With: Auma Okwany, Cavy G., Etienne van Heerden, Fouad Laroui, René Appel

    On Wednesday 27 September, 20.30 hrs, Winternachten and the Insitute of Social Studies presented the first in a series of three paneldiscussions on the future of a multicultural Dutch society. The South African writer Etienne van Heerden, the Dutch author and socio-linguist René Appel and Auma Okwany from Kenia, discussed language politics and multiculturalism in The Netherlands: in search for three 'commandments' to deal with 122 languages.

    In 'Living Apart Together – language and multiculturalism in The Netherlands', we compared the situation in our country to countries with a long multicultural tradition, notably South Africa and Kenia. In The Netherlands 122 languages are spoken. How tolerant are the Dutch, and how tolerant should they be in allowing the use of other languages from Dutch? What is the extent of Dutch language politics – as far as this exists at all – to the language politics in other multicultural societies? Is there a need for everybody to speak Dutch in public life? And why not give Turkish an official status next to Frisian and Dutch? Could South Africa, with its eleven official languages, be a model for The Netherlands? What rules for everyday speech do we need for a successful multicultural society? During the discussion the participants, together with three students of ISS and the audience, formulated three 'commandments' to deal with language in future multicultural society in the Netherlands. The panel was chaired by the Dutch/Moroccan writer Fouad Laroui.

    The three commandments that were formulated:
    - Thou shalt not be afraid of the tongue of another.
    - All languages are equal, but Dutch is more equal.
    - We must embrace differences because language diversity is a cultural treasure.

    Listen to a sound recording of the whole programme on this page.

  • Winternachten 2003 – Winternacht 1

    Self-portrait of South-Africa

    'I see people rising from the putrid smells of oppresion. But I also see their wounds', writes the main character in The Quiet Violence of Dreams by K. Sello Duiker. He speaks with his elder fellow-countryman Etienne van Heerden. Literary critic Michaël Zeeman interviews two important literary voices on violence, collective psychosis and the dream of a new South-Africa.

  • Winternachten 2003 – Winternacht 1

    South-Africa, Flanders and The Netherlands: Unity of culture?

    Is is just the language that connects part of South-Africa with Flanders and the Netherlands? Benno Barnard, a Dutch writer living in Flanders for most of his life, meets South-African writer Etienne van Heerden and the Dutch writer Henk van Woerden. Michaël Zeeman is moderator.

  • Tournee NL 2003

    Winternachten Dutch Tour - Kit Tropentheater Amsterdam - South-Africa Programme

    With: Etienne van Heerden, Henk van Woerden, K. Sello Duiker

    Writer Henk van Woerden interviews the South-African writers Etienne van Heerden and K. Sello Duiker. Both will read from their work and dicuss the primary factors that made them into a writer. English spoken.

    Tickets 020 56 88 500 or

  • Tournee NL 2003

    Winternachten Tilburg

    With: Ed van Eeden, Etienne van Heerden, Kader Abdolah, Quito Nicolaas

    An evening with the South-African writer Etienne van Heerden, the Aruban poet Quito Nicolaas and the Dutch-Iranian writer Kader Abdolah. On their image of Holland. Moderated by Ed van Eeden. Dutch spoken.

    Tickets 013 4561111

  • Winternachten 1998

    Wingewest van het Geweten

    With: Adriaan van Dis, Etienne van Heerden, Frank Martinus Arion, Gerard van Westerloo, Shrinivási, Toeti Heraty

    A panel discussion of writers from Indonesia, South-Africa, the Antilles and The Netherlands, titled 'Wingewest van het geweten'. Theme was the development of the cultural orientation of the different countries on eachother. During this meeting Frank Martinus Arion and Adriaan van Dis founded a committee to promote the erection of a National Monument for the commemoration of Slavery.

  • Winternachten 1998

    South-African Winternight

    With: Aad Nuis, Adriaan van Dis, Carl Niehaus, Emma Huismans, Etienne van Heerden, Henk van Woerden, Lesego Rampolokeng, Louis Maholo and Friends, Michaël Zeeman, Peter Snyders, Robert Dorsman, Sandile Dikene, Soli Philander, Thula Sizwe, Tom Lanoye, Tribal Countdown, Vernon February

    An evening with writers from South-Africa and The Netherlands. They read from their work and were introduced by Aad Nuis. They were interviewed by Michaël Zeeman and Robert Dorsman.
    In het musical programme there were performances by (among others) Tribal Countdown, Louis Maholo, Seon Birgin, Frankie Douglas and Ernst Glerum. The popular South-African Soli Philander did his stand-up-comedy peformance.
    The films shown were the documentary 'Mandela, Son of Africa, Father of a Nation' by Jo Menell, nominated in 1997 for the Oscar in the category 'best documentary'. And 'Breaker Morant' , the moving drama by director Bruce Beresford on the Boer War, followed by some shorter movies on South-Africa from the beginning of the 20th century.