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Winternachten Festival: striking words, profound observations and imaginative guiding

Winternachten international literature festival The Hague welcomes over 80 writers, journalists and thinkers from The Netherlands and abroad. The programme offers dozens of interviews about books, contemplative conversations about topical themes, recitations of texts written for the occasion of the festival, film screenings and awards presentations. The festival takes place in The Hague from Thursday 19 up to and including Sunday 22 January 2017 in Theater aan het Spui and Filmhuis Den Haag. For tickets and the full programme see

Winternachten Festival motto: Is this the real life?
Festival curator and programmer Shervin Nekuee about the upcoming edition: "Opposite the commercialised image of the happy consumer or the entrepreneur, freely operating within the market, stands a different reality. That of a political community at the crossroads of big questions: how to deal with the refugees coming to Europe; what are the words and the weapons with which to answer the terroristic attacks; how to relate to the return of the populist politics and the wish for the strong leader - from the United States to Turkey and Russia. And how to confront our own agoraphobia and xenophobia in times of our globalized streets and cities? Winternachten Festival 2017 offers conversations with writers, poets, thinkers and journalists providing us during these turbulant times striking words, profound observations and imaginative guidance."

Topicalities during Friday & Saturday Night Unlimited
During the festival evenings Friday Night Unlimited and Saturday Night Unlimited, topical themes are discussed during dozens of converations with a.o. international top writers Colson Whitehead (US), Dorit Rabinyan (ISR), Ian Buruma (NL/US), Mircea Cărtărescu (RO), Mikhail Shishkin (RU), Olga Grjasnowa (DE/EE) and Tomas Sedlacek (CZ)(see also hereafter) and a.o. Dutch auteurs Arnon Grunberg, Tommy Wieringa, Bas Heijne, Christine Otten, Frank Westerman, Hassnae Bouazza, Rodaan Al Galidi, Margriet Oostveen and Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer. Discussion topics are, among many more, president Trump's USA, IS' terror campaign, the Turkish and Russian leaders, hidden urban stories, the fairy tales we share about ourselves on social media, conquering injustice with words, the image that refugees have about Europe and an analysis of anxiety in The Netherlands. Visitors can choose their own route along the many events in four auditoriums of Theater aan het Spui and Filmhuis Den Haag. The programme is 50/50 English and Dutch spoken.
Friday 20 and Saturday 21 January 2017, 20:00-01:00

Tomas Sedlacek about economics and the Bible
Reading the Bible with Sedlacek promises an inspiring event: a dialogue with the world-famous macro-economist Tomas Sedlacek about the fascinating relation between economics and Biblic stories. He discusses four chapters with the audience: chapters 2 and 3 from Genesis, chapter 1 from Job and chapter 15 from Luke. Sedlacek is known for his clear-cutting, associative and sparkling debating style. He pleads a more socially engaged economy and convincingly links economical phenomenon with for example religious awareness, myths and philosophy. English spoken!
Saturday 21 January 2017, Theater aan het Spui, 14:00-15:15

Louise O. Fresco about iconic novel The Ten Thousand Things
In NRC Leesclub (Reading Club) Live, Louise O. Fresco discusses the novel De tienduizend dingen (The Ten Thousand Things, 1955) by Maria Dermoût. Fresco is a writer, agricultarist and CEO of the University of Wageningen. She discusses with the audience about why this novel inspires, moves and motivates her and why it remains a topical and relevant book. Dutch spoken!
Saturday 21 January 2017, Theater aan het Spui, 16:00-17:15

Opening Night, VPRO's OVT and Schrijversfeest
Winternachten Festival's Opening Night focuses on the freedom of speech and offers a lecture by Russian writer Mikhail Shishkin, the Oxfam Novib PEN Awards Ceremony and a panel conversation about super diversity with esssayist Ian Buruma and writers Celal Altuntas and Peter Abspoel. English spoken.
Sunday morning, visitors are invited - free entrance - to attend the live registration, Dutch spoken, of VPRO radio programme OVT.
Sunday afternoon, Winternachten Festival celebrates Dutch literature during the Schrijversfeest (Writers Party) with a.o. a lecture by writer Karin Amatmoekrim and the awards ceremony of the Hague literary prizes in collaboration with the Jan Campert Foundation. Dutch spoken.
Thursday 19 January 2017 (Opening Night), 20:00-22:00; Sunday 22 January 2017 (OVT and Schrijversfeest), 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-16:00 respectively.

World Storytelling at Institute of Social Studies
Listen to stories from near and far, told by African, Latin American and Asian students, as well as by Winternachten Festival guests Salena Godden (UK) and Piotr Ibrahim Kalwas (Poland). Do you have a story that fits the bill? Come down to the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague and get registered. English spoken.
Saturday 21 January 2017, ISS, 14:00-15:15

Winternachten Festival welcomes as its international guests:
• Colson Whitehead is one of the most ambitious, groundbreaking writers in the USA today. His novel The Underground Railway (National Book Award 2016) is an alternative history of slavery in America and also a constrained yet furious allegory of the black struggle.

• Dorit Rabinyan writes - next to highly succesful novels - also poetry and children's books and works as television host and script writer. Her recently published, awarded and controversial novel Border Life portrays a relationship between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man.

• Mikhail Shishkin, prominent, awarded Russian writer and journalist of among others Unfinished Love Letters is a refined stylist who combines Russian and European literary traditions in his fictional work. His works has been translated into more then thirty languages.

• Mircea Cărtărescu, seen as most prominent contemporary Romanian author, is well-known for his partly autobiographical Orbitor novel trilogy in which he deeply delves into the history, reality and magic of his country.

• Ian Buruma, British-Dutch writer japanologist and essayist who regularly publishes in the New York Times, Guardian and NRC Handelsblad. His Their Promised Land: My Grandparents in Love and War was published in Spring 2016.

• Olga Grjsnowa, born in Azerbaijan, emigrated at twelve years of age with her family to Germany. Her highly succesful debut novel All Russian Love Birch Trees was awarded several times.

• Rodrigo Hasbún, Bolivian writer, currently living in the USA - of two novels and two short stories that both were adapted into screen plays. Jonathan Safran Foer: "He is not a good writer. He is a great one." His second novel Affections was published in August 2016.

• Michel Faber, born in The Hague, famous Australian bestseller writer of the monumental novels The Crimon Petal and the White, The Book of Wonderful New Things and Under the Skin, adapted for the big screen.

• Tomás Sedláček, prominent economist, thinker, university teacher and strategist of the Czech bank CSOB who reached world fame with his international bestseller Economics of Good and Evil.

• 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, filmmaker and writer who fled Iraq and now lives in Finland; his recent The Corpse Exhibition, an intense novel full of violence, dreams and humour about a country at war already received a lot of praise. 'Perhaps one of the best Arabian writers today' (The Guardian).

• Piotr Ibrahim Kalwas, Polish writer and journalist who published regularly about Egypt, among others Egipt, haram halal (2015).

published on: Thursday 15 December 2016