(1985), writer, theatre maker, columnist, wrote her debut novel (2018) with Keizer, about a celebrated Amsterdam theatre director who meets his Nemesis in New York. In 2020, she published her novella De Stilte (The Silence). She has a regular Saturday column in Dutch national daily newspaper NRC. Her columns from the past eight years will be collected under the title Geef je over (Surrender) and will be released in February 2024. In December, a play she wrote premieres with Orkater, titled En ze maakte een kind (And She Made a Child). She is working on a new novel.(WU2024)
Archive available for: Sarah Sluimer
One of the things that distinguishes humans from machines is that humans have a body. A body that can experience pleasant sensations as well as pain. The body is our initial calling card to the outside world, an outer shell that is seen by others, judged and pigeonholed. Writers Aminatta Forna, Anne Boyer and Celeste Ng discuss this matter and read from their work. Writer and journalist Sarah Sluimer moderates.
Aminatta Forna (UK) is the daughter of a Sierra Leonian father and a Scottish mother. The question of how the horrors of war are remembered years after the fact is central to her work. Forna spent her youth partly in Sierra Leone, where her politician father was accused of treason and hanged. She writes about these events in her 2003 autobiography The Devil that Danced on the Water.
Before this debut, she worked as a reporter and documentarian at the BBC, where her probing reportages about Africa stood out in particular. In the 2006 autobiography Ancestor Stones she gives the word to her Sierra Leonian aunts, and in the 2013 novel The Memory of Love, a London psychiatrist in Freetown recognizes that everyone suffers from post-traumatic stress but no one talks about their experiences. In 2013's The Hired Man, Forna brilliantly depicts the fermenting tension in post-war Croatia.
Celeste Ng (USA) visits The Netherlands for the first time for the 2024 Writers Unlimited festival. Her three novels are true page-turners; currently she is the internationally most-read author with Asian roots. Her debut novel Everything I Never Told You (2014) is a sensitive portait of a family with several cultures. Little Fires Everywhere (2017), an even bigger bestseller, was turned into a film with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington (available on Prime).
Her third novel Our Missing Hearts (2022) takes on the love between mother and child, discrimination against people with Asian roots, and humanity in dark times. Ng grew up in Pittsburgh and Shaker Heights (Ohio) and studied at Harvard. Her stories and essays have appeared in publications such as The New York Times and The Guardian.
Poet and essayist Anne Boyer (USA) won a Pulitzer Prize for The Undying (2019), a mediation about cancer, caregiving and what it means to be ill during the "information dream", our data-drenched era. "Boyer writes in an unadorned and incisive way about (her) cancer and the cancer industry." (Trouw)
Festival tip: Celeste Ng and Aminatta Forna will also appear during Opening Night (Thursday, 18 January) and Saturday Night Unlimited (Saturday, 20 January). Anne Boyer can also be seen and heard during the poetry and spoken-word event People Say Things x Writers Unlimited Festival at Paard on Thursday, 18 January, as well as on Saturday, 20 January in the poetry event Garbage In, Garbage Out during Saturday Night Unlimited.
We give extra attention to the human voice during this festival edition with the theme "Human Voices". We asked Connie Palmen to write a new essay for Between Body and Soul and to open Saturday Night Unlimited with it.
In her keynote speech, Palmen speaks about how an author gives voice to characters. The voice is the meeting point between body and soul, where interior and exterior meet. A novel begins to come alive through the voice of the character.
This theme is the subject of the following discussion between Palmen, Celeste Ng and Sacha Bronwasser, who published the novel Luister (Listen) this year. Writer and journalist Sarah Sluimer moderates.
Connie Palmen is the author of essays, stories, a novella, and her six great, award-winning novels, including I.M. and Jij zegt het (If You Say So). Recently she published Voornamelijk vrouwen (Mostly Women), a collection of personal essays about how eleven famous and headstrong women and one man give shape to their own lives.
Sacha Bronwasser is a writer and art historian. For twenty years, she was the fine art critic for the Volkskrant newspaper. Her debut novel Niets is gelogen (Nothing is a Lie, 2019) was followed in 2023 by Luister (Listen), an ingeniously written and riveting novel set in the eighties nad now.
Celeste Ng (USA), internationally one of the most-read authors with Asian roots, wrote three true page-turners. Her debut novel, Everything I Never Told You (2014), is a sensitive portrait of a family with several cultures. An even bigger bestseller, Little Fires Everywhere, was turned into a film with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. Her third novel, Our Missing Hearts (2022), takes on the love between mother and child, discrimination of people with Asian roots, and humanity in dark times.
Festival tip: Celeste Ng also appears during Friday Night Unlimited (19 January). Connie Palmen appears on Saturday afternoon, 20 January in conversation with artist Sven Ratzke in the event Showbizz Voices about their collaboration on his new show Marlene, from which he will perform an excerpt.
Are we dealing with stubbornly clinging myths about colonial times? Writers Reggie Baay, Cynthia McLeod and Johan Fretz discuss colonial myths under the guidance of moderator Sarah Sluimer, with an introductory reading by Nelleke Noordervliet.
The romantic idea lives on that the Netherlands introduced civilization and welfare as a colonizer. But wasn't something specific taken away before that, namely spices and raw materials, at the cost of the local population? Do these myths manifest themselves only in our thoughts or do they also creep into our literature? Have we learned from our history?