(Nijmegen, NL, 1960) writes essays, short stories and plays, and is a columnist with the daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad. He published the novels Laatste woorden (Last words) and Suez and received the Henriëtte Roland Holst Prize in 2005. In 2011's Moeten wij van elkaar houden, het populisme ontleed (Do We Have to Love One Another? Populism Dissected) Heijne shows how globalisation and individualism pave the way for populism. Angst en schoonheid (Fear and Beauty) was published in 2013, an essay about Dutch writer Louis Couperus, whom Heijne admires. In the same year his documentary about Couperus was broadcast. In 2015 he hosted the five-part documentary De volmaakte mens (The Perfect Human). In 2016 his essay Onbehagen nieuw licht op de beschaafde mens (Discontent - new light on civilized man) was published. In 2017 Heijne received the P.C. Hooft Award for his essayistic works.(2017)
Archive available for: Bas Heijne
When we asked Bas Heijne to choose a classic to discuss during Writers Unlimited 2018 at the NRC Reader's Club, he asked for a few weeks' time to think it over. There are so many worthy books to (re)read and discuss! He finally settled on Gustave Flaubert's world-famous psychological novel, Madame Bovary.
The novel, which Flaubert wrote in 56 months, was originally published in serial form in 1856. It became an enormous success the following year, partly because Flaubert, his publisher and the printer were accused of "offending public and religious morality and good taste" in a lawsuit that was the talk of the town. With the help of his connections in high society, Flaubert was ultimately acquitted of "vulgar realism and a shocking description of characters".
The meticulous depiction of his protagonist Emma Bovary, of her affairs and of her desire for a larger life continue to inspire not only writers, playwrights, scriptwriters and graphic novelists but also new readers. The novel is available in Dutch, translated by Hans van Pinxteren and published by LJ Veen Klassiek.
Michel Krielaars, editor of the NRC newspaper's books section, introduced Heijne's discussion of Madame Bovary.
Right after the performance, Bas Heijne was at Van Stockum Bookshop in the foyer for a booksigning session.
The longing for a strong collective feeling has once again become a source of social movements around the world. That "we"-feeling feeds passionate new emancipation and indentity groups. It also causes social fragmentation and conflict.
Brotherhood, the third pillar of democracy from the French Revolution, has long been viewed as a less inflammatory societal value compared with Freedom and Equality. But the comeback of a strong collective feeling is connected to high levels of polarization and conflict in society.
Bas Heijne, winner of the P.C. Hooft Prize for his essays and a prominent NRC newspaper columnist, investigated why the power of a longing for Brotherhood is underestimated, with the help of Flemish cultural historian and writer David Van Reybrouck, Turkish poet and philosopher Efe Murad, German novelist Fatma Aydemir and Polish novelist and journalist Grazyna Plebanek. Together they looked for the contemporary words to express a sense of collective bonding.
The conversations were accompanied by performances of poetry slam-talent Sanam Sheriff (India), by live drawn illustrations by Gerda Dendooven (Belgium) and by music performed by classical accordionist Oleg Lysenko (Netherlands) and soprano Elisabeth Sturtewagen (Belgium).
NO TICKETS LEFT - Every Sunday morning, the relevance of history is the focus of one of the most popular radio programs in the Netherlands. This edition of OVT will be broadcast live from the festival's cozy Wintercafé in the Theater aan het Spui. Come watch and listen!
Writers from the Winternachten Festival will join this programme for interviews: Ian Buruma, Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, Bas Heijne, Karin Amatmoekrim and Arnon Grunberg. Writer Nelleke Noordervliet will read her column. Bart Funnekotter presents the book reviews this week. With live music by trumpet player Eric Vloeimans. Programme in Dutch.
Bas Heijne talks about his favourite book - the book that inspires or moves him; the book that formed his moral or intellectual compass; the book that he would recommend to anyone. Interviewer: Hassnae Bouazza. In Dutch
Dutch-Estonian writer Sana Valiulina, the Turkish writer and journalist Ece Temelkuran and and famous Russian novelist Mikhail Shishkin discuss the backgrounds of the current turbulent period in Turkey and Russia. How far back in history must we go to understand contemporary Turkey and Russia? Which collective trauma's, frustrations and sentiments are at the roots of recent developments? Hosted by Dutch essayist and P.C.Hooft Award 2017 winner Bas Heijne. English spoken.
Since the failed coup of Summer 2016, Turkey goes through a grim period. Not only the military but also dissidents are persecuted. Many journalists are refrained from working, many scientists and intellectuals are not allowed to travel abroad. But the trend of intimidating the intelligentsia dates back before the coup. In 2015, writer and Nobel Prize for Literature winner Orhan Pamuk already warned in The Guardian that fear gets the upperhand in Turkey: "I notice that everybody is afraid...the freedom of speech has sunk deeply."
Things are not much better in Russia. Mikhail Shishkin wrote about how Russian media under the Putin regime have changed into weapons of mass destruction aimed at convincing the population that Russia is again at war with the West. Within this rethoric of war, each form of criticism is a sign of treason. This legitimizes oppression of dissidents.
Ece Temelkuran is a Turkish journalist and political commentator, and author of Turkey: The Insane and the Melancholy.
Dutch-Estonian Sana Valiulina tells in her Children of Brezjnev (2014) what the Soviet system has demolished regarding civilisation and how moral decline gained momentum during the post-soviet era.
The unexpected election of businessman Donald Trump as president of the United States will be signed and sealed in Washington this Friday, 20 January. The choice of Trump is seen primarily as a protest by citizens against the established political elite, and a sign of broad discontent among the American public. Is the USA our role model - will voters stand up against the political establishment here as well? In Europe in 2017, significant elections will take place in the Netherlands, France and Germany; the Dutch will be first to go to the ballot box on 15 March to elect their members of parliament. Should we expect a surprise?
In This is Not America, writers and journalists will compare the USA and the Netherlands under the knowledgeable direction of Stephan Sanders. Margriet Oostveen wrote a column for NRC Handelsblad from the US about daily life there; currently she does the same for the Volkskrant about the Dutch from the Netherlands. Bas Heijne offers a broader cultural context for the general discontent; Ian Buruma, a citizen of and expert on both countries, makes comparisons; and Arnon Grunberg reflects on what he hears and sees in the streets of New York and The Hague. Jeanine Valeriano and her Spoken Beat Night finish up the evening with a sparkling performance.
If you really want to achieve something, you can or so we desperately want tobelieve. Every human deed starts with a desire and faith in one's own abilities. People want to change the world, but can they do so? Or do they underestimate the powers that thwart their intentions? Can people change the world or does the world change people? In his latest book, The Soul of the Marionette, British author and philosopher John Gray examines this question using examples from political and religious practice, philosophy and literature. 'Gray really makes you think most welcome', according to the Dutchnewspaper NRC Handelsblad.
John Gray (1948) is Emeritus Professor of European Thought and one of the G8 the eight greatest political philosophers of our time. He has published in The Guardian, New Statesman and The Times Literary Supplement, and has written a number of influential books including Straw Dogs, Al Qaeda and What it Means to be Modern, Heresies, False Dawn, Black Mass, Gray's Anatomy, The Immortalization Commission and The Silence of Animals.
Bas Heijne (1960) is an author, thinker, translator and interviewer. He is an essayist and writes a weekly column for NRC Handelsblad. He has published a number of books. Heijne recently received the J. Greshoff Award for the best essay for his Angst en schoonheid (fear and beauty). Like John Gray, he loves to ponder the major questions of our day.
This evening is organised by Writers Unlimited in cooperation with The Hague PublicLibrary and mbo|Anthos publishers. Language: English
With: Aad Meinderts, Bart Moeyaert, Bas Heijne, Calliope Tsoupaki, Cristina Branco, De Règâhs, Dimitri Verhulst, Francis Broekhuijsen, Ivo van Hove, Jan van Mersbergen, Joris Wijsmuller, Kees 't Hart, Luc Coorevits - Behoud de Begeerte, Lucky Fonz III, Maarten 't Hart, Maria Barnas, Mensje van Keulen, Piet Gerbrandy
Francis Broekhuijsen hosts the festival's concluding celebration: the Writers' Fest, a varied programme centred around Dutch literature.
Poet Maria Barnas begins the afternoon with an ode to poetry. Writer and critic Kees' t Hart introduces the programme with his views on the state of Dutch literature, a speech about the literary highlights of 2014. Writer Bart Moeyaert, artistic manager of special guests Flanders and the Netherlands at the 2016 Frankfurt Book Fair, presents his plans to promote our literature in the global context. Fado singer Cristina Branco sings songs composed specially for the occasion, based on poetry by Remco Campert and others.
The core of the programme is the presentation of the Jan Campert prizes, the City of The Hague's prestigious literary awards, with inspired lectures by admirers of the laureates. For his poetry collection Vlinderslag (Stroke of the Butterfly), Piet Gerbrandy will receive the Jan Campert Prize and a tribute by composer Calliope Tsoupaki. Jan van Mersbergen, who will receive the Ferdinand Bordewijk Prize for his novel De laatste ontsnapping (The Last Escape), will be serenaded by singer-songwriter Lucky Fonz. Bas Heijne will receive the J. Greshoff Prize for Angst en schoonheid. Louis Couperus, de mystiek der zichtbare dingen (Fear and Beauty: Louis Couperus and the mysticism of tangible things). He will be addressed by Ivo van Hove, director of the Amsterdam Theatre, which will stage the work of Couperus in 2015. Writer Dimitri Verhulst will honour Luc Coorevits, the passionate founder of the Flemish literary organization Behoud de Begeerte, which won the G.H. 's-Gravensande Prize for exceptional literary achievement. The evening's crowning glory is the Constantijn Huygens Prize for a body of work. This will be awareded to Mensje van Keulen for her novels, stories, and poems. Fellow writer and contemporary Maarten 't Hart will sing her praises, as will De Règâhs.
Presented in collaboration with the Dutch Foundation for Literature and the Jan Campert Foundation.
One of the most popular programmes on Radio 1 is VPRO's OVT (Simple Past Tense). Every Sunday the contemporary relevance of history takes centre stage.
It has become a tradition for OVT's radio professionals to relocate to The Hague during the festival in order to broadcast live from the cozy lobby of Theater aan het Spui. The public is most welcome; admission and coffee are free. The programme includes a spoken commentary by Nelleke Noordervliet, an interview with Bas Heijne on Couperus, and a focus on writer Reggie Baay and his just-published book Daar werd wat gruwelijks verricht (Something Terrible Happened There), about the hidden history of slavery in the Dutch East Indies. With live music by the The Hague band De Règâhs. Don't forget to reserve your spot via the blue link above. Programme in Dutch.
An honoured festival tradition: the NRC Reading Club Live. The panel, made up of editors Elsbeth Etty, Bas Heijne and writer Gustaaf Peek, discusses Adriaan van Dis' novel Familieziek (Repatriated). The NRC Handelsblad newspaper's book-section head Michel Krielaars moderates. As reader of the book, you too can add your two cents to the discussion!
A boy is prepared for the future under the threat of the Cold War. He must learn to get by in an evil world. The bomb is also ticking at home... his father and educator, Mr Java, is a war-damaged man who increasingly draws his son into his delusional world. The son is a silent witness, seeing everything and forgetting nothing. Madness sweeps through the house and his mother and sisters form a skeptical chorus commenting on events. Familieziek (Repatriated) is a moving novel about a boy who breaks free of his parents' grip and yet cannot escape the curse of their past.
Afterwards you can attend the programme in which Hans Goedkoop talks to Adriaan van Dis about his new novel Ik kom terug (I'm Coming Back, 2014).
This is our way, and that is their way... How do you deal with one another in an environment where so many cultures live side by side? What language do you speak? What do you do on one another's holidays? In the Netherlands we can't quite figure it out. Tonight three writerstwo of them from countries with long histories of multiculturalismprovide ideas for dos and don'ts. No laws, just manners. The public will discuss these ideas. Do we adopt them or not? In Dutch.
Conflicts over religion are more topical than ever, but religion is as old as the hills. Throughout the ages, people have established temples, churches, and mosques to honour their god(s). Where does the deep-seated need to believe in something come from? Why do people go so far as to wage war in the name of religion? What is religion, anyway? What is the function of faith for humankind? Since her debut, Through the Narrow Gate, in which she described her experiences as a lapsed nun, Karen Armstrong has developed into an expert on Christianity, Judaism and Islam. In her latest book, The Fields of Blood, she investigates the sometimes bloody, sometimes peaceful history of these religions. In English.
In the Filmhuis Studio the festival's guest writers present their favourite literary texts and explain why a particular poem, novel excerpt, or song lyric influenced their life and work. Which memory, what feeling does this text call up for them? A continuous interview programme, in which the audience also talks with the writers. Hosted by Wim Brands and Fidan Ekiz. In Dutch.
Essayist and NRC Handelsblad columnist Bas Heijne talks to Argentine writer Andrés Neuman, author of Traveller of the Century, one of the most important Latin American writers of the new generation.
Early 2014 Neuman's latest novel Hablar solos (Talking to Ourselves) will be published in a Dutch translation. A raw, but at the same time tender novel about sex and death, an intense homage to all those who had to nurse a loved-one. Bas Heijne talks to the writer about grief and the comfort of words.
"Neuman is not only a sparkling acquisition for Latin American literature, but for European literature too." (Volkskrant)
"The literature of the 21st century belongs to Neuman and a few of his blood brothers." (Roberto Bolaño, author of 2666)
A valued tradition of the festival: the NRC Reading Club Live. Visitors read a book and give their opinion. But first we give the floor to the panel, consisting of Elsbeth Etty, Bas Heijne and guest editor Sana Valiulina, and hosted by Michel Krielaars, head of the book pages of NRC Handelsblad. This time we read The Red Cavalry from the collected stories by Isaak Babel.
Isaak Babel (1894-1940) has many admirers, also in the Netherlands, from writers Tommy Wieringa to Arnon Grunberg, from book critics Arjan Peters (Volkskrant) to Michel Krielaars (NRC Handelsblad). His Red Cavalry Stories are among the master pieces in Russian literature. The stories were recently published anew in an elegant new translation, in a hardback edition by Van Oorschot Publishers.
In the Red Cavalry Stories Isaak Babel wrote about his experiences during the Polish-Russian war, to which he was sent by his literary mentor Gorki 'to discover real life'. The stories are full of blood and random killings, told in a down-to-earth style, and that's what makes them so penetrating.
Isaak Babel supported the Bolshevist revolution but he couldn't and didn't want to close his eyes for its sometimes gruesome consequences and that's exactly what he wrote about. That's why the police and the censors were after him all the time. He was arrested in 1939 and sentenced to death and executed on Stalin's orders.
"You get into a trance by Isaak Babel's incredible style." (Arjan Peters, Volkskrant)
"All in all Babel is the artist convincing the reader of a completely new vision of the world." (New York Review of Books)
Don't forget to read the book, and bring it with you!
The reading club discusses The Leopard (Il Gattopardo, 1958) by Guiseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. In 2012 a reprint appeared of the much acclaimed translation by Anthonie Kee. Reason enough to (re)read this historical novel - set in 19th century Cicily, where the citizenry, under the leadership of Garibaldi, takes over from the nobility. Michel Krielaars, editor of the book pages of NRC Handelsblad hosts and there is a panel discussion with NRC editors Elsbeth Etty and Bas Heijne and guest Marjolijn van Heemstra, who based her book De laatste Aedema (The Last Aedema) on her own noble family. In Dutch.
Dutch critic and essay-writer Bas Heijne reads a fragment from the Dutch novel De Stille Kracht by Louis Couperus. Want to know why this text means so much to him? Come to the Greenhouse, and talk to him and hosts Manon Uphoff and Aleid Truijens about his choice. In Dutch.
Dutch newspaper NRC-Handelsblad columnist Bas Heijne writes essays, short stories and plays. And he is a film buff. He chose a number of striking film fragments on the theme 'imagination and creativity in the age of the media'. Film expert and journalist Bert Jansma interviews Heijne about his choice. In Dutch.
Amos Oz, one of Israel's greatest writers, situates his new novel Between Friends in a kibbutz, the dream of the collective. In his book Tikkop Adriaan van Dis looks back on the ideals of the ANC, which fought for a better society in South Africa. A conversation between two inspired writers on the ideals of of yesterday, hosted by Bas Heijne. In English.
The debate on the role of the citizen in democracy is in the spotlights. But is the ordinary citizen waiting for such a king's role? Wouldn't he rather fulfil the role of consumer and doesn't he think that going to the ballot poll once every four years is quite enough? Isn't the call for more citizen participation first and foremost a flickering of a small elitist flame? Five writers in search of the answer. Nelleke Noordervliet opens with a column, diving into the history of Dutch democracy. In Dutch.
In this edition of Writers Unlimited The Series, essayist en columnist Bas Heijne will talk to novelist David Grossman. Recently Grossman's latest novel Falling Out of Time about the grief of parents who have lost a child, has been published in Dutch and English. ActorHugo Maerten will read excerpts from this novel.
David Grossman (Jerusalem, 1954) is one of Israel's most celebrated authors. His work includes novels, essays, children's books and a stage play, and has been translated into twenty-five languages. Among the countless awards he received was the prestigious Peace Prize of the German booksellers association, presented to him in 2010.
The interview will be conducted in English, the readings are in Dutch.
A tradition at the Writers Unlimited festival. This time the Reading Club tackles F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. A classic novel in which the American Dream and other possible dreams occupy the minds of those in it. Pieter Steinz, Elsbeth Etty, Bas Heijne and Gustaaf Peek discuss the novel with each other and with readers. The Great Gatsby (1925) is invariably mentioned the most important candidate for the title Great American Novel. Deservedly, because the story of the nouveau riche Jay Gatsby, who cannot seem to escape his (shadowy) past, is more than just a clever version of the pursuit of the American Dream. It is also the account of an unequal friendship (between Gatsby and his neighbour on Long Island, the hopelessly naïve first person narrator Nick Carraway), as well as a Shakespearean tragedy about envy and broken illusions. Right now director Baz Luhrman (Moulin Rouge) is filming The Great Gatsby, with Leonardo Di Caprio in the role of Jay Gatsby. NRC editors Elsbeth Etty, Bas Heijne and Gustaaf Peek discuss with each other and with readers. Host: Pieter Steinz, editor of the NRC Handelsblad book pages. In Dutch.
Literature as a Way of Seeing
Nigerian journalist/writer Helon Habila opens the festival with a lecture about literature as the art of seeing. Those who witness injustice can look away or walk away. A real writer, argues Habila, can't, because the writer is fascinated by that image and haunted by it until he writes about it. How can literature sharpen our view and increase our empathy? How do fiction and truth relate to each other? In his new novel Oil on Water, Habila exposes the abuses surrounding oil drilling in Nigeria without wagging his finger. The novel won a lot of praise and has been compared to Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Soprano Pearlmira Vincent will sing an aria by Antonín Dvořák. Henk Pröpper, director of De Bezige Bij publishing house, and former director of the Dutch Foundation for Literature, will officially open the festival. After Habila's lecture Bas Heijne interviews the writer and chairs a discussion with Jan Brokken and Helon Habila. In English.
Mansoura Ez Eldin (Egypt), had to cancel her performance for family reasons.
Writer Bas Heijne and the British philosopher John Gray take a closer look at the secret of the success of populist parties, against the background of ongoing globalisation and the changing balance of power. Populist parties consider freedom of paramount importance. What do they mean when they talk about freedom? Why do they meet so much response and what do they have to offer that other parties, sticking to the ideals of the Enlightenment, liberty, equality and solidarity, are overlooking? Are they probably right when they say that we're losing a feeling of cultural identity and that the ordinary citizen is not being listened to? Do they have a sharper antenna for the human need to feel at home and be heard and seen? A dialogue interspersed with film fragments. In English.
Kafka said a good book is like an axe able to break the ice in our frozen inner self. Can we have such great expectations of literature? Or does it mainly have restrictions? British author David Mitchell, who had a breakthrough with his latest book The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet with the Dutch audience at large, in his lecture examines issues like literature, history and expectations, thereby setting the tone for the Friday night of the festival. Bas Heijne talks to him after his lecture. English spoken.
For the fourth time Winternachten collaborates with a literary organisation in Suriname for the festival. This year Surinamese and foreign writers perform in On Stage, the drama school of actress Helen Kamperveen. The programme offers music, readings by writers from Suriname and by authors Bas Heijne, Iman Humaydan, Yasmine Allas en Bernice Chauly, representing Winternachten from Lebanon, Malaysia and The Netherlands. An evening full of prose, poetry, talks and music, around the theme 'A Sense of Belonging'.
Except for this evening for a general audience, the writers will also visit schools, like the schools in the remote village of Brownsweg (Brokopondo). They will there perform together with the popular Surinamese poet and singer Dorus Vrede.
A closed writer's conference brings the foreign writers together with Surinamese authors together to talk on writers' issues, like 'Writing local - writing global'.
Performance in On Stage, Wednesday 21 April, 8 p.m., admission is free. Mgr. Wulfinghstraat #5, Paramaribo
Crusa Lama - Papiamento for Crossing the Seas - brings a programme with foreign and Aruban authors and musicians. Belinda de Veer, Luciano Milliard en Caresse Isings - all from Aruba - perform together with the authors who have come to Aruba on behalf of Winternachten international literature festival The Hauge: Bernice Chauly (Malaysia), Bas Heijne (Netherlands), Yasmine Allas (Netherlands/Somalia) and Iman Humaydan (Lebanon). The programme consists of readings by the authors, a conversation with the writers on the theme 'A Sense of Belonging', and musical perormances by Le Groove, with singer Anthony Gario. The programme has been made by the Bibliotéca Nacional (National Library) of Aruba.
The authors also perform for students, on Monday 19 April, at the Colegio EPI. Here they will read from their work, and have a discussion with the students, moderated by Victor Mathilda and Pancho Geerman.
The programme starts at 7 p.m. on Sunday 18 April. Admission AFL 5,-. Adress: Hardin Arubiana/Caribiana, Bachstraat # 5, Oranjestad. Information at 00 297 582 1580 or 582 6924, www.bibliotecanacional.aw
Debate, film and music. Three literary debates betweem two authors. One debate in Dutch, one in Papiamentu and one in English. Theme of the talks is 'Sense of Belonging'. The talented, multi-lingual publicist and activist Mario Kleinmoedig is the moderator. At the end of the evening we see a short impressive fragment from a documentary on the African writer Koulsy Lamko (Tsjaad, 1957). This will put the debates in a special perspective. During the evening, there will be music by the Curaçao group Dolce Música and pianist Johnny Kleinmoedig.
On Curaçao the Fundashon pa Planifikashon di Idioma (Foundation for language planning), is the organisational partner for Winternachten. During the festival Krusa Laman on Curaçao all writers and performers will use their own language. Their words will be projected in the local language, Papiamentu. The translations have been taken care of by the FPI. This year's theme 'A sense of belonging' has been translated as the metaphor Kaminda rais a kue tera.
This theme is leading for the festival in Curaçao, and will be dealt with from different perspectives. A substheme is migration, and migration in literature. For FPI, the Curaçao anthropologist Richenel Ansano wrote a sensitive essay, Between Love and Terror: Having a Sense of Belonging is no Joke. This essay is available for free for the audience.
The public library of Curaçao also gives special attention to the theme Kaminda rais a kue tera. On 9 April there will be a festive opening of an exhibition on Krusa Laman and the theme, with all sorts of information on the participating writers and artists, their work, countries of origin, etc..
Then there are the workshops for secondary school pupils, at the schools that will be visited by the authors. Creative writer Elodie Heloise is preparing the children and students for the festival in workshops. During these workshop the pupils will deal with the theme, and deliver materials for the exhibition in the library.
Of course the theme A Sense of Belonging is also present in the public performances. There are the readings of the authors, but besides this the visual artist Frouwkje Smit has made an artistic slideshow with pictures of a number of well known and lesser known people from the island, including writers and artists. Al the authors were asked to choose their favourite spot on Curaçao, where they feel most at home. They also chose a text with the spot. The slideshow is combined with music, and will be shown on Friday 16 April in Villa Maria, Scharloo. The versatile artist Roland Colastica will be the M.C. of that evening.
On Sint Maarten, Winternachten collaborates with the Philipsburg Jubilee Library. Crossing the Seas - as the event is called here, is an evening with readings by writers and poets. The participating authors from Sint Maarten are Peter Lake, Lucinda Audain, Lenworth Wilson Jr. and Mathilda Richards, with music and song by Amin Bouabdelli, Changa Hickinson, Donovan Froston, Erika van Putten and Shanella Romey James. The foreign authors in this programme are Bas Heijne (Netherlands), Yasmine Allas (Netherlands/Somalia), Bernice Chauly (Maleysia) and Iman Humaydan (Lebanon). All texts read by the foreign authors will be projected simultaneously in English translation. The M.C. is Clara Reyes.
Except for this public programme, the library also organises peformances of the writers in high schools and at the Sint Maarten University.
Philipsburg Community and Cultural Center, Backstreet. Wednesday 14 April, 7 p.m. Admission is free.
A man wakes up as an enormous insect, a circus artist fasts until death, a hangman demonstrates a new torture machine, a son has his father sentence him to death by drowning.
The stories of Franz Kafka (1883-1924) are often absurd, but they are presented with the highest degree of realism and in a simple style. Kafka's tragicomic main characters, laden with a guilt feeling based on nothing, try to make the best of the nightmare that life is.
In NRC's Reaers' Club Live columnists and editors of the NRC book pages Elsbeth Etty and Bas Heijne discuss with each other, writer/lawyer Naema Tahir and the audience The Metamorphosis and Other Stories, the new Kafka translation by Willem van Toorn. Host is chief editor of NRC's book pages, Pieter Steinz.
Over the years Kafka's work has been read as a quest for God, a satire on eastern European bureaucracy, an allegory on the human condition and a symbolic autobiography. Kafka serves all sorts of purposes, and exactly that makes him such a suitable subject for the fifth edition of the successful Readers' Club Live at Winternachten.
In the search for the Golden Rule the first question that comes up is: what is our relationship with rules? In 1962 teenager Gerard Spong came from Surinam to the Netherlands. It was the beginning of a decade in which our country would change deeply in character. Religious rules, rules of life, sexual rules; everything was under review to make place for a new generation of those who tolerated and of fortune hunters. Young Spong saw it all happening and decided to study law; the profession preeminently dealing with rules. Eventually he became one of the most successful criminal law attorneys in the Netherlands. Now, looking back, he takes stock; how do the Dutch relate to rules? Have things run their course and are we experiencing the comeback of strict legislation? Or is there an element of truth in the myth that the Dutch won't be told what to do? After Spong's account writer Bas Heijne will talk with him. In Dutch
Is there such a thing a A Golden Social Rule to connect people of different cultures? Indian writer Tarun Tejpal and Dutch writer Bas Heijne try to find it. Which rules have become obsolete because of the worldwide economic crisis and the change of the power-balance in the world? What kind of rules were they? And what should take their place. Maybe it is impossible to create shared rules for a world that is changing so fast. Or isn't it? What kind of rules would they be? How would they come into being in the dazzling mix of religions and social diversity in India, Tejpals fatherland? Tarun Tejpal does not only write novels, but, like Bas Heijne, publishes articles and essays in newspapers and magazines. Host: Markha Valenta. In English
On 27 July 2009 Michaël Zeeman died. He was only 50. His love of books and literature were unequalled. Books were his friends, his relatives, his loves. As a host Zeeman was attached to Winternachten for thirteen years. His death is not only a great loss for cultural life in the Netherlands, but for the festival as well. He leaves behind a gap which no-one can fill. But spiritually is he still with us. In Zeeman's Zealousness Bas Heijne talks to people from the world of the arts and politics about responsibility and inspiration; themes which were very dear to him. With poet/writer Antjie Krog, philosopher/writer Marjolijn Februari and foreign minister of state Frans Timmermans. Host: Bas Heijne. In Dutch
Nuruddin Farah's novel Maps was the subject of the special live edition of NRC Handelsblad's readers' club. The novel, on geographical as well as mental boundaries, is part of the newspaper's AfriCanon.
Farah's Africa and Africa in the media: do they match? A discussion hosted by NRC's Pieter Steinz, with NRC editors Bas Heijne and Elsbeth Etty and Somali born writer Yasmine Allas, and audience participation.
Amitav Ghosh is one of the best known writers from India. With his latest novel Sea of Poppies, the Dutch translation was launched at Winternachten, he pocketed a nomination for the Booker Prize. The first part of a trilogy, it tells the story of Asia's colonial past and is set on the eve of the first Opium war. In a full Main Hall, Bas Heijne talked to Ghosh about his literary work.
A city gripped by fear, and what does that fear do to people: Albert Camus wrote his fabulous novel 'The Pest' (1947) about it. Are their paralls to be drawn with our present day and age?
In the section De Leesclub (The Reading Club) in the leading Dutch daily paper NRC Handelsblad the paper monthly discusses with its readership a book selected by the book editors. The live editions of the Reading Club during Winternachten proved very successful, that's why we're proud to present Reading Club Live again. This year with reviewers Bas Heijne, Elsbeth Etty and the Moroccon/Dutch writer Fouad Laroui, hosted by Pieter Steinz and with audience participation. The book? Of course: The Pest by Albert Camus. Bring a pen, paper and the book! See the relevant pages in NRC Handelsblad. In Dutch
The writer as commuter
The novels of Elif Shafak have been praised in the Dutch press as "cosmopolitan, with a universal human message". In 2005 Winternachten introduced Shafak in the Netherlands. Now she opens the festival with the Winternachten Lecture. The lecture can be downloaded here as PDF.
In our polarised society, in which the islamic and western worlds are often diametrically oppsed we need new cultural forces. Shafak sees a role for literature. In her Winternachten Lecture she will portray the ideal writer as a commuter between cultures, a nomad who by means of art brings two conflicting worlds closer together. She challenges writers to descend from their ivory towers. Using examples from presentday eastern and western literature she will illustrate her views on literature and multiculturalism.
In recent years Elif Shafak's novels have created quite a stir, not only in Turkey, but alsoi elsewhere in the world. Her first novel in Dutch translation was The Flea Palace (2006), about the pictutesque lives of the inhabitants of a dilapidated apartment building in Istanbul. Important themes in her work are multiculturalism, sexuality and the position of women. In 2006 her novel The Bastard of Istanbul appeared. Shafak was born in Strassbourg and raised as the daughter of a single Turkish diplomat and spent a large part of her youth in Madrid and Amman. She studied international relations at the Technical University of Ankara, where she got her Ph.D. in political science on a dissertation entitled: 'State, secularism and masculinity in the modern Turkish society'. She taught among other things gender studies at the universities of Michigan and Arizona. Other books by Shafak are The Saint of Incipient Insanities (2004), The Gaze (2006) and Black Milk, which appeared in November 2007. Shafak publishes regularly in Turkish newspapers and magazines.
After the lecture Elif Shafak will be interviewed by essay writer and NRC Handelsblad editor Bas Heijne. An English/Dutch text of the lecture will be made available.
DOEN Foundation supports the Winternachten Lecture 2008, because international writers are given an opportunity here to share their views. With their colleagues at the festival, but also with the broader public. Thus new insights are born offering a contribution to the social debate in the Netherlands.
The lecture and the interview are in English.
Image of fear number one: the Twin Towers collapsing. What represented fear before this event? The mushroom cloud? Bas Heijne, Gerrit Jan Wolffensperger and Hassan Daoud show what disturbs them now and what disturbed them in the past. Joris Luyendijk asks them if the 'image language of fear' developed in the course of history and if so, if it has changed since 9/11. With recent and older footage from the media and from films, the Middle East and the West. In English
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.
'My little friend Grildrig... I cannot but conclude that the majority of your inhabitants belongs to the most damaging and the most detestable vermin that Mother nature ever allowed to walk on the face of the earth,' Jonathan Swift wrote in his famous 'travel story' Gulliver's Travels. Today only the cartoon-film version is known, but Swift wanted more than just entertain. He wanted to hold a mirror to people's faces. Nukila Amal (Indonesia), Rustum Kozain (South Africa), Atte Jongstra and Allard Schröder found new destinations for Gulliver. Together they wrote Gullivers New Travels and they brought this contemporary version to the stage in Winternachten, directed by Carel Alphenaar. English spoken.
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.
Freedom of speech is under pressure in the Netherlands. Almost every artist or journalist who has appeared in the news as a result of receiving threats, has capitulated. From theatre director Johan Doesburg (Fassbinder's The dirt, the city and death) to Hasna el Maroudi (columnist for the newspaper NRC Handelsblad, 2005).
Each time two aspects came under threat: the person in question, who as a result sought shelter, and the freedom of speech, which after a wave of public indignation is abandoned until the next incident. Afshin Ellian, lawyer, poet and columnist of NRC Handelsblad, opens the program with an introductory essay. Followed by a debate with Sybrand van Haersma Buma (spokesman for the ministry of justice of the Christian democratic party, lower chamber), Bas Heijne (writer) and Marjolijn Februari (philosopher, lawyer and writer). The situation in the Netherlands is given an international perspective by the presence of South African poet and former anti-apartheid activist Breyten Breytenbach. Joesoef Isak, publisher, journalist and champion of the free word in Indonesia, was announced to take part in this discussion, but he had to cancel. Because of ill health he cannot make the trip to the Netherlands. Michaël Zeeman chairs the debate.
'Imagine that you are young, talented and ambitious and live in the anti-utopia known as Nigeria: half the world has imposed severe sanctions on your country. All you hear on the radio is that your land is being sucked into the quaqmire', writes the Nigerian author Helon Habila in his debut novel Wachten op een engel (Waiting for an angel). A novel about the life and work of a young journalist during the era of the grim Nigerian dictator president Abacha. Helon Habila and his South African contemporary Niq Mhlongo talk about ambitions and commitment. What position do you take in Africa if you are young? What are your chances, what are your responsibilities? Mhlongo made his debut with the novel Dog Eat Dog, a graphic and humorous report of his experiences in the post-apartheid generation. Helon Habila opens the programme with his 'Manual for the Independent Mind'. English spoken.
Austin Clarke from Barbados and Drisana Deborah Jack from St Martin, two writers in diaspora, discuss in their work the role of the black Caribbean woman. In spite of her oppressed position, she is strong, proud and confident. For both writers their native island remains an important source of inspiration. Deborah Jack presents her new collection of poems and Commonwealth Writers Prize- winner Austin Clarke reads from his recently published novel Mijn leven in schande (The Polished Hoe). Bas Heijne chairs the discussion. English spoken.
For some people those golden rocket tits, designed by Gaultier for Madonna, were beyond description. Writers Troy Blacklaws (South Africa), Tijs Goldschmidt, Eddin Khoo (Malaysia) and Bas Heijne choose an image from their country or culture that is banned or should be banned and explain their choices. Michaël Zeeman is the presenter.
A discussion with writers Bas Heijne and Herman Franke, moderated by Michaël Zeeman. On the failure of Dutch intellectuals to foresee or understand last year's developments in politics.
With: Anna Enquist, Ardashir Vakil, Bas Heijne, Basil Appollis, Breyten Breytenbach, Ellen Ombre, Henk van Woerden, Ian Buruma, Jan Eijkelboom, Jit Narain, Lasana M. Sekou, Michaël Zeeman, Rajeev Balasubramanyam, Vamba Sherif
What is the most beautiful poem on diaspora? A number of Winternachten guests read their favourite poem from each other's literatures. The writers were introduced by Basil Appollis.
Dutch writer Henk van Woerden gave the introductory lecture (in Dutch) to a debate on the theme of 'diaspora and the writer'. This debate (in English), hosted by Michaël Zeeman, appeared to be a good start for the Boekenweek, a annual event for the promotion of Dutch literature, following a few weeks later in The Netherlands.
What can we Europeans learn from Indian cities like Bombay? Host Lodewijk Brunt discussed this with Dutch writers Bas Heijne and Michiel van Kempen and Indian architect Ashok Bhalotra. About noise and over-population, things that people in Bombay have got used to for a long time (Dutch spoken).
Especially for Winternachten Dutch writer Bas Heijne and his Indian colleague Ardashir Vakil travelled to Bombay's movie world. At the festival they reported on their experiences in the Indian movie industry. They met some of India's most famous actors and screen-writers, and attended film sets. Host was Michaël Zeeman (English spoken).