(Oost-Souburg, NL, 1959) studied Dutch and Literary Theory in Leiden. He spent several years as a professional dancer. Later he developed into a versatile radio-maker at the NCRV broadcaster, including the successful "Casa Luna" programme. He now hosts two programmes on Radio 4: "Passaggio" (weekdays at 7 p.m.) and the talk show "Diskotabel." He also works in theatre as a dramaturge and writer. He is increasingly active as a presenter of concerts, conferences and debates. Every Saturday, he publishes an interview with an inspiring special guest in De Correspondent online daily.(GR WU 15)
Archive available for: Lex Bohlmeijer
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).
What is real, what is fake? And yet it's the fabrications that can provide insight into the world in which we live. The Anglo-Dutch Michel Faber, who kicks off the evening with the Winternachten Lecture about reality and fantasy, creates a future world in his novels, just like Dutch writer Hanna Bervoets. Czech economist Tomá Sedláček sees parallels between economics and old myths, and Mircea Cărtărescu, also a translator of Bob Dylan lyrics, filled his trilogy about Communist Romania with mythical escapes from reality. Moderator: Lex Bohlmeijer.
With: Alaa al Aswani, Dick van der Harst, Dilek Dundar, Farah Karimi, Guy Danel, Habtom Yohannes, Jennifer Clement, Jung Chang, Lex Bohlmeijer, Manon Uphoff, Reinier Voet, Renate Dorrestein, Toine Heijmans, Ton van de Langkruis
On opening night, the spotlight is on freedom of speech.The Sino-British writer Jung Chang knows what it means to be unable to speak freely in one's country. Years after she left Communist China, her world-famous book Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China was banned there. Tonight she delivers the Free the Word! keynote speech. With the following presentation of the prestigious Oxfam Novib PEN Awards, the festival honours contemporary authors who seek and propagate truth at the risk of their freedom and lives. The award-winners are the Turkish writer and journalist Can Dundar (who is now in prison in Turkey and will be represented by his wife Dilek Dundar), the Eritrean poet and songwriter Amanuel Asrat, who will be represented by Habtom Yohannes, and the Egyptian poet Omar Hazek. He would have been present in The Hague to receive the award, but was stopped on his way to The Netherlands at Cairo airport by the authorities. His fellow-countryman writer Alaa Al Aswany will represent him. After the ceremony, Lex Bohlmeijer will lead a discussion on how good intentions can founder when we raise issues of injustice, such as censorship. How can we really help threatened writers? And what is the point of good intentions when they have the opposite effect? Musical interventions by musician-in-residence Dick van der Harst switch up this English-language event.
Four innocent young women looking for refuge. In Forgotten, José Eduardo Agualusa tells the story of Ludo, who locks herself in her home on the eve of Angola's independence. She stays there for three decades while wars rage outside. In The Book of Memory, Petina Gappah gives voice to an albino girl named Memory who is abused by her white adoptive father. The girl tells her shocking story from a jail cell. In Joanna Bator's novel Dark, almost Night, Alicja tries to uncover her deceased sister's secret in the abandoned house on the Polish-German border where she once lived with her family. And in his new novel Fire Stack, György Dragomán introduces Emma, a girl whose grandmother picks her up from an orphanage in the middle of the Romanian revolution.
Can a writer continue to seek refuge in imagination when all hell breaks loose? Andrej Kurkov wrote novels such as The President's Last Love before revolution broke out in his hometown of Kiev. He decided to write the non-fiction book Ukraine Diaries, about the Ukrainian uprising. When the Arab Spring broke out, novelist Alaa al Aswani camped out in Cairo's Tahrir Square for days on end. He described the revolution in About Egypt:
The provocative considerations of a novelist, in which every piece ends with the phrase "Democracy is the solution".
Alaa al Aswany replaces Mircea Cărtărescu, who was unable to appear due to personal reasons.
A conversation between Israeli writer David Grossman and interviewer Lex Bohlmeijer.
This famous author writes children's books, novels, and essays. He considers it his task to make understandable the complexity of the world in which we live. His moving book Falling Out of Time (2012) was written after his son died in the Lebanese war. In 2012, one of his children's books was filmed in the Netherlands as Nono, het Zigzag Kind (Nono, the Zigzag Kid). Well-known books by Grossman include Look Under: Love (1986), Tamar's Voice (YA novel, 2000), and Someone to Run With (2009).
Interviewer Lex Bohlmeijer can be heard in radio programmes such as "Casa Luna" and "Diskotabel," and he writes for De Correspondent online newspaper. In English.