Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
(USA, 1991) is seen as an important new voice in American literature: that of new black surrealism. His debut collection Friday Black won many prizes and is a raw, surrealist and partly satirical book with twelve short stories that denounce the excesses of racism and today's consumer society. Five unarmed black teenagers are murdered in cold blood by a white family man who feels "threatened" by them - and who is acquitted; an amusement park employee does his makeup for yet another day as scapegoat and target of the racist fantasies of the mostly white visitors; and a salesperson in a shopping mall prepares for the Black Friday sales and the expected hordes of zombie-like, violent bargain hunters. Adjei-Brenyah's stories are extreme and disturbing, but at the same time sketch a nearly-here future and show how people desperately want to belong to a society, but that this society is not ready to accept just anyone. A Dutch translation with the same title was published in 2019.(WN 2022)
Archive available for: Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
A literary relay with Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Neske Beks, Aafke Romeijn, Rebecca Solnit (online), Robin Block, Pola Oloixarac et al.
Whose House is This? is Winternachten 2022's festival theme. In this event, we presented an exciting relay of readings and music, in which our festival authors put their own spin on the theme. Together they breathed new life into the house of family, society and literature.
All angles of the four-day Winternachten Festival were covered in Whose House is This? during a colourful parade of authors and performers. Various voices gave completely different answers to the great question underlying the festival. We listened to stories about being at home, to critical stories about the institutions to which we are subject, to cozy stories built on a solid foundation, and much more.
Author and artist Neske Beks got her teeth into our theme (and the question is what was left over); author Pola Oloixarac let us in on the fun of Mona, a parody of the literary world; multitalent Aafke Romeijn treated us to music; and writer and activist Rebecca Solnit (Men Explain Things to Me) came home to us on the podium all the way from the United States.
Following up on the festival theme Whose House is This?, in A Book to Come Home to we asked one festival author the following question: which book brought you home? The answers could go in all directions. Perhaps the author chose a book that describes a house that feels like his/her own home, or a place where he/she wishes to live. But it could also be a book whose style of writing or manner of thinking makes the author feel at home. Or it could be the relief of finally reading a story in which the protagonist reflects his/her appearance. The program was a peek into the bookshelves as well as the soul of each author.
Sayonara Stutgard interviewed Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah who chose and spoke about Pastoralia by George Saunders.
Despite their popularity with readers, fantasy and science fiction remain on the margins, even though these imaginative and expressive genres enrich and elevate literature. Usually, little attention is paid to speculative fiction at literary festivals. Time for change! During this Winternachten Festival (theme: Whose House is This?) we not only approached the idea of "house" in a traditional sense, but also made room for stories in which Earth no longer suffices as house or home.
In today's world, we could easily picture a house, or an inhabitant. We recognized our forms of cohabitation and communication. But how will we live together in 2060? What does a house look like in another dimension, and how would people speak to each other there? And what if Earth no longer provides a "home" - where will we find a new one? And what if someone else is already living there? For Moving into Space, we talked to authors who think outside the borders of our current ideas of what constitutes a house. We celebrated the diversity and creativity of speculative fiction. And in the process we encountered a new world where we can feel at home.
"Anthropologist of the future" Roanne van Vorst took on the house of the future, while poet and performer Robin Block, a great science-fiction fan, offered an ode to the genre. In his beautiful and poignant work, American author Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah reminds us that the future can be a whimsical place. Moving into Space showed why speculative fiction is also eminently political, and why precisely this genre is so important for the future of literature. We explored the present and the past but especially the future - we followed dimensional paths and interplanetary avenues...
The evening was concluded by the great band N3RDISTAN, known for their mythical electronic tunes, N3rdistan created a compelling poetic fusion that was serene and unsual. We danced into the future!
Reading tips to get in the mood (by event authors):
- Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
- In Between, Di Antara by Robin Block
- Met zijn zessen in bed by Roanne van Voorst
Want to read more? These speculative works inspired our event programmers Fleur Jeras and Nisrine Mbarki:
- The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories by Amal El-Mothar et al.
- Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
- Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
- Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
- Lilith's Brood by Octavia Butler
- Popisho by Leone Ross