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Abdelkader Benali

Abdelkader Benali - foto Barbara Kerkhof
Abdelkader Benali - foto Barbara Kerkhof

(Morocco, 1975) is a much-lauded writer. In 2010 he received the E. Du Perron Prize for De stem van mijn moeder (My Mother's Voice). The son of a butcher, Benali came to the Netherlands at age 4. His 1996 debut, Bruiloft aan zee (Wedding By the Sea), was an immediate success. His second novel, De langverwachte (The Long-awaited) won him the prestigious Libris Literature Award in 2003. Benali's subjects vary, but sports and the migrant who never really feels at home are recurring themes. He has written two novels about running, his great passion. De weg naar Kaapstad (The Road to Cape Town) was published in 2010, an account of his journey from Morocco to Cape Town. This was followed by Oost=West (East=West), travelogues from the Arab world, in 2011. His 2013 novel Bad Boy, about the Badr Hari affair, again highlights the migrant's dual cultural identity. Benali hosted several book programmes on TV and also writes for the stage, as well as articles and reviews.


Archive available for: Abdelkader Benali

  • Winternachten 2016

    Help, It's My Debut! Literary Brunch with CLEEFT

    With: Abdelkader Benali, Bregje Hofstede, Ferdinand Lankamp, Gerson Main, Lize Spit, Peter Nijssen

    An informal literary brunch in the cozy foyer of Theatre aan het Spui, at the heart of the festival. This event is a collaboration with CLEEFT, a community of fans of film, books, exhibitions, concerts, performances, and culinary events.

    What happens to you when your first book is published? When suddenly it's in the shops, your name is in the paper and on TV, and radio and talk shows clamour to have you on as a guest? It's a great achievement, of course, but making your debut can also be difficult. Maybe there are reviews critical of your "baby." Or, worse, no one takes any notice of your book at all. This program features writers who are popular with CLEEFT's readers. Bregje Hofstede made her debut in 2014 with De hemel boven Parijs (The Sky Over Paris). Right after the event, Lize Spit will attend the launch of her first book, Het Smelt (It's Melting). Long-time publisher Peter Nijssen of De Arbeiderspers talks about how it used to be for rookies versus how it is today. He lays out the dos and don'ts for emerging writers. In the field of music, too, you can get swept up in a wave of publicity, as happened to Gerson Main, singer with the famous fur hat, who made the finals of the show Best Singer-songwriter of the Netherlands. This event is hosted by CLEEFT critic Ferdinand Lankamp and writer Abdelkader Benali, who had a dream debut in 1996 with Bruiloft aan zee (Wedding by the Sea).

  • Winternachten 2016 – Friday Night Unlimited

    Debate: Is Man Behind all the World's Evil?

    A debate in which Kristien Hemmerechts and Abdelkader Benali (who takes the place of Jamal Ouariachi, who is ill) use their humour and incisiveness to defend opposite views on the question, "Is man behind all the world's evil? (and behind him, woman?)" In other words: Is testosterone the source of all evil? The participants wield their best arguments from real life and literature! At the end, referee Maud Vanhauwaert and the audience choose the winner.

  • Winternachten 2015

    World Stories at Theater Dakota

    With: Abdelkader Benali, Anton Goudsmit, Cynthia McLeod, Francis Broekhuijsen

    There's nothing better than telling one another stories. Stories from near and far, by Hague Highschool students, by participants in the Dakota Theatre's story contest, by the public, and by writers. "At Home" is this year's theme.

    Students of the Hague Highschool write stories under the guidance of drama teacher Martine Zeeman. Two writer guests of the festival also participate: Cynthia McLeod of Suriname, and Abdelkader Benali. Guitarist Anton Goudsmit provides music. Do you have a five-minute story that fits the bill? You don't even need to write it down, just tell it. You can register at the Dakota Theatre. Join us! In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2015


    With: Abdelkader Benali, Simone van Saarloos

    The varied Friday night programme on 16 January (together with the Saturday night programme) forms the heart of the festival, with dozens of events on five stages.

    Writers, poets and audience members come together for various programmes in a festive and informal atmosphere. The authors present work commissioned by the festival, read from their books, or discuss current issues.

    There are programmes in English and in Dutch, making a "Language No Problem" enjoyment of the evening possible. You can see the programma schedule below, or download the pdf of the 'Language no Problem' route here.

    English writer Karen Armstrong, known for her many books about world religions, delivers the opening lecture. Other guests include Muhammad Aladdin (Egypt), Abdelkader Benali, Cristina Branco (singing Remco Campert poems), Leela Corman (US), Jennifer Clement (US/Mexico), Maxim Februari, David Grossman (Israel), Cynthia McLeod (Suriname), Maaza Mengiste (US/Ethiopia), Dinar Rahayu (Indonesia), David Van Reybrouck (Belgium),Paul Scheffer, Mustafa Stitou, Niña Weijers, Tao Yue (NL/China), and many others. One ticket allows access to all events.

    Programme is subject to change.

  • Winternachten 2015 – FRIDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    Fit In or Buzz Off

    Nuweira Youskine dons verbal boxing gloves and takes on Adriaan van Dis. Shall we drink tea together or beat each other up? Multiculturalism has failed! Fit in or buzz off! No, say the idealists, let's drink tea. It's all our own fault, now we must make the best of it! Build bridges! It won't work, say the segregationists. Back to the home country, or to another place where we can be amongst ourselves. Fit in or buzz off? Referee Abdelkader Benali is strict and maybe even fair. In Dutch.

  • Science Series

    Who reigns over my brain?

    With: Abdelkader Benali, Andries van der Leij, Katinka Baehr, Simon van Gaal

    The first in a series of science debates: Science Unlimited The Series. In this programme three distinguished guests talk about free will. Does it exist or not? Kathinka Baehr (VPRO) leads the conversation between neuro psychologist Simon van Gaal, neuro-marketing researcher Andries van der Leij and writer Abdelkader Benali.
    The programme is in Dutch, and made by Writers Unlimited (Ger Wieberdink) and Bibliotheek Den Haag. Sponsored by the Municipality of The Hague.

  • Winternachten 2014 – FRIDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    A piece of elite to the people - a polemic

    Gone seem the times of literary fireworks between opponents who, with a feeling for language and humor, sought the boundaries of decency in their zeal to tirelessly cross verbal swords. Those good old times revive with a round of polemics between Abdelkader Benali and Saskia De Coster. Both of them fiercely plead for and against the return of the elite. Down with the dictatorship of the rabble, down with long live the people!

  • Winternachten 2011

    Winternachten Lecture - Tim Parks

    With: Abdelkader Benali, David Van Reybrouck, Elif Batuman, Epi, Maaza Mengiste, Nelleke Noordervliet, Tim Parks

    'I have a problem with the growing internationalisation of literature,' the British writer Tim Parks recently argued in an interview with Bas Heijne in NRC Handelsblad. On Thursday 20 January he will open the Winternachten Festival. 

    'Writers don't aim at local situations and local issues, because an international audience isn't interested in them. That makes the literature change.' And that's what worries Parks. He fears that literature will deteriorate into an impersonal message for a readership of merely outsiders. 'When you read those kinds of books you don't have the feeling of looking in on someone else, of ending up in another culture. That makes a lot of literature superficial and untruthful.'

    In his Winternachten Lecture Tim Parks will elaborate on his disquieting observation. Because many questions remain to be answered. What choice do writers have? Do they have to restrict themselves to the same patterns? Are cultures still so isolated that this is the result? And what about writers who have become estranged and left behind their native soil and culture?
    Abdelkader Benali will talk to Parks after his lecture and put his views to David van Reybrouck, Maaza Mengiste and Elif Batuman.
    This is the first evening in the festival, and the official opening. Before the lecture by Tim Parks, writer Nelleke Noordervliet, chairperson of the festival board, will give the opening speech
    In English.

  • Winternachten 2011 – Winternacht 2

    The Writer and his Body

    Books are brainchildren. Few writers will argue with that. Until such time when the body no longer agrees with this division of labour and starts making havoc. This happened to the British writer Tim Parks. Physical problems forced him to a self-analysis on the relationship between body and mind. He wrote a book about this all-embracing experience Teach Us to Sit Still. He will talk to Wim Brands and Gerbrand Bakker, writer of June, The Detour and the award-winning The Twin, who recently wrote on his weblog: "A good friend had sculpted a bronze statuette and gave it to me as a present. It is a statuette of a writer working in a somewhat awkward pose. "Yes", I said, "I'd love to have it". Because I thought it was beautiful, but also because metaphorically I thought it said something about the way I write, or who I am in general terms. A conversation about writing and physical discomfort. In English.

  • Winternachten 2008

    How to Bluff your Way into Arabic Literature

    With: Abdelkader Benali, Ahmed Alaidy, Ashur Etwebi, Habib Selmi, Hassan Daoud, Khaled Khalifa, Laila Aboezaid, Lamis Saidi, Osama Abdulrasol, Sarah Meuleman, Tamim al-Barghouti

    Ask any Dutchman what s/he knows about Arabic literature and chances are that s/he will come up with Arabian Nights. Is that all? Only the famous stories of Sjahrazaad and Sjahriar? Inform yourself in this special Winternachten afternoon focusing on Arabic literature.

    Eight Arab writers read from their own work and read their favourite fragment from Arabic literature. The authors come from the Maghreb and Mashreq, our opposite neighbours on the southside of the Mediterranean. The writers are Laila Abuzaid (Morocco), Habib Selmi (Tunesia), Lamis Saidi (Algeria), Tamim al-Barghouti (Palestine), Ahmad al-Aidi (Egypt), Ashur Etwebi (Libya), Hassan Daoud (Lebanon) and Khaled Khalifa (Syria). Poetry and prose, tradition and experiment, new an age old work passing in revue. Writer Abdelkader Benali and journalist Sarah Meuleman lead this afternoon full of literary discoveries. Members of the audience - critics, publishers, book sllers and experts - respond to the readings and to quastions by the hosts. Iraqi qanun and ud player Osama Abdulrasol gives thew afternoon a musical colour. Finally, get some free advice from master Ra'oef Moes'ad Basta, who offers you the Arab equivalent of your favourite western author. One hint beforehand: "Do you want to read the Arab Reve? Then opt for Sunallah Ibrahim."

    The programme is in English. English and Dutch translations of the Arabic literary texts are projected simultaneously.

  • Winternachten 2007 – WINTERNACHT 1

    The great crossing

    From Tanger to Europe go the harragas. They risk their lives in rickety boats, expecting the fulfilment of their dangerous desires at the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar. Moroccan immigrants, driven by misfortune to the most desperate acts, are the main characters in the novel Hope and Other Dangerous Desires by Laila Lalami. Writer Abdelkader Benali talked with this Moroccan writer from the United States. Lalami is well-known too for her blog, and for a sharp critique of Ayaan Hirsi Ali that appeared in The Nation magazine. English spoken.

  • Winternachten 2007 – WINTERNACHT 1

    Berber poetry - the advance of the Tamazight

    The way Fadma El Ouariachi reads is impressive. This poet from the Rif mountains writes poems in Tamazight, the language of the Berbers of North Africa. Young Dutch poet Khadija al Mourabit writes poets in this language. They performed together with Abdelkader Benali. He read poems from his recently published anthology Panacee. Specially for Winternachten he translated some of his poems into Tamazight. They spoke about the significance of the use of the Berber language in their work. In Morocco the language was kept out of public life for centuries, but recently is receives government support. Dutch translations.

  • Winternachten 2006

    Reading Club Live

    With: Abdelkader Benali, Bas Heijne, Elsbeth Etty, Pieter Steinz

    The NRC Handelsblad Reading Club performs live at Winternachten. Four employees and editors of this paper, Abdelkader Benali, Elsbeth Etty, Bas Heijne and Pieter Steinz (panel chairman) discuss Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the clown . Each one of them gives a short introduction and throws some light on certain aspects of this novel, after which there will be plenty of opportunity for discussion with the audience.

    Shalimar the clown is a breathtaking story that stretches from Cashmere to California, and from the second world war to the beginning of modern day Islamic terrorism. It's about an ambitious village beauty from Cashmere, who drives her childhood sweetheart into becoming a professional terrorist. As in all his novels Salman Rushdie interweaves the personal history of his main characters with world history and by doing so creates not only a deep insight into human motivation, but also into the important questions of our time. These contents provide enough matter for lively discussions. Bring along pen and paper and the novel (read)! Also look out for the readers offer in the NRC Handelsblad. Dutch spoken.

  • Winternachten 2006 – WINTERNACHT 1

    Mr Blokker, how do you do that?

    'There is not one square meter of Dutch earth that does not have an education centre, a youth club, a cultural centre, or a shelter with a staff led by somebody called Dick, John or Arnold, wearing a beard and talking the whole day about communication patterns and tolerance limits'. There are very few columnists in the Netherlands that are able to pinpoint the Dutch character and give a twist to events so well as columnist Jan Blokker. How does he do that? Writer Abdelkader Benali questions him thoroughly on this. Dutch spoken.

  • Winternachten 2004 – WINTERNACHT 2

    Van Dis in Optima Forma

    Adriaan van Dis loves languages that 'make love to one another'. He calls it Loving Language. Recently he put together a whole edition of the literary magazine Optima about this very subject. He asked amongst others Abdelkader Benali, Michiel van Kempen, Ellen Ombre and Henk van Woerden to write an article about how for them - as van Dis puts it - 'ribs from one language intertwine with those of another language'. Once more van Dis allows during this conversation languages to make love to one another.

  • Winternachten 2003 – Winternacht 1

    Abdelkader Benali presents the winner of a school poetry competition

    In collaboration with the School for Poetry, Winternachten organizes a writing competition for two secondary schools in The Hague. A special schoolprogramme and a presentation in Theater aan het Spui will lead to a hundred pupils writing poetry on the theme 'Image of Holland'. Tonight one of the two winners presents his or her poem, and is introduced by writer Abdelkader Benali, member of the jury.

  • Winternachten 2003 – Winternacht 1

    Sermonizing: Abdelkader Benali

    'How many wrong Dutch do we have? People with the wrong visions, wrong bank accounts, wrong holiday trips to Thailand? 'They all live in Holland, nobody asks them to leave', declared writer Abdelkader Benali when he was asked about the thin varnish that we call civilization. Tonight he sermonizes for the Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2000 – Winternacht 2

    Poetry in performance, stand-up comedy and storytelling

    South African stand-up comedian Soli Philander was master of ceremonies in a programme in the theatre foyer with performing poets and storytellers. With Louise Wondel (Surinamese poet/performer, writing in Aukan, the language of the Marrons) and De jonge Marokkanen (The Young Moroccans), as writers Abdelkader Benali, Rashid Novaire and Khalid Boudou called themselves. The Algerian/Dutch actor/storyteller Hakim Traïdia told Arabic stories.