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Chris Keulemans

Chris Keulemans
Chris Keulemans

(Tunisia, 1960) is a writer, essayaist, traveller and in-demand panel moderator. He has published fiction and non-fiction, was the director of the debating platform and venue De Balie, and a founder of the literary bookshop Perdu and the cultural centre De Tolhuistuin, both in Amsterdam. He appeared on stage with Enkidu Khaled in their jointly created documentary theatre piece Bagdad. Due to his curiosity about how artists recreate their cities after a crisis, he travelled to Sarajevo, Beirut, Tirana, Algiers, New York, Kiev, Jakarta and Qamishlo.

(WN 2019)

Archive available for: Chris Keulemans

  • Winternachten 2021

    #BacktoEarth: Tout-monde (Whole World)

    With: Amahl Raphael Khouri, Annemarie Estor, Chris Keulemans, Nisrine Mbarki, Shishani, Sulaiman Addonia, Vamba Sherif

    The image that we have of our world is purely human: a human-centred picture. It's up to us to give non-humans a voice and a stage. In this program created by Nisrine Mbarki, we give the floor to the non-human elements of our world. It was an existentially poetic evening in which the world was experienced from a different, more complete, perspective.

    The term Tout-monde (whole-world), coined by the Caribbean poet and philosopher Édouard Glissant (1928-2011) advocates the use of language and poetry as a tool of resistance. We can look at the world from the point of view of other people, animals, plants and even objects by identifying with them. In the Netherlands, writer Eva Meijer calls on philosophers, writers and artists to get to work on this.

    We discussed this theme with writer and journalist Vamba Sherif who always explores the history of his family in North and West Africa, irrevocably linked to the African earth. In his novel Het land van de vaders (The land of the Fathers) he tells about his native country Liberia, where the religion of nature was adhered to by praying to trees, rocks and rivers.

    We asked three guests to give a voice to beloved non-humans who, in their view, should have one. These include the Eritrean-Ethiopian author Sulaiman Addonia; the Belgian writer and poet Annemarie Estor and the transgender Jordanian playwright living and working in Berlin and Cairo, Amahl Raphael Khouri.

    In their works the search for an individual, free voice plays an important role. They are especially adept at taking on alternative voices that lack the usual perspectives on the world and are therefore of great added value.

    The authors' readings of their stories were filmed on location, in their own habitat by respectively Ahmed El Saaty (Khouri), Shalan Alhamwy (Addonia) en Nils van der Linden (Estor). Afterwards, writer and journalist Chris Keulemans lead a live conversation with Addonia and Khouri to reflect on what issues the assignment raised.

    Shishani brings worlds together with an earthly and powerful voice and was therefore the singer-songwriter par excellence to engage us with the non-human.

    Read here the contributions written for this programme on request of the Winternachten international literature festival The Hague:

    (Find the Dutch-language versions here/Lees hier de Nederlandstalige versies)
    Learn more here:

    Read and watch on here:

    Sulaiman Addonia
    'Murder, migration and mother love, the making of the novelist Sulaiman Addonia, interview, The Guardian, 2019

    Annemarie Estor

    Chris Keulemans
    Video: Chris Keulemans hosts an interview with authors Rosabelle Illes (Aruba) and Antoine de Kom, Winternachten festival 2020

    Amahl Raphael Khouri
    Video: conversation with Amahl Raphael Khouri; host: Alice Guthrie, Arts Canteen, July 2020

    Nisrine Mbarki
    Video, from 58'40'': recitation by Nisrine Mbarki in Fatena's Poëziësalon, December 2020

    Vamba Sherif

    YouTube-channel Shishani

  • Winternachten 2020 – Saturday Night Unlimited

    Poetry Unlimited: Surinam and Aruba

    The Dutch-Surinamese poet Antoine de Kom and Rosabelle Illes from Aruba have a conversation with Chris Keulemans about their work and how roots influence it. Both also read from their own work.

    Antoine de Kom is of Dutch-Surinamese background and the grandson of Anton de Kom, the Surinamese nationalist and resistance fighter. De Kom spent a great deal of his youth in Surinam. His first two poetry collections reflect that time: Tropen (Tropics, 1991) and De kilte in Brasilia (The Cold in Brasilia, 1995). The volumes Zebrahoeven (Zebra Hooves, 2001) and Chocoladetranen (Chocolate Tears, 2004) followed. De Kom was nominated for the C. Buddingh Prize and the Ida Gerhardt Poetry Prize, and his latest collection, Ritmisch zonder string (Rhythmic without String, 2013) won the VSB Poetry Prize.

    Rosabelle Illes debuted in 2005 with her poetry collection Beyond Insanity. In 2010 she published Spiel di mi Alma, a poetry collection in her mother tongue of Papiamento that reveals a world of contradictions to the reader. Her third book, Title (2016), is a collection of stories, poems and thoughts. On the stage, Illes transforms into a true performer of her poems, carrying away her audience in a stream of words, movement and meaning.

    Tip: Rosabelle Illes also appears at Opening Night - A Free Mind on 15 January at Theater aan het Spui, during Worden Worden Zinnen - the Writers Unlimited edition on 16 January at Paard, and with Cynthia McLeod on Saturday, 18 January at the Schilderswijk Library.

  • Winternachten 2020 – Saturday Night Unlimited

    I Have No Other Country than this Country

    Connectedness with the fatherland, the struggle with inequality, motherhood, womanhood and aging. Are these themes from the versatile work of Antjie Krog also shared by her younger colleague Jolyn Phillips? Did Krog pave the way for a new generation? What does Phillips carry on and what does she leave behind? In a conversation with Chris Keulemans, Krog and Phillips take up their differences and similarities and lay out the future of Afrikaans-language literature.

    Krog is an author of poetry collections, children's poetry, prose and plays. She has also translated books from Dutch and English into Afrikaans. In the Netherlands, she is known for her impressive recitations during Poetry International, the Night of Poetry and Winternachten festival.

    Phillips is working on a PhD in Creative Writing. She has published short stories and poems. In 2016 she had a successful debut with her English-language stories, Tjieng Tjang Tjerries, which she adapted for the stage, including music. In 2017 she followed that up with a volume of poetry in Afrikaans, Radbraak.

    Tip: Antjie Krog also appears at the Winternachten New Year's Concert on Sunday afternoon, 19 January in the Zuiderstrand Theatre: a sparkling matinee of music, poetry and spoken word with Wende, Fresku, Ellen ten Damme, Ramsey Nasr and others.

  • Winternachten 2020 – Saturday Night Unlimited

    Indonesia: History is an Always-Broken Promise

    Writers from Indonesia and The Netherlands look at the history and the way former colonizers are viewed now. Chris Keulemans talks with them about how this influences their work and invites them to read from their work.

    Besides being a famous poet, Goenawan Mohamad is also a journalist, essayist, editor and columnist. He contributed to the formation of the Indonesian language, Bahasa Indonesia. He participated in many ways in the struggle against Suharto's regime. In 1995, he was a guest writer at the inaugural Writers Unlimited festival and has returned several times since to The Hague to take part again.

    Angelina Enny is a writer, actor and theatre director. Her story debut, Nokturnal Melankolia, was adapted for the stage. In 2019 she collaborated with Dutch writer and musician Robin Block on a volume of poetry, In Between, Di Antara, in which they explore their personal stories, (family) memories and dreams, as well as their shared (Indonesian) history. Enny says: "For me, historical events consist of personal stories. Stories of people whose chronicles we have forgotten. That is specifically why we need to tell them."

    The grandparents of poet. musician and theatre maker Robin Block fled the Dutch East Indies in 1949. They crossed the ocean to build a new life in the Netherlands, a country of which they were official citizens, but where they had never set foot and which did not provide a warm welcome.

    Tip: Angelina Enny and Goenawan Mohamad read from their own work at Opening Night - A Free Mind on Wednesday, 15 January. Robin Block performs together with poet Ellen Deckwitz in 'Indische roots in poëzie en muziek' in Biblotheek Nieuw Waldeck on Friday evening 17 January.

  • Winternachten 2019

    Ian Buruma's Choice

    With: Chris Keulemans, Ian Buruma

    Ian Buruma is without doubt one of the most well-known writers and thinkers of our time. You had the unique chance to get to know him better on the basis of his literary taste. We asked him to speak to you about his favourite fiction or non fiction - no doubt a difficult task for a writer, essayist and critic who during three decades reviewed many books for among others The New York Review of Books. Buruma chose An Area of Darkness (1984) by V.S. Naipaul; Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929) by Alfred Döblin and Naomi (1924) by Tanizaki Junichiro. In a conversation with writer and programmer Chris Keulemans, he talked about his literary choices. The audience was welcome to join in with questions.
    Organised in collaboration with BOZAR.

  • Winternachten 2019 – Saturday Night Unlimited

    Books Unlimited: Ayelet Gundar-Goshen & Gioconda Belli

    Get to know international literary stars and their recent books. Expect to hear about their motivation to write, the creation of their characters and the worldwide success of their books. Writer and essayist Chris Keulemans talked with Ayelet Gundar-Goschen (Israel) about her second novel Waking Lions and with Gioconda Belli (Nicaragua) about her novel El país de las mujeres (The Land of the Women).
    After her debut, One Night, Markovitch, Gundar-Goshen builds up the suspense in her second novel, Waking Lions, which is about a surgeon who must live with the consequences of a car accident. Belli made her international breakthrough with The Inhabited Woman; in 2012 she published The Land of the Women, about a South-American country that since two years is governed solely by women.

  • Winternachten 2018

    Frank Westerman meets Mohsin Hamid

    With: Chris Keulemans, Frank Westerman, Mohsin Hamid

    Mohsin Hamid's novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) is educational: it shows how hurtful our way of doing things can seem to an outsider. And how the sheer power of the West - apart from the question of whether it is justified - creates much bad blood among people who want to take part in it with their talent and intellect, but who continue to feel shut out. This was written by Leonie Breebaart in Trouw newspaper in a discussion of Hamid's bestseller.

    Now, one decade later, Mohsin Hamid had a conversation with journalist and writer Frank Westerman. The latter takes his readers back - among others in Srebrenica, the Blackest Scenario and especially in A Word, a Word - to terrorist acts from the recent past.

    Which are the right words and deeds to win the battle of ideas with the fundamentalists? The conversation was hosted by Chris Keulemans.

    Right after the performance, Mohsin Hamid and Frank Westerman were at Van Stockum Bookshop in the foyer for a booksigning session.

  • Wetenschap is ook maar een mening

    Science is Just a Matter of Opinion

    With: Chris Keulemans, Frank Westerman, Geert Munnichs, Katinka Baehr, Roel Coutinho

    Productiegegevens Watch the video-registration of this programme. A discussion between Roel Coutinho (virologist) and Maarten Keulemans (head of the science department of De Volkskrant newspaper) on criticism on scientists.
    Moderated by Katinka Baehr. In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2012 – Winternacht 2

    Burger King & Citizenship

    Since the crisis there has been a lot of talk about consumer confidence. But what about 'citizen confidence'? The 21st century citizen seems to be adrift. He feels powerless, unheard and misunderstood. The expressions of discontent, the analyses of the causes and the attempts at a solution are endless: From Occupy to the Tea Party. In Burger King & Citizenship a debate on the citizen in the present democracy. Does the notion of 'citizen' still exist or has democracy slowly turned into a plutocracy acting as democracy? Who possesses the power and the laws: the citizen or the banks? Tonight the citizens speak, in the greenhouse in front of the theatre. You can watch and listen outside.

  • Winternachten 2010 – Winternachten 1

    Wintercafé 4: Rules for Radicals 2.0

    Nowadays, where does an angry artist leave his rage and criticism? In 'Rules for Radicals' we search for a pragmatic manual for the making of harmful literature, street noise and bombs for the national canon. Which are the new strategies for today's artists? In this programme we propose a new form of radicalism. The artist should penetrate the system as a sheep in wolves' clothes in order to eat the codes and replace them with others. No overt opposition, but infiltration. The good example: The Yes Men, with their 'identity correction'. The Yes Men disguise themselves as big criminals with the objective to humiliate them publicly. And who are these criminals? CEOs and representatives of big companies who put profit above everything else. In Dutch. See also the movie that is shown in advance of this programme: The Yes Men Fix the World. In English (Dutch subtitles).

  • Winternachten 2006 – WINTERNACHT 1

    Candid Indonesian

    In her sensational debut novel Ode aan Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch ( Ode to Leopold von Sacher-Masoch) (2002), about sadomasochism and transsexualism, Muslima Dinar Rahayu discovers "a surrealistic view on life and fate, mixed with the delusions, dreams and experiences of the characters". In his short stories writer and columnist A.S. Laksana lives on the fringes of society, together with vagrant childeren, glue sniffers and prostitutes. Two young Indonesian writers discuss with Chris Keulemans their innovative and candid style of writing. English spoken.

  • Winternachten 2006 – WINTERNACHT 1

    Colonial history of the East and West

    Frank Martinus Arion (1936, Curacao) en Eka Kurniawan (1975, Indonesia) met each other last summer during the Winternachten tour of Indonesia. Despite different generations and continents they found in each other a common interest, that of colonial history. Chaired by Chris Keulemans, they talk about the way they give the history a place in their work by using fact and fiction in a playful, ironic way. Frank Martinus Arion reads from his new novel De deserteurs (The deserters), about the struggle against slavery. Eka Kurniawan acquaints us with his historical novel Cantik itu luka (The wounded beauty), a story that takes place in the declining days of the Dutch East Indies and up to the recent past of Indonesia. English spoken.

  • Winternachten 2005 – WINTERNACHT 1

    Poetry from Indonesia and Malaysia

    Malay and Bahasa Indonesian are closely related languages. In recent years writers and poets from both countries have worked with one another regularly. For instance the Javanese poet Agus Sarjono and his Malayan colleague Eddin Khoo. They will discuss this relationship and read from their work, together with the well known Indonesian Sutarji Calzoum Bachri. In his innovative poems Sutarji 'liberates' the words from their original meaning. Last October he stole the show with his impressive poetry recital during the Winternachten tour in South Africa.
    English spoken

  • Winternachten 2004 – WINTERNACHT 1

    Putu Wijaya: the oracle of Asia

    Putu Wijaya is one of the most important prose writers in Indonesia. For Winternachten this excellent performer wrote a 'Prophecy' concerning the future of Asia. He will discuss this with Chris Keulemans. After that he will read various extracts from his work. Wijaya in his work shocks and desorientates the reader. He places, quote: 'mental time bombs' in ordinary people's lives. English language.

  • Winternachten 2004 – WINTERNACHT 1

    Idealism, commitment and literature in Indonesia

    Two writers who through their work want to make a conscious contribution towards a new future for Indonesia. The young Molukkan writer Nukila Amal reads from her much praised debute novel Cala Ibi: The main character in the story enters into a dialogue with her mirror image; this a somewhat uncommon literary form in Indonesia. Nukila Amal writes in a very direct open language about her Molukkan past and the future, about dreams and reality, about spirituality and religion and about the difficult relationship between man and woman. Acep Zamzam Noor is one of the most important critical poets of Indonesia. Without raising his voice and with wonderful metaphors, he is able to convey the consequences of the present unrest in Indonesia on the population. Amal and Zamzam Noor will talk with Chris Keulemans. English language.

  • Winternachten 2004 – Claiming Artistic Freedom

    Hivos: Teater Utan Kayu in Jakarta: Nieuwe vrijheden bedreigd