(Diyarbakir, 1972) came to the Netherlands from Turkish Kurdistan as a refugee at age 20. He described his youth in a tiny Kurdish village in his 2007 debut novel, Het dorp van de zeven broers (The Village of the Seven Brothers). At first he was happy there, until he started resisting the systematic discrimination of Kurds and joined the PKK. In 2016's Regen zonder modder (Rain Without Mud), he relates how he transformed into a social worker and writer in the Netherlands. He sketches a confronting picture of refugee life and the struggle to attain a place in our country. In 2015, Het is je zusje! (It's Your Sister!) appeared, eighteen true stories about honour and blood revenge, in which he takes the point of view of both victims and perpetrators. Besides being a writer, Altuntas is a social worker specializing in honour and blood revenge. As well, he is close to being an expert by experience. As a child he was obliged to revenge the murder of two uncles, but thanks to his peace-loving father was able to avoid it.(WU 2017)
Archive available for: Celal Altuntas
With: Anass Habib, Celal Altuntas, Farah Karimi, Ian Buruma, Jennifer Clement, Kamal Hors, Lex Bohlmeijer, Malini Subramaniam, Michaïl Sjisjkin, Peter Abspoel, Sjoerd de Jong, Ton van de Langkruis, Vonne van der Meer
On the festival's Opening Night, the focus is on freedom of speech. The evening started with Mikhail Shishkin, one of the most prominent representatives of contemporary Russian literature, delivering the Free the Word! speech. Next, the Oxfam Novib PEN Awards were handed out. The debate ''Writing in times of super-diversity' with writers Ian Buruma, Celal Altuntas and Peter Abspoel closed the evening.
The Opening Night is an English spoken programme organized in collaboration with Oxfam Novib, PEN International and PEN Nederland.
Free the Word!-speech by Mikhail Shishkin
Shishkin is the author of four widely acclaimed novels Pismovnik (2010), Maidenhair (2005), Taking of Izmail (2000) and Larionov´s Memoirs (1994), Shishkin is admired as a refined stylist whose fiction engages Russian and European literary traditions and forges an equally expansive vision for the future of literature. Shishkin has worked as a teacher and journalist. His novels have earned him the three most prestigious Russian literary awards: the Russian Booker Prize in 2000, the National Bestseller Prize in 2005, and the Bolshaya Kniga (Big Book) Prize in 2006 and 2011. His works have been translated into thirty languages.
Oxfam Novib PEN Awards
Afterward, the presentation of the prestigious Oxfam Novib PEN Awards honoured today's writers who risk their freedom and even their lives to seek out and publish the truth. The winners were be announced: the Palestine poetr Ashraf Fayadh, who is imprisoned in Saudi Arabia, and the Indian journalist Malini Subramaniam. The latter was able to come over to The Hague to receive the award from Farah Karimi, director of Oxfam Novib.
Debate with Ian Buruma, Celal Altuntas and Peter Abspoel
The debate 'Writing in times of super-diversity' followed, featuring writer and essayist Ian Buruma (New York Times, Guardian, NRC), writer Celal Altuntas (a.o. Het dorp van zeven broers / The Village of Seven Brothers) and anthropologist/writer Peter Abspoel (a.o. Zingeving in het Westen / Giving meaning in the West) as well as moderator Sjoerd de Jong, journalist and ombudsman with NRC Handelsblad newspaper. The subject was "Writing in times of super-diversity."
Host and music
This program was presented by Lex Bohlmeijer, with musical accompaniment by Kamal Hors (oud, voice) and Anass Habib (deff, voice).