John Ralston Saul
(Canada, 1947) has been president of PEN International since 2009. Time magazine called him "a prophet," and he is seen as one of the great thinkers of our time. In 2005 he predicted the global economic crisis in The Collapse of Globalism and the Reinvention of the World. Saul has written 14 books that have been translated into 25 languages. He is internationally renowned for his philosophical trilogy Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, The Doubter's Companion: A Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense, and The Unconscious Civilization. For Penguin Canada he produced a series of 18 biographies about Canadian historical figures, written by well-known Canadian writers. Saul made his debut as a novelist in 1977, and in the 1980s a thriller and an adventure story by him were published in Dutch. He has been active with PEN Canada since 1990. He is also the founder of The Institute for Canadian Citizenship, which helps newcomers integrate into Canadian society.
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With: David Van Reybrouck, Dinar Rahayu, Farah Karimi, John Ralston Saul, Joris Wijsmuller, Karl Ove Knausgård, Leela Corman, Mano Bouzamour, Manon Uphoff, Mohammed Benzakour, Nelleke Noordervliet, Pauni Trio, Petra Stienen, Razan al-Maghrabi, Ton van de Langkruis
A special opening night featuring a keynote speech by Karl Ove Knausgård, the Oxfam Novib PEN Awards for Freedom of Expression, a debate moderated by Petra Stienen, and concluding words by David Van Reybrouck.
Freedom of speech and the power of the word are central issues on the festival's opening night. The president of PEN International, John Ralston Saul, will introduce the Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård, who delivers the keynote Free Word Speech. Farah Karimi, director of Oxfam Novib will announce the laureates of the prestigious Oxfam Novib PEN Awards for Freedom of Expression. The awards honour writers who seek out and propagate the truth, sometimes at the risk of their own lives. Razan al-Maghrabi was one of the laureates, who could be present at the festival to receive the award. After an interview with Manon Uphoff (president of PEN Nederland), there will be adebate, moderated by Petra Stienen, on religious extremism and the value of provocation. Panellists include writers Mohammed Benzakour, Mano Bouzamour, cartoonist Leela Corman and Dinar Rahayu (Indonesia). David Van Reybrouck rounds out the evening with one his poems. After the programme, Writers Unlimited chair Nelleke Noordervliet and Alderman for culture of The Hague Joris Wijsmuller adress founder and festivaldirector Ton van de Langkruis on the occasion of the 20th edition of the festival. This event was put together with the collaboration of PEN International, PEN Nederland and Oxfam Novib.