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Petina Gappah

Petina Gappah - foto Patrick Bertschmann
Petina Gappah - foto Patrick Bertschmann

(Zimbabwe, 1971) had an immediate breakthrough in eight countries, including the Netherlands, with her literary debut An Elegy for Easterly (2009). It won the Guardian First Book Award in December of that year.It contains thirteen short stories that portray the the lives of ordinary people suffering under the Mugabe regime (inflation, chaos, AIDS) with sensitivity and humour. It was a long wait for her first novel, The Book of Memory, which was published in late 2015. It is about 28-year-old Memory, who is sentenced to death for the murder of Lloyd Hendricks, her adoptive father. In harsh prison conditions, she writes a reconstruction of her life in order to plead for her freedom. Gappah studied law in Zimbabwe and Cambridge, and works in Switzerland as a legal advisor on commercial law in developing countries.


Archive available for: Petina Gappah

  • Winternachten 2016

    World Storytelling at the Institute of Social Studies

    With: Kees Biekart, Petina Gappah

    Listen to stories from near and far on the theme of "With the Best of Intentions". They will be told by African, Latin American and Asian students, as well as festival guest Petina Gappah. Do you have a story that fits the bill? Come down to the ISS and get registered. In English

  • Winternachten 2016 – Saturday Night Unlimited

    Where Can You Hide?

    Four innocent young women looking for refuge. In Forgotten, José Eduardo Agualusa tells the story of Ludo, who locks herself in her home on the eve of Angola's independence. She stays there for three decades while wars rage outside. In The Book of Memory, Petina Gappah gives voice to an albino girl named Memory who is abused by her white adoptive father. The girl tells her shocking story from a jail cell. In Joanna Bator's novel Dark, almost Night, Alicja tries to uncover her deceased sister's secret in the abandoned house on the Polish-German border where she once lived with her family. And in his new novel Fire Stack, György Dragomán introduces Emma, a girl whose grandmother picks her up from an orphanage in the middle of the Romanian revolution.

  • Winternachten 2016 – Saturday Night Unlimited

    Seven Deadly Sins

    Pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, anger and sloth. The seven deadly sins are inseparable from literature, film and visual art. The festival asked seven authors to each choose one and write a fresh text about it. Tonight you'll hear sinful stories from home and abroad, with accompanying music by Dick van der Harst. A superb literary-musical programme to enjoy with abandon. José Eduardo Agualusa, Slavenka Drakulić, Mira Feticu, Petina Gappah, Daan Heerma van Voss, Andrej Kurkov and Neel Mukherjee read in their own language, with simultaneous translations projected in English and Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2016 – Friday Night Unlimited

    The Text of My Life: Petina Gappah

    In Filmhuis Studio A the festival's guest writers present their favourite literary texts and explain why a particular poem, novel excerpt, or song lyric influenced their life and work. Which memory, what feeling does this text call up for them? A continuous interview programme, in which the audience also talks with the writers. Hosted by Arjan Peters. In English

    Petina Gappah replaces Alaa al Aswani for this event.

  • Antillen 2012

    Krusa Laman - Villa Maria Curaçao

    With: Cathleen Giterson, David Van Reybrouck, Favell Maduro, Frank Martinus Arion, Grupo Serenada, Guineta de Palm, Helon Habila, Lucille Berry-Haseth, Merietza Haakmat, Petina Gappah, Rodaan Al Galidi

    A wonderful evening full of stories, poems and songs in a beautiful open air theatre in Curaçao, Villa Maria. Merietza Haakmat & Favell Maduro will be the MC's for the Belgian writer David van Reybrouck, the poet from Curaçao Lucille Berry-Haseth, writer Petina Gappah from Zimbabwe, the singers of Serenada, the stories by Guineta de Palm, writer Helon Habila from Nigeria, author Cathleen Giterson from Curaçao and poet Rodaan Al Galidi from The Netherlands. All authors will perform in their own language. Translations to English and Papiamentu will be projected on screen simultaneously.

  • Antillen 2012

    Literary debate in Teatro Luna Blou - Curaçao

    With: David Van Reybrouck, Helon Habila, Mario Kleinmoedig, Miriam Sluis, Petina Gappah, Rhazul and his Group, Richenel Ansano, Rodaan Al Galidi, Sheila Payne

    An evening with storytelling, writers conversations and readings. The evening opens with storyteller Sheila Payne. Then Mario Kleinmoedig will moderate to talks with writers on the theme 'The Power of Memory'. Helon Habila (Nigeria/USA) and David van Reybrouck (Belgie), author of 'Congo, A History', will meet  Miriam Sluis, who published several books on the history of the Dutch Caribean. The second talk brings  together the Curaçao poet Richenel (Muz) Ansano, the Dutch/Iraqi poet Rodaan Al Galidi and writer Petina Gappah from Zimbabwe. There is live music by Rhazul and his Group. All talks are in English.

  • Antillen 2012

    Crusa Lama - Aruba

    With: Caresse Isings, David Van Reybrouck, Dora Lauffer-Mathilda, Elisabeth Pope, Helon Habila, Jacques Thönissen, Jossy Tromp, Petina Gappah, Rodaan Al Galidi, Ryan Maduro, Sharon Rose, Victor Mathilda

    An evening with writers, poets and musicians from Aruba, with four foreign guests from Writers Unlimited. Readings of prose, poetry, storytelling and music in a beautiful surrounding, the garden of the library of Aruba.

  • Antillen 2012

    Crossing the Seas - Sint Maarten

    With: David Van Reybrouck, Gino Olivacce, Helon Habila, Marianne Tefft, Petina Gappah, Rodaan Al Galidi, Stephen Rodney

    The four authors who visit the eiland of St Martin on behalf of Writers Unlimited, will perform together with local authors and muscians Marianne Tefft, Giovanni Olivacce en Stephen "Stretch" Rodney. The morning after this performance, the writers will perform at secondary schools on the island.

  • Winternachten 2010 – Winternachten 2

    Decisive rules

    Whether literature offers solace or confusion, whether it shows the way or disorders, every writer must have been moved in the course of his or her life by a passage, a line, an image or a poem which gave direction to his or her life. Was it a boys' book? A text on a tile? A column? Or rather that highly valued, often quoted passage from world literature? Jonathan Safran Foer, Tash Aw, Ramsey Nasr, Joke van Leeuwen and Petina Gappah read those passages that changed their lives for good, and reveal what happened to them when they read those lines for the first time. The programme starts with a reading from his work by the Iranian author Shahriar Mandanipour.
    In English

  • Winternachten 2010 – Winternachten 2

    The need for chaos

    Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe/Switzerland) and Vamba Sherif (the Netherlands/Liberia) both live in a very much regulated society, but write about chaotic and deregulated societies. Joris Luyendijk talks to them about the question whether chaos and disorder are a prerequisite without which no literature would come about – think about Dutch writers travelling to the Balkan or Afghanistan for inspiration. Do Dutch writers have to look for chaos in order to write literature which really matters? Or do you, as a writer, have to be afraid of chaos and even in the most extreme circumstances have to go in search for something lasting? One can wonder if Gappah and Sherif would have become writers had they been born in the quiet surroundings of the Alps or the flat and regimented landscape of the Netherlands.
    In English.