Sjoerd de Jong
(Rotterdam, NL, 1960) is the ombudsman of NRC Handelsblad newspaper. He studied philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. From 1983 to 1985 he created the faculty publication Cimedart. In 1990 he started working for NRC Handelsblad, first as copy editor, then as coordinator and assistant editor-in-chief of the national affairs section. He was involved in setting up the paper's website. From 1999 to 2005 he headed the Books section and wrote an opinion column. In 1989 he co-wrote with "student leader" Maarten van Poelgeest the latter's premature memoir, Zo doen we dat dus (That's How We Do It). He also published mini-biographies of Richard Burton, Marcel Proust and Bob Dylan, and illustrated Maarten Doorman's animal stories for the collection Elk beest zijn vet (Every Animal's Stripes). A collection of De Jong's columns was published in 2005 under the title Spijtwraak (Regret-Revenge).(2017)
Archive available for: Sjoerd de Jong
With: Anass Habib, Celal Altuntas, Farah Karimi, Ian Buruma, Jennifer Clement, Kamal Hors, Lex Bohlmeijer, Malini Subramaniam, Michaïl Sjisjkin, Peter Abspoel, Sjoerd de Jong, Ton van de Langkruis, Vonne van der Meer
On the festival's Opening Night, the focus is on freedom of speech. The evening started with Mikhail Shishkin, one of the most prominent representatives of contemporary Russian literature, delivering the Free the Word! speech. Next, the Oxfam Novib PEN Awards were handed out. The debate ''Writing in times of super-diversity' with writers Ian Buruma, Celal Altuntas and Peter Abspoel closed the evening.
The Opening Night is an English spoken programme organized in collaboration with Oxfam Novib, PEN International and PEN Nederland.
Free the Word!-speech by Mikhail Shishkin
Shishkin is the author of four widely acclaimed novels Pismovnik (2010), Maidenhair (2005), Taking of Izmail (2000) and Larionov´s Memoirs (1994), Shishkin is admired as a refined stylist whose fiction engages Russian and European literary traditions and forges an equally expansive vision for the future of literature. Shishkin has worked as a teacher and journalist. His novels have earned him the three most prestigious Russian literary awards: the Russian Booker Prize in 2000, the National Bestseller Prize in 2005, and the Bolshaya Kniga (Big Book) Prize in 2006 and 2011. His works have been translated into thirty languages.
Oxfam Novib PEN Awards
Afterward, the presentation of the prestigious Oxfam Novib PEN Awards honoured today's writers who risk their freedom and even their lives to seek out and publish the truth. The winners were be announced: the Palestine poetr Ashraf Fayadh, who is imprisoned in Saudi Arabia, and the Indian journalist Malini Subramaniam. The latter was able to come over to The Hague to receive the award from Farah Karimi, director of Oxfam Novib.
Debate with Ian Buruma, Celal Altuntas and Peter Abspoel
The debate 'Writing in times of super-diversity' followed, featuring writer and essayist Ian Buruma (New York Times, Guardian, NRC), writer Celal Altuntas (a.o. Het dorp van zeven broers / The Village of Seven Brothers) and anthropologist/writer Peter Abspoel (a.o. Zingeving in het Westen / Giving meaning in the West) as well as moderator Sjoerd de Jong, journalist and ombudsman with NRC Handelsblad newspaper. The subject was "Writing in times of super-diversity."
Host and music
This program was presented by Lex Bohlmeijer, with musical accompaniment by Kamal Hors (oud, voice) and Anass Habib (deff, voice).
The NRC-Handelsblad reading club came live from Winternachten. Bas Heijne, Elsbeth Etty and Sjoerd de Jong publicly discussed Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness, in thetranslation by Bas Heijne.
Last year Winternachten experienced the successful premiere of the Reading Club Live. This year's reading club focussed on Conrad's classic Heart of Darkness.
Heart of Darkness, which appeared in bookform in 1902, is the haunting report of a descet into hell on the river Congo, as told by Charley Marlow. He is looking for the legendary commercial agent Mr Kurtz, who has opened a mission post in the depths of the jungle. When Marlow finally finds his icon, bewilderment strikes hard. In the heart of darkness 'Mistah Kurtz' ruled like a cruel god over the savages. When a dying Kurtz passes judgement on the adventures of his soul on earth his lasy words are: 'The horror! The horror!' A scream which echoed all through the last century. Dutch spoken.