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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 novels about his great passion of running, about travels and about migrants' cultural identity (Bad Boy). Benali hosted several book programmes on TV and also writes for the stage, as well as articles and reviews.

(WN 2019)

Archive available for: Abdelkader Benali

  • De weekendmiljonair

    The Weekend Millionaire

    With: Abdelkader Benali, Hassnae Bouazza, Siham Amghar

    Writer Abdelkader Benali was a guest at Writers Unlimited on Friday 18 October. He talked to Hassnae Bouazza about his new book The Weekend Millionaire, a funny and moving novel about the relationship between father and son. Benali talked about his roots, dreams of returning to the Atlas and integration into the Netherlands in the 1980s. With poetry by Siham Amghar, rising star in the spoken word scene. She recited this evening from her work and explored the boundaries of existing traditions. Interview: Hassnae Bouazza

    Event curated by Ilonka Reintjens (Writers Unlimited)
    Books for sale courtesy of De Vries Van Stockum Books

  • Opening Week van de Afrikaanse Roman

    Opening Week van de Afrikaanse Roman

    With: Abdelkader Benali, Deniel Barry, Eben Venter, Frazer Barry, Karin Brynard, Pieter Odendaal, Riana Scheepers, Valda Jansen

    Writers Unlimited opened Friday 20 September the fourth Week van de Afrikaanse roman (Week of the Afrikaans novel) with a festive evening about contemporary Afrikaans literature, language, arts and music. In Studio B of the Centrale Bibliotheek in The Hague we welcomed our audience to conversations with and performances by no less then seven authors and musicians from South Africa. Writer Abdelkader Benali spoke with them to cast light on several aspects of the Afrikaans literature.

    With musicians Frazer en Deniel Barry (Tribal Echo, Krotoa), journalist and writer of literary thrillers Karin Brynard (Plaasmoord, Onse vaders), poet and translator Pieter Odendaal (Asof geen berge ooit hier gewoon het nie), authors Eben Venter (Foxtrot van die vleiseters, Ek stamel, ek sterwe) and Riana Scheepers (Stormkind), and journalist, poet and writer Valda Jansen (Monitor, Hy kom met die skoenlappers)! Multi-language programme: English, Afrikaans and Dutch.

    This programme was curated by Writers Unlimited in collaboration with the Week of the Afrikaans novel. The Week's fourth edition took place from Friday 20 up to and including Sunday 29 September 2019 in The Netherlands and Flanders, promoting Afrikaans literature in Dutch translation. Find the full programme on the website of the Week van de Afrikaanse roman.

    Venue: Centrale Bibliotheek - Studio B, Spui 68 Den Haag.
    On site books sale by De Vries Van Stockum Boekverkopers.

  • Dick Swaab en Alicja Gescinska

    Dick Swaab and Alicia Gescinska: Music, the Brain and our Hearts

    With: Abdelkader Benali, Alicja Gescinska, Dick Swaab

    Wat is de invloed van kunst, dansen en muziek op ons brein? Is muzikale creativiteit een gave of een neurologisch proces? Dick Swaab, de beroemdste neurobioloog van Nederland, geeft inzicht in de interactie van de hersenen met onze omgeving. Hij ging bij ons in gesprek met de Belgische filosoof en schrijver Alicja Gescinska. In oktober 2018 verscheen haar boek Thuis in muziek: Een oefening in menselijkheid, een filosofisch essay over de belangrijke rol die muziek kan spelen in onze morele en persoonlijke ontwikkeling. Gespreksleider: Abdelkader Benali.

    Programma samengesteld door Ilonka Reintjens (Writers Unlimited)
    Boekverkoop in de zaal door De Vries Van Stockum Boeken

  • Winternachten 2019

    VPRO O.V.T. Live

    With: Abdelkader Benali, Asis Aynan, Conny Braam, David Van Reybrouck, Ellen de Bruin, HemelBesem, Jos Palm, Nelleke Noordervliet, Paul van der Gaag, Wim Berkelaar

    THIS PROGRAMME WAS SOLD OUT - Every Sunday morning, the topicality of history is the focus of one of the most popular radio programs in the Netherlands. Sunday morning 20 January 2019 OVT was broadcast, as usual, live from Winternachten festival in Theater aan het Spui.

    Guests included writers from the Winternachten Festival, such as Nelleke Noordervliet, the Flemish culture historian David Van Reybrouck, and writers Ellen de Bruin and Asis Aynan. Writer Abdelkader Benali read his column and Wim Berkelaar reviewed newly published history books. Conny Braam discussed the book she wrote on the 19th century Namibian freedom-fighter Hendrik Witbooi. A decendent of Hendrik is the African writer and spoken word artist HemelBesem, who performed in the programme as well. Hosts: Paul van der Gaag and Jos Palm. Program in Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2019 – Saturday Night Unlimited

    Book of My Life: Mohammad Rabie

    Writers told us about their favourite book: the book that inspires or touches them, that set their artistic, moral or intellectual compass. In short, the book they would recommend to everyone.

  • Winternachten 2019 – Friday Night Unlimited

    Eternal Texts

    Writers Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, and poet and translator Kawa Nemir choose literature, songs, speeches and sacred books with eternal value. They presented fragments and discussed their choices with Abdelkader Benali.
    In 2018, Nansubuga Makumbi published her debut novel Kintu, a Ugandan epic in which an 18th-century curse continues to haunt decendants into the present time. Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, internationally succesful with her debut novel One Night, Markovitch, builds up tension in Waking Lions, in which a surgeon is blackmailed to give medical aid to a group of illegal immigrants. Kawa Nemir translated many poems from English to Kurdish and from Kurdish to Turkish; in 2019 his translation into Kurdish of Ulysses by James Joyce will be published

  • Winternachten 2019 – Saturday Night Unlimited

    Book of My Life: Auke Hulst

    Writers told us about their favourite book: the book that inspires or touches them, that set their artistic, moral or intellectual compass. In short, the book they would recommend to everyone. Interview: Abdelkader Benali.

  • Winternachten 2019 – Saturday Night Unlimited

    Book of My Life: Mark O'Connell

    Writers tell us about their favourite book: the book that inspires or touches them, that set their artistic, moral or intellectual compass. In short, the book they would recommend to everyone. Interview: Abdelkader Benali.

  • Winternachten 2019 – Saturday Night Unlimited

    Book of My Life: Roberta Petzoldt

    Writers told us about their favourite book: the book that inspires or touches them, that set their artistic, moral or intellectual compass. In short, the book they would recommend to everyone.

  • Winternachten 2019 – Saturday Night Unlimited

    Book of My Life: Derek Otte

    Writers told us about their favourite book: the book that inspires or touches them, that set their artistic, moral or intellectual compass. In short, the book they would recommend to everyone.

  • Winternachten 2019 – Saturday Night Unlimited

    Book of My Life: HemelBesem

    Writers told us about their favourite book: the book that inspires or touches them, that set their artistic, moral or intellectual compass. In short, the book they would recommend to everyone.

  • De Methode Wilders

    The Wilders Method

    With: Abdelkader Benali, Karin Amatmoekrim, Simon(e) van Saarloos

    Philosopher Simone van Saarloos attended the trial against politician Geert Wilders, and developed a strong interest in het nationwide fascination for her person, attitude and method. For a long time she closely observed Wilders, his lawyers and the constantly attacked judges. In the book 'ENZ. - het Wildersproces' (ETC. - The Wilders Trial), through analysis and philosophy Van Saarloos tries to get to the bottom of what makes his followers admire him. Abdelkader Benali hosts the programme with Simone van Saarloos, Karin Amatmoekrim and other guests. The programme is Dutch spoken.

  • 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 Mc Leod, 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, Simon(e) 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.

  • Baas in eigen brein?

    Who reigns over my brain?

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

    Productiegegevens 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 2011 he opened 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 elaborated 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 talked to Parks after his lecture and put his views to David van Reybrouck, Maaza Mengiste and Elif Batuman.
    This was the first evening in the festival, and the official opening. Before the lecture by Tim Parks, writer Nelleke Noordervliet, chairperson of the festival board, gave 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 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 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 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.