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Arnon Grunberg, Michel Faber, Tomas Sedlacek and many other top writers at Winternachten festival (19-22 January 2017) in The Hague

Affiche Winternachten 2017. Foto Stephen McMennamy ComboPhotos | vormgeving Eindeloos
Affiche Winternachten 2017. Foto Stephen McMennamy ComboPhotos | vormgeving Eindeloos

From Thursday 9 January up to and including Sunday 22 January 2017 Winternachten Festival brings together writers, journalist, thinkers, poets and audiences in Theater aan het Spui and Filmhuis Den Haag. The 22nd edition of the most beautiful literary event of The Netherlands carries the motto 'Is This the Real Life?' – about what exists but remains hidden, and about fake – that what isn't there but is shown to us.

During the festival events Friday & Saturday Night Unlimited this motto is at the heart of debates like 'This is Not America', 'IS: The Horror Show', 'Fictie in tijden van Fake' and 'De verborgen stad'.

Among the eighty guests, the festival welcomes top writers from The Netherlands like Ian Buruma, Arnon Grunberg, Tommy Wieringa, Bas Heijne, Joke Hermsen and, from abroad, Michel Faber, TomᚠSedláček, Gündüz Vassaf, Mikhail Shishkin and Salena Godden. Spoken Beat Night performs a mixture of jazz, spoken word, world music, live animation and funky beats. During the festival the Oxfam Novib PEN Awards and the Jan Campert prizes will be handed out.

Winternachten is a four-day festival that inspires by different stories, new perspectives and topical themes. International and Dutch-language writers reflect during public interviews and debates, at film screenings and music performances on the larger as well as the more banal topics The Netherlands and Europe grapple with.

Winternachten welcomes everyone seeking food for thought, everyone interested in philosophy, novels, poems and non-fiction, everyone interested in getting a different perspective on topical themes, everyone wanting to listen or participate, wanting to meet and share.

Guests Winternachten 2017 (this list will be updated with more names)

From the Dutch language area:

  • Arnon Grunberg, writer of ao. 'Blauwe Maandagen', 'Tirza', 'Moedervlekken' en daily column 'Voetnoot' in the Volkskrant.
  • Tommy Wieringa, writer of awarded novels like 'Joe Speedboot' and 'Dit zijn de namen'.
  • Joke Hermsen, writer and philosopher known for ao. 'De liefde dus' about Belle van Zuylen and 'Stil de tijd' about time as a phenomenon.
  • Frank Westerman, former NRC correspondent in ao. Moscow, now full time writer of ao. 'De Slag om Srebrenica' and 'Een woord, een woord'.
  • Margriet Oostveen, journalist, writer of 'Botox on K Street en andere gezichten van Amerika', columnist at ao. NRC Handelsblad and currently de Volkskrant.
  • Hassnae Bouazza, journalist, writer of 'Arabieren kijken: de alledaagse revolutie', columnist, programme curator and Winternachten-host.
  • Bas Heijne, writer, interviewer, literary translator. Regularly publishes essays (recently 'Onbehagen') and columns in NRC Handelsblad.
  • Stephan Sanders, writer ('De Man en zijn lichaam', together with Arie Boomsma), essayist, columnist (ao. Vrij Nederland and de Volkskrant) and Winternachten host.
  • Marieke Rijneveld, writer, poet and editor of De Revisor. Winner of the 2016 C. Buddingh Prize for best poetry debut of the year for her 'Kalfsvlies'.
  • Maarten van der Graaff, poet and essayist, co-founder of online poetry magazine Samplekanon and winner C. Buddingh Prize 2014 for 'Vluchtautogedichten'. Published 'Dood werk' in 2015.
  • Baban Kirkuki writes poetry since he was 16, fled Iraq in 1999 and is now based in Utrecht. He published four collections of poems, among which 'Licht onbekend' in 2013.

(this list will be updated with more guests)

From abroad:

  • Ian Buruma, British-Dutch writer, japanologist and essayist. Publishes articles in The New York Times, The Guardian, NRC Handelsblad and recently his family history 'Their Promised Land: My Grandparents in Love and War'.
  • Dorit Rabinyan, Israeli writer of ao. 'Persian Brides' en 'Borderlife'.
  • Mircea Cărtărescu, considered the greatest modern Romanian writer, read his Orbitor trilogy!
  • Rodrigo Hasbún, Bolivian writer (Jonathan Safran Foer: "He is not a good writer. He is one of the greatest"). His novel 'Affections' appeared in Dutch titled 'Woeste jaren'.
  • Michel Faber, born in The Hague, famous Australian writer of ao. monumental novel ' The Crimson Petal and The White' and recently 'The Book of Strange New Things'.
  • TomᚠSedláček, prominent Czech economist, thinker, university lecturer and strategist for Czech bank CSOB; rose to international fame for his bestselling 'Economics of Good and Evil'.
  • Mikhail Shishkin, prominent, awarded Russian writer and journalist of ao. 'Letter Book'.
  • Salena Godden, author of 'Springfield Road', 'Fishing In The Aftermath' and 'Under The Pier' is one of Britain's foremost poets and regular headliner at literary and music festivals. Her new live spoken word album LIVEwire has attracted rave reviews since it's launch in 2016 including a 5 star review in The iPaper.
  • Hassan Blasim, film maker and writer; fled Iraq and now lives in Finland; published short stories collections 'The Madman of Freedom Square' and 'The Corpse Exhibition'.
  • Piotr Ibrahim Kalwas, Polish novelist and journalist, regularly publishes about Egypt, ao. 'Egipt, haram halal'.

(this list will be updated with more guests)

The festival 's events in Theater aan het Spui and Filmhuis Den Haag include the Opening Night (19 January) with the international Oxfam Novib PEN Awards Ceremony, the varied evening programmes Friday Night Unlimited (20 January) and Saturday Night Unlimited (21 January); book clubs and public interviews on Saturday afternoon. In Theater aan het Spui, Dutch national broadcaster VPRO presents its radio programma OVT live on Sunday morning 22 January while Het Schrijversfeest ('Writers Party') closes Winternachten on Sunday afternoon with the Jan Campert Awards and The Hague Young Poets Award ceremonies.

On Friday 20 January, the day of the inauguration of the US president, Winternachten presents during Friday Night Unlimited debates like 'Fiction in times of Fake' with ao. Michel Faber, Dorit Rabinyan and TomᚠSedláček; 'Europe in the eyes of refugees' with ao. Tommy Wieringa, Baban Kirkuki and Salena Godden and 'This is (not) America' with ao. Ian Buruma, Arnon Grunberg and Margriet Oostveen hosted by Stephan Sanders. Animated feature film 'Anomalisa' and fragments from hit series 'House of Cards' are introduced by writer Rodrigo Hasbún and philosophers Tom Dommisse and Stine Jensen with a focus on the relationship between film and literature, representation and reality.

During Saturday Night Unlimited Winternachten offers programmes like 'The book of my life!' with ao. Joke Hermsen, Bas Heijne and Piotr Ibrahim Kalwas; 'The hidden city' with commissioned short stories written by ao. Mikhail Shishkin about Moscow and Mircea Cărtărescu about Bucharest; and 'IS, the Horror Show' with ao. Arnon Grunberg, Hassan Blasim hosted by Hassnae Bouazza. Michel Faber introduces feature film 'Under the Skin', based upon his own novel. Gerlinda Heywegen lectures about visual propaganda with comments by documentary film maker Hassan Blasim.

Also during the festival period, Winternachten organises outreach programmes in Theater Dakota, the Institute for Social Studies and in some special shops on and around Noordeinde. In collaboration with the Haags Dichtersgilde (The Hague Poets Guild) secondary school students from The Hague take part in recitation classes, write poems and attend the festival during which ten of them will read their own poems.

During Friday Night Unlimited and Saturday Night Unlimited visitors may choose for Dutch or English language programme routes or choose combinations. Films are shown in original versions with Dutch or English subtitling.

Information and tickets
Information about the programme and tickets:


  • Friday Night Unlimited, from €10, one ticket gives access to all of the evening's programmes
  • Saturday Night Unlimited, from €10, one ticket gives access to all of the evening's programmes
  • Opening Night, Leesclub, interview on Saturday afternoon or Schrijversfeest, from €7,50
  • VPRO's OVT live: free entrance

UITpas: €2,50 reduction on all tickets
CJP / Studenten / Ooievaarspas: 50% reduction on all tickets

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published on: Wednesday 28 September 2016