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Sana Valiulina

Sana Valiulina - foto Otto Snoek
Sana Valiulina - foto Otto Snoek

(Estonia, 1964) grew up in Tallinn in a family of non-religious Islamic Tatars. She studied Norwegian language and literature in Moscow and moved to Amsterdam in 1989. In 2000 her debut the novel Het Kruis (The Cross) appeared, about life in a student flat in Moscow. In 2002 it was followed by the anthology of novellas Vanuit nergens met liefde (From Nowhere with Love). For her monumental epos Didar en Faroek (2006), about WOII and its aftermath in the Soviet Union she was nominated for the Libris Literatuur Prijs. This love story about two people who are separated by war and terror but eventually succeed in finding each other again, is partly based on her own family history. 'The novel is reminiscent of the great Russian narrative tradition (...) a monument', wrote the weekly De Groene Amsterdammer. Following it she aimed her arrows at Dutch society writing Honderd jaar gezelligheid (Hundred Years of Cosiness; 2010). In this novel she wonders what it means to be young in a country where cosiness has become a national obsession. Recently, she published the acclaimed Kinderen van Brezjnev (2014) followed by Winterse Buien of ben ik wel geïntegreerd genoeg (2016).

(WU 2014 GR)

Archive available for: Sana Valiulina

  • Winternachten 2017 – Saturday Night Unlimited

    The Return of Sultans & Tsars?

    Dutch-Estonian writer Sana Valiulina, the Turkish writer and journalist Ece Temelkuran and and famous Russian novelist Mikhail Shishkin discuss the backgrounds of the current turbulent period in Turkey and Russia. How far back in history must we go to understand contemporary Turkey and Russia? Which collective trauma's, frustrations and sentiments are at the roots of recent developments? Hosted by Dutch essayist and P.C.Hooft Award 2017 winner Bas Heijne. English spoken.

    Since the failed coup of Summer 2016, Turkey goes through a grim period. Not only the military but also dissidents are persecuted. Many journalists are refrained from working, many scientists and intellectuals are not allowed to travel abroad. But the trend of intimidating the intelligentsia dates back before the coup. In 2015, writer and Nobel Prize for Literature winner Orhan Pamuk already warned in The Guardian that fear gets the upperhand in Turkey: "I notice that everybody is afraid...the freedom of speech has sunk deeply."

    Things are not much better in Russia. Mikhail Shishkin wrote about how Russian media under the Putin regime have changed into weapons of mass destruction aimed at convincing the population that Russia is again at war with the West. Within this rethoric of war, each form of criticism is a sign of treason. This legitimizes oppression of dissidents.

    Ece Temelkuran is a Turkish journalist and political commentator, and author of Turkey: The Insane and the Melancholy.

    Dutch-Estonian Sana Valiulina tells in her Children of Brezjnev (2014) what the Soviet system has demolished regarding civilisation and how moral decline gained momentum during the post-soviet era.

  • Winternachten 2014

    NRC Leesclub Live: The Red Cavalry, by Isaak Babel

    With: Bas Heijne, Elsbeth Etty, Michel Krielaars, Sana Valiulina

    A valued tradition of the festival: the NRC Reading Club Live. Visitors read a book and give their opinion. But first we give the floor to the panel, consisting of Elsbeth Etty, Bas Heijne and guest editor Sana Valiulina, and hosted by Michel Krielaars, head of the book pages of NRC Handelsblad. This time we read The Red Cavalry from the collected stories by Isaak Babel.

    Isaak Babel (1894-1940) has many admirers, also in the Netherlands, from writers Tommy Wieringa to Arnon Grunberg, from book critics Arjan Peters (Volkskrant) to Michel Krielaars (NRC Handelsblad). His Red Cavalry Stories are among the master pieces in Russian literature. The stories were recently published anew in an elegant new translation, in a hardback edition by Van Oorschot Publishers.

    In the Red Cavalry Stories Isaak Babel wrote about his experiences during the Polish-Russian war, to which he was sent by his literary mentor Gorki 'to discover real life'. The stories are full of blood and random killings, told in a down-to-earth style, and that's what makes them so penetrating.

    Isaak Babel supported the Bolshevist revolution but he couldn't and didn't want to close his eyes for its sometimes gruesome consequences and that's exactly what he wrote about. That's why the police and the censors were after him all the time. He was arrested in 1939 and sentenced to death and executed on Stalin's orders.

    "You get into a trance by Isaak Babel's incredible style." (Arjan Peters, Volkskrant)

    "All in all Babel is the artist convincing the reader of a completely new vision of the world." (New York Review of Books)

    Don't forget to read the book, and bring it with you!