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Jan Brokken

foto M.C.S. Hamonic
foto M.C.S. Hamonic

(Leyden, 1949) has won a lot of praise for his latest book Baltische zielen (Baltic souls), 27 portraits of Baltic families. 'By chronicling the fate of generations of relatives, he gives a face to people in successive communist dictatorships', Hans Renders wrote about this book in Vrij Nederland. Brokken grew up in Rhoon, where his father was a minister in the Dutch Reformed church. He studied journalism in Utrecht and political science in Bordeaux. After a career in journalism (working for Trouw and HP/De Tijd, among other publications) he decided in 1986 to become a fulltime writer. His debut, De provincie (The province, 1984), which was adapted for the screen, had already appeared and been reviewed approvingly. More than 20 titles were to follow - fiction and non-fiction or a mixture of both - laying bare the history of countries he visited, from Africa and the Caribbean to Indonesia. In his work Brokken shows that reality is often more absurd than fiction. Baltische zielen is a fine example of this.

(WU 2012 GRGR!)

Archive available for: Jan Brokken

  • Winternachten 2012

    Winternachten Lecture

    With: Bas Heijne, Helon Habila, Henk Pröpper, Jan Brokken, Pearlmira Vincent

    Literature as a Way of Seeing
    Nigerian journalist/writer Helon Habila opens the festival with a lecture about literature as the art of seeing. Those who witness injustice can look away or walk away. A real writer, argues Habila, can't, because the writer is fascinated by that image and haunted by it until he writes about it. How can literature sharpen our view and increase our empathy? How do fiction and truth relate to each other? In his new novel Oil on Water, Habila exposes the abuses surrounding oil drilling in Nigeria without wagging his finger. The novel won a lot of praise and has been compared to Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Soprano Pearlmira Vincent will sing an aria by Antonín Dvořák. Henk Pröpper, director of De Bezige Bij publishing house, and former director of the Dutch Foundation for Literature, will officially open the festival. After Habila's lecture Bas Heijne interviews the writer and chairs a discussion with Jan Brokken and Helon Habila. In English.
    Mansoura Ez Eldin (Egypt), had to cancel her performance for family reasons.

  • Winternachten 2006 – WINTERNACHT 1

    Chopin on Curaçao - a journey to the sources of Antillean music

    In 1993 writer Jan Brokken settled on Curaçao. He rented a house which had a piano and he spent his first night playing some of Chopin's mazurka's. The following morning he was embraced by his neighbour who exclaimed "I heared you play the piano last night and you were playing our music." That was the beginning of a fascination that led Brokken from Curaçao to Aruba, Cuba, Martinique, Guadeloupe and Trinidad, where he found the same musical patterns everywhere. He collected and took with him a wealth of stories and anecdotes from unique musicians . In Waarom elf Antillianen knielden voor het hart van Chopin (Why eleven Antilleans kneeled before the heart of Chopin), Jan Brokken's latest book, he illuminates one and a half century of Caribbean music. 'In the Caribbean music', he writes, 'I found what I was looking for in my travel stories: that is how different cultures merge into one another.' Using this music as a guideline Jan Brokken offers an unique insight into Antillean history, its way of life and the mentality. This evening you can listen to the story of Jan Brokken and to the music of the Konjunto Antyano quartet, directed by Randal Corsen. Dutch spoken.

  • Winternachten 2000 – Winternacht 2

    The Uncertain Journey

    Hugo Pos (Paramaribo, 1913-2000) was nestor of Surinamese-Dutch literature. Hij made his debut as a writer when he was 71 years of age. He discussed his work and his new book 'De ongewisse tijd'. Jan Brokken lives at Curaçao and from there travels around the world, searching for stories. In 'Jungle Rudy', he described a search through the jungles of Venezuela for the eccentric character of Rudy Truffino. The Aruban-Dutch writer Denis Henriquez presented his first travelling novel 'De zomer van Alejandro Bulos'. Hosted by Michiel van Kempen. Dutch spoken.