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Gündüz Vassaf

Gündüz Vassaf - foto Serge Ligtenberg
Gündüz Vassaf - foto Serge Ligtenberg

(Turkey, 1946) has been called 'the spokesperson of our phantasies, the freest spirit of our prose' by none other than Orhan Pamuk. In his penetrating work Vassaf deals with varying themes like migrant labour, historiography, the falsification of history and the failure of capitalism. Vassaf, a writer in addition to being an internationally respected psychologist, mixes stories with essay-like passages and philosophy with literature. Vassaf is a leading figure in the public debate in Turkey. He has had a weekly column in de newspaper Radikal since 1997. These columns were put together in a book in 2008, entitled Turkey, where are you?. Hell Be Praised (1992), on the result of totalitarianism in daily life was a best-seller in Turkey and published in English. In 2008 the book was translated into Russian. We Still Need to Be Heard (1983) was re-issued in 2003 and translated into French and German. It is pioneering work with keen observations of Turkish workers' children in Western Europa. His latest book, from 2013 is titled Mostari: A Bridge Keeper's Diary, around his stay in Mostar, and the bridge that was demolished in the war, and was recently rebuilt. As Vassaf indicates "It is a novel, an epic poem, the love story of a passerby who becomes enamoured by the bridge."

(WIN2009)

Archive available for: Gündüz Vassaf

  • Indonesië/Maleisië 2011

    The United Nations of Fish

    With: Abeer Soliman, Gündüz Vassaf, Maaza Mengiste, Rodaan Al Galidi

    'The United Nations of Fish, A Fundraising Dinner'. Writers read from their work during dinner, as a fundraising event for the newly opened Rumata Art Space. The evening is organised together with Janet deNeefe, director of the Bali book festival. The four writers on tour for Writers Unlimited will perform together with 'Aisha the little chef', Sese Lawing and local poets. Ticket price is Rp 200,000, to be purchased via eventrumata@gmail.com.

  • Indonesië/Maleisië 2011

    Writing in the Era of the New Media - Makassar

    With: Abeer Soliman, Gündüz Vassaf, Maaza Mengiste, Rodaan Al Galidi

    A programme with Abeer Soliman (Egypt), Tinrity The Naked Traveler (Indonesia) and others. Detailed information will follow soon.

  • Indonesië/Maleisië 2011

    Community Programme: Poet vs Politician- Makassar

    With: Abeer Soliman, Gündüz Vassaf, Maaza Mengiste, Rodaan Al Galidi

    In the opening debate of Poets VS Politicians, eight writers - both international and local -  will read from their work, and will be in a discussion. The local participants are Shinta Febriany, Hamran Sunu, Hendra GST, and Herna Aladjai. A debate in Indonesian with help of translators. How do writers see politicians? 

  • Indonesië/Maleisië 2011

    Opening Makassar International Writers Festival 2011

    With: Abeer Soliman, Gündüz Vassaf, Maaza Mengiste, Rodaan Al Galidi

    The opening night of the festival. With a short movie screening of 'Tribute to Mohammad Salim'. Salim is the translator of the classical maniscript of 'I La Galico'. The distinguished poet Sapardi Djoko Damono will perform this evening. Rodaan al Galidi will read from the classical manuscript, together with three Indonesian poems. Detailed programme will follow soon.
    Tickets: Limited seat, contact eventrumata@gmail.com.

  • Indonesië/Maleisië 2011

    Readings and music - Kuala Lumpur

    With: Abeer Soliman, Gündüz Vassaf, Maaza Mengiste, Rodaan Al Galidi

    An evening with reading and music. Eight writers will read from their work in the original language. English translations will be projected on screen simultaneously. With Gündüz Vassaf (Turkey), Maaza Mengiste (Ethiopia/USA), Abeer Soliman (Egypt) and Rodaan al Galidi (Netherlands/Iraq),  Dain Said (Malaysia), Kee Thuan Chye (Malaysia), Chua Guet Eng (Malaysia), Uthara Sankar SB (Malaysia) en Dipika Mukherjee (India). Writer Bernice Chauly is the MC. 
    Venue: 'No Black Tie', 17, Jalan Mesui, Kuala Lumpur.

  • Indonesië/Maleisië 2011

    Opening programme - Kuala Lumpur

    With: Abeer Soliman, Gündüz Vassaf, Maaza Mengiste, Rodaan Al Galidi

    The opening programma in The Annexe Gallery in Kuala Lumpur consists of readings by the authors, and a panel discussion. Part one stars at 10.3am, part two at 2.30pm. Admission is free. The four writers invited by Writers Unlimited will participate: Gündüz Vassaf (Turkey), Maaza Mengiste (Ethiopia/USA), Abeer Soliman (Egypt) and Rodaan al Galidi (Netherlands/Iraq). They will perform together with the Malaysian authors Dain Said, Kee Thuan Chye, Chua Guet Eng, Uthara Sankar SB and the Indian writer Dipika Mukherjee. The discussions are moderated by the Malaysian writers Amir Muhammad and Umpagan Ampikaipakan. Admission is free.

  • Indonesië/Maleisië 2011

    Reading at Taylor's University - Kuala Lumpur

    With: Abeer Soliman, Gündüz Vassaf, Maaza Mengiste, Rodaan Al Galidi

    The first performance in this tour is in Kuala Lumpur in the Experimental Theatre in Taylor's University. The writers will read from their work, and talk with the students and other visitors. The four writers invited by Writers Unlimited - Gündüz Vassaf (Turkey), Maaza Mengiste (Ethiopia/USA), Abeer Soliman (Egypt) and Rodaan al Galidi (Netherlands/Iraq) - will perform together with the Malaysian authors Dain Said, Kee Thuan Chye, Chua Guet Eng, Uthara Sankar SB and the Indian writer Dipika Mukherjee. All writers will read in their own language, and their texts will simultaneously be projected on screen in English translation. Admission is free.

  • Turkije 2010

    Writers Conference - part 2

    With: Anil Ramdas, Bejan Matur, Gündüz Vassaf, Hakan Gunday, Hamdi Koç, Hassan Daoud, Melida Tüzünoglu, Ramsey Nasr, Ronelda S. Kamfer

    Final session of a two day closed writer's meeting with the four writers travelling on invitation of Winternachten, and four Turkish writers: Bejan Matur, Hakan Gunday, Hamdi Koc and Melida Tuzunoglu, on the theme Global writing - global conscience. The sessions are chaired by writer Gündüz Vassaf.

  • Turkije 2010

    Writers Conference - part 1

    With: Anil Ramdas, Bejan Matur, Gündüz Vassaf, Hakan Gunday, Hamdi Koç, Hassan Daoud, Melida Tüzünoglu, Ramsey Nasr, Ronelda S. Kamfer

    Start of a two day closed writer's meeting with the four writers travelling on invitation of Winternachten, and four Turkish writers: Bejan Matur, Hakan Gunday, Hamdi Koc and Melida Tuzunoglu, on the theme Global writing - global conscience. The sessions are chaired by writer Gündüz Vassaf.

  • Winternachten 2009

    Winternachten in Tropentheater: Counter Talk - literature from the Turkish region

    With: Funda Müjde, Gündüz Vassaf, Kamran Nazirli, Margreet Dorleijn, Nese Yasin, Perihan Magden, Selim Temo

    On Sunday afternoon, Tegenspraak (Counter Talk) a programme in cooperation with Winternachten with literature from the Turkish region, took place in Tropentheater Amsterdam. For a long time there has been a critical tradition in Turkish literature, with writers aiming their grievances at the powers that be. As early as the Ottoman Empire there has been sharp criticism, notably from the poet Tefik Fikret. Fikret shuns the Sultan and all religion. He takes a stand against everything that is regarded as holy and against the glorification of history. For the programme Tegenspraak: Turkish Controverses five Turkish authors were invited, all of them writing in the critical literary tradition of Fikret, authors who in their literary work and in columns deal with politics and society.
    The writers treated the audience on their literary current affairs. The programme was hosted by Margreet Dorleijn and Funda Müjde. See www.tropentheater.nl.

  • Winternachten 2009

    How to Bluff your Way into Turkish Literature

    With: Funda Müjde, Gündüz Vassaf, Kamran Nazirli, Margreet Dorleijn, Nese Yasin, Perihan Magden, Selim Temo

    In the crash course 'How to Bluff Your Way into Turkish Literature' the richness of Turkish language and literature was presented. No fewer than five writers had been invited by Winternachten: three writers from Turkey, a Turkish poet from the Greek part of Cyprus, and a writer from Azerbaijan (Azeri is a Turkish language).
    The diversity of the guests should have been a sign of the complexity of the subject: Turkish is not only spoken in Turkey and the country itself knows several different languages. In Turkey, literature is still used for activistic and emancipatory goals contrary to contemporary Dutch literature.
    In presenting fragments of their own work, the social context of the work clearly stands out: corruption, the influential role of the militairy apparatus, the problems of poor communities and the difficult access to good education for these groups. By the end of the afternoon, it's clear that Turkish literature indeed consists of much more then the work of Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk. Turkish literature proves to be broad and vivid, consisting of socially concerned writers.

  • Winternachten 2009

    Five Do's and Don'ts for Barack Obama

    With: Ashwani Saith, Chantal Mouffe, Gündüz Vassaf, Michaël Zeeman, Naema Tahir, Nelleke Noordervliet

    Five writers and thinkers from four corners of the globe came together at Winternachten to provide Barack Obama with their do's and don'ts. After formulating their piece of advice students of the Institute of Social Studies reacted on the comments.
    Host Michaël Zeeman was surprised by the cynical and even activistic reaction of the students. Where the writers are eager and hopefull for the change this new president can bring, the students turned out to be very sceptical.

    Participants of the debate were writers Nelleke Noordervliet and Naema Tahir, the British-Belgian political philosopher Chantal Mouffe, Turkish writer and psychologist Gündüz Vassaf and development economist Ashwani Saith from India. They each formulated one piece of advice for Obama. Students of the Institute of Social Studies (ISS), hailing from southern countries, were to react to these recommendations. Once decided on, the following do's and dont's were shipped to the White House:

    Do's and don't's for Barack Obama Ashwani Saith:
    Palestine! Dismantle walls, build justice!
    Share a cigar with Fidel!
    Disarm! Transfer farm subsidies to African peasants
    Think of multilateralism, not neo-imperialism
    Confluence, not clash of civilisations
    Nurture nature, don't sell it
    Protect workers, not tycoons
    Social, not 'bastard' Keynesianism
    And, oh, yes - keep sharing your toys …
    Chantal Mouffe:
    Acknowledge that the world is multi-polar and that the US cannot behave any more as the sole legitimate centre of power. Diversity exists. Diversity and identity underpin everything.
    Gündüz Vassaf:
    Think also as a world citizen.
    Be bold, focus on right not re-election. Make peace, not war.
    You're a giant – tread lightly.
    Prioritise without partisanship: Israel/Palestine
    Nelleke Noordervliet:
    Appoint a court-jester who keeps telling you the truth.
    Be more a Philosopher-King than a King-Warrior
    Naema Tahir:
    Be the leader who inspires all to contribute to the good of society by encouraging the belief that good deeds and good behaviour rests in all
    Students of the Institute of Social Studies:
    Do no harm to foreign countries
    Don't be the leader of the world
    Don't impose yourself on others
    Remember the principles you had in your campaign
    Imagine other paradigms
    Act!

    On Friday 1 May 2009 their will be a follow-up of the debate, in cooperation with the ISS, exacly 100 days after his inauguration.

  • Winternachten 2009 – Winternachten zaterdagavond

    Wintercafé 4 The folds of language

    In The Folds of Language Selim Temo (Kurdish), Kamran Nazirli (Azerbaijani) and Gündüz Vassaf (Turkey) read and talked about their daily struggle not to have their language kidnapped by politics or taboo. Turkish/Dutch/English.

  • Winternachten 2009 – Winternachten vrijdagavond

    Wintercafé 3: Metamorphoses

    In the programme Metamorphoses three authors read about metamorphoses with gusto. Gündüz Vassaf (Turkey) made Istanbul speak. Nury Vittachi (Hongkong) gave satirical examples of East-West metamorphoses. And the Moroccan writer Youssouf Amine Elalamy told a story in which metamorphoses are rampant.