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Ian Buruma

Ian Buruma - foto Merlijn Doomernik
Ian Buruma - foto Merlijn Doomernik

(The Hague, NL, 1951) is a sinologist, japanologist, journalist and writer. Asian culture, democracy, religion, politics, Islamic fundamentalism, and the aftermath of World War II are returning subjects in his vast body of work. His essays have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The Guardian, NRC and The New York Review of Books. Buruma grew up in The Hague, the child of a British mother and a Dutch father. His book Their Promised Land: My grandparents in times of love and war tells the story of his London-born, German-Jewish grandparents. He has been a professor of democracy, human rights and journalism in New York since 2003. He received the Erasmus Prize in 2008.

(WN 2019)

Archive available for: Ian Buruma

  • 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

    Thinking Beyond the State

    Is the state capable of coping with globalization? Can citizens entrust their fate to national politicians while the economy, cultural shifts and the environment are less and less contained by national borders? What are the possibilities and dangers when the state is no longer a given in the world order?
    Celebrated essayist and writer Ian Buruma talked with American-Mexican writer and poet Jennifer Clement, who recently published her new novel Gun Love, and prominent historian and writer David Van Reybrouck, known for his research into the colonial past in Congo and his innovative thoughts on democracy in Against elections. Conversation host: Hassnae Bouazza.

  • Age of Anger - met Pankaj Mishra en Ian Buruma

    Age of Anger - with Pankaj Mishra and Ian Buruma

    With: Ian Buruma, Pankaj Mishra, Sheila Sitalsing

    Anger as an incentive in politics seems contemporary but sure is not. Two internationally renowned writers - Pankaj Mishra, who recently published his brilliant new book Age of Anger, and Ian Buruma - recently named editor of acclaimed magazine The New York Review of Books - discussed the subject, moderated by journalist Sheila Sitalsing. English spoken.

    Pankaj Mishra is one of the most important writers and intellectuals of our age. He was born in India, lives and works in London and wrote several novels and studies. Age of Anger: A History of the Present is a concise and brilliantly written history of anger as political incentive. Surprising historical parallels show that our age is not unique: the early twentieth century was full of destructive urges, nationalism and terrorism; not a very comforting thought. It is an alarming book: a change of mentality seems necessary to safeguard our freedom, prosperity and stability.

    Ian Buruma is a Dutch-British sinologist, japanologist, journalist and writer. In 2017 he was named editor of the internationally acclaimed magazine The New York Review of Books. Since 1985, Buruma contributes to this magazine, as he publishes in among others The New York Times, The Guardian and the NRC Handelsblad newspaper. Buruma has written many books about Asian culture, democracy in crisis, Islamic fundamentalism, and the aftermath of World War II. He is a regular guest and panel host of the Winternachten festival.

    A programma curated by Judith Uyterlinde and Ilonka Reintjens (Writers Unlimited).
    Bookselling by Van Stockum Boekverkopers.
    In cooperation with Atlas Contact Publishers and OBA.

  • Winternachten 2017

    VPRO O.V.T. Live

    With: Arnon Grunberg, Bart Funnekotter, Bas Heijne, Eric Vloeimans, Ian Buruma, Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, Jos Palm, Karin Amatmoekrim, Nelleke Noordervliet, Paul van der Gaag

    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.

  • Winternachten 2017

    Opening Night: Free the Word!

    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).

  • Winternachten 2017 – Saturday Night Unlimited

    IS: The Horror Show

    A late-night show about a daring subject: today's campaign of terror by the Islamic State within and outside the Arabic world. Iraqi-born writer Hassan Blasim - The Guardian called him "perhaps the best writer of Arabic fiction alive" - reads from his short story collection The Corpse Exhibition (2014) in which he pictures daily life in contemporary Iraq not only by vivid, lurid and violent scenes but by showing the surreal, humoristic and enchanting sides of his characters. The collection is published in its Dutch language version titled Lijkententoonstelling during Winternachten Festival 2017.

    Journalist Hassnae Bouazza discusses the subject with Hassan Blasim, with highly esteemed political essayist Ian Buruma and with Dutch top writer Arnon Grunberg.

    How should one analyze staged and theatrically planned murderous acts? What is the relationship between IS's bombastic horror-pathos and the fascist European propaganda of the 1930s?

    Spoken Beat Night accompanies Hassan Blasim during the reading from The Corpse Exhibition

  • Winternachten 2017 – Friday Night Unlimited

    This Is Not America (Part 2)

    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.

  • Winternachten 2017 – Friday Night Unlimited

    This Is Not America (part 1)

    A late-night show about the United States of America that touches on many issues, from the shrinking middle class to the differences between whites and blacks, from hopeful new immigrants to the embittered white underclass. The America of the supporters of Donald Trump. A discussion between bestselling US author Colson Whitehead, Bolivian author Rodrigo Hasbún, Dutch writer Christine Otten and Anglo-Dutch writer Ian Buruma about America in the era of president Trump. Stephan Sanders moderates the conversation and Spoken Beat Night adds a jazzy musical interpretation of the American story.

  • Winternachten 2015 – SATURDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    At the Home Front

    Is there still such a thing as "home" when you return after a war? How do you rebuild a life? How do you reconstitute a civilization? Ian Buruma wrote Year Zero: A History of 1945, about the immediate aftermath of WWII. Stefan Hertman's War and Turpentine describes World War I through the eyes of his grandfather. Both authors choose a notably personal approach; Buruma, too, used the experiences of a family member—his father—as motivation to delve into world history. How does it affect a story when the source is so close to home? Is it possible to reflect reality on the basis of a detail? David Van Reybrouck poses these questions to the authors. Louise O. Fresco starts off the programme with a commentary.

  • Winternachten 2015 – SATURDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    Ian Buruma Introduces Witold Szabłowski

    A conversation about the need to ask difficult questions, the importance of investigative journalism, and the rise of literary non-fiction. Witold Szabłowski is an award-winning Polish "literary" journalist and Ian Buruma is internationally acclaimed as one of the most influential thinkers of our time. In English.

  • Winternachten 2015 – FRIDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    The Text of My Life: Ian Buruma

    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 Arjan Peters and Nuweira Youskine. In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2014

    VPRO OVT Live

    With: Ad van Liempt, Ian Buruma, Jacques Janssen, Jos Palm, Neco Novellas, Nelleke Noordervliet, Paul van der Gaag

    One of the best listened-to programmes on Radio 1 is VPRO's OVT (Simple Past Tense). Every Sunday morning the topicality of history takes centre stage. It has become something of a tradition for the programme to be broadcast live from the festival and therefore it relocates to The Hague. This time to be broadcast live for an audience, from the warm foyer of Theater aan het Spui.

    Paul van der Gaag and Jos Palm are the hosts and there is live music by Neco Novellas. Ian Buruma, Jacques Janssen and Nelleke Noordervliet are guests, among others. Music by Neco Novellas. Members of the public are invited to come and both admission and coffee are free. But please, don't forget to book through the link at the top of this page.

  • Winternachten 2014

    Opening Night: Free the Word!

    With: Farah Karimi, Frank Westerman, Ian Buruma, Laura McVeigh, Manon Uphoff, Marente de Moor, Marjolein de Jong, Oksana Chelysheva, Petra Stienen, Trio Mäshräp

    On the opening night of the festival the freedom of speech and the power of the word are highlighted. The opening speech will be held by Dutch writer and journalist Ian Buruma. With the award ceremony of the prestigious Oxfam Novib/PEN Awards for Freedom of Expression PEN and Oxfam Novib honour international writers, journalists and film makers who, sometimes risking their own lives, seek the truth and make it known. The three winners are announced in January and one of them will take delivery of the prize.

    The award winning ceremony is followed by a debate on social media in the struggle against repression, with among others Dutch writers Marente de Moor and Frank Westerman. Social media form an increasingly influential stage for the cultivation of the free word. Through their own sites, facebook pages and blogs writers, journalists and other citizens can give their opinions outside official channels, expose evils and fight forms of repression and corruption. How can we, as citizens of a growing 'Global Community' guarantee this freedom of expression? How can we prevent governments from curbing that freedom? Meanwhile in many places worldwide internet papers are controlles and bloggers prosecuted and detained.

    The Alderman for Culture of the Municipality of The Hague Marjolein de Jong welcomes the audience. Arabist Petra Stienen presents the evening and leads the discussion. With music by the Uighur Trio Mäshräp.

    The programme is in English, and organised in cooperation with PEN International, PEN Nederland and Oxfam Novib.

  • Winternachten 2014 – SATURDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    Talking to the writers: Ian Buruma and Geling Yan

    Join the regulars' table. Host Francis Broekhuijsen welcomes Ian Buruma and Geling Yan. We listen to their favourite music, and talk to them. Don't forget to have your books autographed. English and Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2014 – SATURDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    Don't mention the War: China and Japan

    China and Japan share a war past; a subject that was unmentionable for a long time. At present the traumatic events and troubled relations are increasingly dealt with in film and literature. Geling Yan's film adaptation of her novel Thirteen Girls from Nanjing is about a bloodbath in 1937 in the city of Nanjing, a very important theme in modern Chinese literature. Ian Buruma is an expert on China and Japan and wrote the historical novel The China Lover about a Japanese film heroine at the time of the Japanese occupation of China (1937-1945). How are both the roles of China en Japan in WOII reviewed? A conversation about coping with war traumas in China and Japan, with the use of film extracts. In English.

  • Winternachten 2014 – SATURDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    The great estrangement: East-West 1945-1950

    We plunge into a crucial episode in our history: 1945-1950. WOII had ended, but in the former Dutch East Indies the struggle which went hand in hand with colonisation was still raging vehemently. Ian Buruma looks into East-West relations in 1945 in his latest book The Year Zero. In January Ad van Liempt publishes his After Liberation: the Bad Years between 1945-1950, a book and a seven-part tv series in which he deals with the changing relation between the Netherlands and the former Dutch East Indies. The Indonesian writer Linda Christanty opens the programme with her view on that period, which changed the balance of power for good and Indonesia breaking away from the Netherlands. In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2014 – FRIDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    Writers and film: Ian Buruma

    Writer Ian Buruma for this hour has chosen a number of film extracts about war. He talks to Paul van der Gaag (VPRO's history programme OVT). With among others extracts from Apocalypse Now and Throne of Blood. In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2007 – WINTERNACHT 1

    In search of pure Islam

    Hosted by writer/journalist Joris Luyendijk, journalist Rachida Azough and writer/essayist Ian Buruma talked to the Moroccan/Dutch writer Fouad Laroui on his book On Islamism. A Personal Rebuttal. He dissects and refutes the principles of islamism as a collective, political and totalitarian religion, blocking free, individual belief. What remains is pure religion. Journalist Rachida Azough replaced Naïma Azough. Dutch spoken.

  • Winternachten 2001

    Live Anthology and Debate

    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.

  • Winternachten 2001 – Winternacht 1

    Living in Two Cultures

    What is it like to live in two cultures? Which language dominates in thinking and dreaming? Emeritus Professor in History H.W. von der Dunk and writer Ian Buruma discussed this matter from their personal experience (Dutch spoken).

  • Winternachten 2001 – Winternacht 1

    Literature assimilating the past

    Shortly before the festival Jan Eijkelboom's book Het Krijgsbedrijf was published, about the Dutch military campaigns during the Indonesian war of independence. Ian Buruma and Breyten Breytenbach discussed the theme from a Japanese and South African perspective. The discussion was led by Michaël Zeeman. In this programme there was also a screening of a Dutch television programme in which writer Adriaan van Dis and South African poet Antjie Krog were interviewed about the way the South Africans deal with the Apartheid era. Furthermore, this theme was elaborated on in the film Long Night's Journey into Day, showing interrogations in the Truth and Reconciliation Committee. (Dutch and Afrikaans spoken).