(Turkey, 1946) has been called 'the spokesperson of our phantasies, the freest spirit of our prose' by none other than Orhan Pamuk. In his penetrating work Vassaf deals with varying themes like migrant labour, historiography, the falsification of history and the failure of capitalism. Vassaf, a writer in addition to being an internationally respected psychologist, mixes stories with essay-like passages and philosophy with literature. Vassaf is a leading figure in the public debate in Turkey. He has had a weekly column in de newspaper Radikal since 1997. These columns were put together in a book in 2008, entitled Turkey, where are you?. Hell Be Praised (1992), on the result of totalitarianism in daily life was a best-seller in Turkey and published in English. In 2008 the book was translated into Russian. We Still Need to Be Heard (1983) was re-issued in 2003 and translated into French and German. It is pioneering work with keen observations of Turkish workers' children in Western Europa. His latest book, from 2013 is titled Mostari: A Bridge Keeper's Diary, around his stay in Mostar, and the bridge that was demolished in the war, and was recently rebuilt. As Vassaf indicates "It is a novel, an epic poem, the love story of a passerby who becomes enamoured by the bridge."(WIN2009)
Archive available for: Gündüz Vassaf
'The United Nations of Fish, A Fundraising Dinner'. Writers read from their work during dinner, as a fundraising event for the newly opened Rumata Art Space. The evening is organised together with Janet deNeefe, director of the Bali book festival. The four writers on tour for Writers Unlimited will perform together with 'Aisha the little chef', Sese Lawing and local poets. Ticket price is Rp 200,000, to be purchased via firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the opening debate of Poets VS Politicians, eight writers - both international and local - will read from their work, and will be in a discussion. The local participants are Shinta Febriany, Hamran Sunu, Hendra GST, and Herna Aladjai. A debate in Indonesian with help of translators. How do writers see politicians?
The opening night of the festival. With a short movie screening of 'Tribute to Mohammad Salim'. Salim is the translator of the classical maniscript of 'I La Galico'. The distinguished poet Sapardi Djoko Damono will perform this evening. Rodaan al Galidi will read from the classical manuscript, together with three Indonesian poems. Detailed programme will follow soon.
Tickets: Limited seat, contact email@example.com.
An evening with reading and music. Eight writers will read from their work in the original language. English translations will be projected on screen simultaneously. With Gündüz Vassaf (Turkey), Maaza Mengiste (Ethiopia/USA), Abeer Soliman (Egypt) and Rodaan al Galidi (Netherlands/Iraq), Dain Said (Malaysia), Kee Thuan Chye (Malaysia), Chua Guet Eng (Malaysia), Uthara Sankar SB (Malaysia) en Dipika Mukherjee (India). Writer Bernice Chauly is the MC.
Venue: 'No Black Tie', 17, Jalan Mesui, Kuala Lumpur.
The opening programma in The Annexe Gallery in Kuala Lumpur consists of readings by the authors, and a panel discussion. Part one stars at 10.3am, part two at 2.30pm. Admission is free. The four writers invited by Writers Unlimited will participate: Gündüz Vassaf (Turkey), Maaza Mengiste (Ethiopia/USA), Abeer Soliman (Egypt) and Rodaan al Galidi (Netherlands/Iraq). They will perform together with the Malaysian authors Dain Said, Kee Thuan Chye, Chua Guet Eng, Uthara Sankar SB and the Indian writer Dipika Mukherjee. The discussions are moderated by the Malaysian writers Amir Muhammad and Umpagan Ampikaipakan. Admission is free.
The first performance in this tour is in Kuala Lumpur in the Experimental Theatre in Taylor's University. The writers will read from their work, and talk with the students and other visitors. The four writers invited by Writers Unlimited - Gündüz Vassaf (Turkey), Maaza Mengiste (Ethiopia/USA), Abeer Soliman (Egypt) and Rodaan al Galidi (Netherlands/Iraq) - will perform together with the Malaysian authors Dain Said, Kee Thuan Chye, Chua Guet Eng, Uthara Sankar SB and the Indian writer Dipika Mukherjee. All writers will read in their own language, and their texts will simultaneously be projected on screen in English translation. Admission is free.
Final session of a two day closed writer's meeting with the four writers travelling on invitation of Winternachten, and four Turkish writers: Bejan Matur, Hakan Gunday, Hamdi Koc and Melida Tuzunoglu, on the theme Global writing - global conscience. The sessions are chaired by writer Gündüz Vassaf.
Start of a two day closed writer's meeting with the four writers travelling on invitation of Winternachten, and four Turkish writers: Bejan Matur, Hakan Gunday, Hamdi Koc and Melida Tuzunoglu, on the theme Global writing - global conscience. The sessions are chaired by writer Gündüz Vassaf.
On Sunday afternoon, Tegenspraak (Counter Talk) a programme in cooperation with Winternachten with literature from the Turkish region, took place in Tropentheater Amsterdam. For a long time there has been a critical tradition in Turkish literature, with writers aiming their grievances at the powers that be. As early as the Ottoman Empire there has been sharp criticism, notably from the poet Tefik Fikret. Fikret shuns the Sultan and all religion. He takes a stand against everything that is regarded as holy and against the glorification of history. For the programme Tegenspraak: Turkish Controverses five Turkish authors were invited, all of them writing in the critical literary tradition of Fikret, authors who in their literary work and in columns deal with politics and society.
The writers treated the audience on their literary current affairs. The programme was hosted by Margreet Dorleijn and Funda Müjde. See www.tropentheater.nl.
In the crash course 'How to Bluff Your Way into Turkish Literature' the richness of Turkish language and literature was presented. No fewer than five writers had been invited by Winternachten: three writers from Turkey, a Turkish poet from the Greek part of Cyprus, and a writer from Azerbaijan (Azeri is a Turkish language).
The diversity of the guests should have been a sign of the complexity of the subject: Turkish is not only spoken in Turkey and the country itself knows several different languages. In Turkey, literature is still used for activistic and emancipatory goals contrary to contemporary Dutch literature.
In presenting fragments of their own work, the social context of the work clearly stands out: corruption, the influential role of the militairy apparatus, the problems of poor communities and the difficult access to good education for these groups. By the end of the afternoon, it's clear that Turkish literature indeed consists of much more then the work of Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk. Turkish literature proves to be broad and vivid, consisting of socially concerned writers.
Five writers and thinkers from four corners of the globe came together at Winternachten to provide Barack Obama with their do's and don'ts. After formulating their piece of advice students of the Institute of Social Studies reacted on the comments.
Host Michaël Zeeman was surprised by the cynical and even activistic reaction of the students. Where the writers are eager and hopefull for the change this new president can bring, the students turned out to be very sceptical.
Participants of the debate were writers Nelleke Noordervliet and Naema Tahir, the British-Belgian political philosopher Chantal Mouffe, Turkish writer and psychologist Gündüz Vassaf and development economist Ashwani Saith from India. They each formulated one piece of advice for Obama. Students of the Institute of Social Studies (ISS), hailing from southern countries, were to react to these recommendations. Once decided on, the following do's and dont's were shipped to the White House:
Do's and don't's for Barack Obama Ashwani Saith:
Palestine! Dismantle walls, build justice!
Share a cigar with Fidel!
Disarm! Transfer farm subsidies to African peasants
Think of multilateralism, not neo-imperialism
Confluence, not clash of civilisations
Nurture nature, don't sell it
Protect workers, not tycoons
Social, not 'bastard' Keynesianism
And, oh, yes - keep sharing your toys …
Acknowledge that the world is multi-polar and that the US cannot behave any more as the sole legitimate centre of power. Diversity exists. Diversity and identity underpin everything.
Think also as a world citizen.
Be bold, focus on right not re-election. Make peace, not war.
You're a giant – tread lightly.
Prioritise without partisanship: Israel/Palestine
Appoint a court-jester who keeps telling you the truth.
Be more a Philosopher-King than a King-Warrior
Be the leader who inspires all to contribute to the good of society by encouraging the belief that good deeds and good behaviour rests in all
Students of the Institute of Social Studies:
Do no harm to foreign countries
Don't be the leader of the world
Don't impose yourself on others
Remember the principles you had in your campaign
Imagine other paradigms
On Friday 1 May 2009 their will be a follow-up of the debate, in cooperation with the ISS, exacly 100 days after his inauguration.
In The Folds of Language Selim Temo (Kurdish), Kamran Nazirli (Azerbaijani) and Gündüz Vassaf (Turkey) read and talked about their daily struggle not to have their language kidnapped by politics or taboo. Turkish/Dutch/English.
In the programme Metamorphoses three authors read about metamorphoses with gusto. Gündüz Vassaf (Turkey) made Istanbul speak. Nury Vittachi (Hongkong) gave satirical examples of East-West metamorphoses. And the Moroccan writer Youssouf Amine Elalamy told a story in which metamorphoses are rampant.