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Shantie Singh

Shantie Singh - foto Patricia Borger
Shantie Singh - foto Patricia Borger

(The Netherlands, 1982) debuted in 2014 with Vervoering (Rapture), a family chronicle of four generations of Hindustanis. In 1912, eighteen-year-old Ramdew Rajput travels from India to Suriname, where he ends up as a labourer on a sugar plantation. Despite repression, the overseers cannot knuckle under this charismatic young man. De kier (The Crack, 2020) is both an engaged novel and a love story in which a young civil servant wants to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable women invisible to the outside world. Singh studied at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the city in which she works as a public administrator. Singh is part of the writers' collective Fixdit, which aims to raise awareness of gender inequality in literature. In the fall of 2023 she will publish her book Na de komma, Hindoestaans perspectief op slavernijverleden (After the Comma, Hindustani Perspectives on the History of Slavery).

(WU2024)

Archive available for: Shantie Singh

  • Writers Unlimited 2024 – Friday Night Unlimited

    Warriors! Heroes from Suriname and the Caribbean

    Warriors! is an ode in spoken word, music, dance and stories to people from Suriname and the Caribbean who risked their lives to fight for freedom. Heroes from our colonial past that resisted oppression and a lack of freedom. Stories that were previously ignored, made invisible or hidden away. Now, more than 150 years after the abolition of slavery, many stories are emerging, but there also remain many stories that must be told about warriors from the past and warriors of the present.

    Gershwin Bonevacia, Dean Bowen, Julien Ignacio, Raj Mohan and OTION - Master of Sceneries presented their own work. In a conversation with presenter Shantie Singh, Karin Amatmoekrim talked about the writer Anil Ramdas, about whom she recently published the biography In wat voor land leef ik eigenlijk? (What Kind of Country Do I Live In, Anyway?).

    Tip: Shantie Singh also created Her (s)tories, a theatrical ode to women in Hindustani migration history, which was performed on Friday 12 January 2024 at Theater aan het Spui, The Hague.

  • Writers Unlimited 2024 – Friday Night Unlimited

    Where to Belong

    Where do we belong? One of the most fundamental questions of humanity. A question writers have been asking themselves for years. The many different answers to this are an important part of our literature and heritage.

    We found the perfect authors to reflect on this big question: Alejandra Ortiz and Aminatta Forna. Where to Belong is a theme that returns in various ways in their publications, books and essays, and touches on important themes such as identity, gender and migration.

    Alejandra Ortiz and Aminatta Forna wrote down their thoughts on this subject in advance and presented their stories during the event. An interactive talk followed, led by host Shantie Singh.

  • Na de komma, contractarbeid in Suriname en Mauritius

    Na de komma - Shantie Singh in conversation with Vinod Busjeet

    With: Raj Mohan, Shantie Singh, Vinod Busjeet

    In this episode of the Writers Series, Shantie Singh speaks with Vinod Busjeet about the impact of indentured labour on present times. Poet and musician Raj Mohan will perform a selection of his works. All are descendants of Indian indentured laborers and grew up amidst different traditions. Which ones do you pass on to the next generation, and which ones do you reject?

    Busjeet's debut novel Silent Winds, Dry Seas (2021) was recently published in Dutch translation as Stille winden, droge zeeën. Singh publishes her book Na de komma: Hindostanen en de erfenis van het kolonialisme (After the comma: Hindostani and the legacy of colonialism) late November 2023.

    The conversation in this Writers Series-event will be in English.

    With apologies for the slavery past, the Dutch government put a comma, not a full stop. 150 years ago, slavery was abolished in Suriname, but immediately, the recruitment of indentured laborers from British India began as a replacement to keep the plantations running in Suriname, and (here less known) also in Mauritius. The colonial mentality persisted. Slavery had been abolished, but the abuses continued.

    Shantie Singh (1982) is a writer, presenter/facilitator, program creator, theater maker, women's rights activist, and creative public administrator, also known as a 'glambtenaar' at the Rotterdam municipality. Shantie was born in Almelo; her parents come from Suriname, and her ancestors are from India. She has been living in Rotterdam since 2006. She is also a storytelling fashionista. With her novel Vervoering, she wrote a family chronicle spanning four generations dispersed over three continents in the countries of India, Suriname, and the Netherlands within a hundred years. In 2023, her book Na de komma (publisher De Geus) will be published, a passionate and personal plea for more recognition and visibility of the Hindustani story in the Netherlands. Na de komma will be published end of 2023. This book will be available for pre-order during this Writers Series.

    Vinod Busjeet was born in Mauritius and lives in Washington DC. He was long active in the world of economic development, international finance, and diplomacy, with roles at the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation. Previously, he worked as a teacher at a high school in Mauritius. He grew up with different traditions: Indian, French, Creole, and Chinese. His debut novel, Silent Winds, Dry Seas(2021) tells the story of a descendant of British Indian indentured laborers who were transferred to Mauritius after the abolition of slavery. This island was first colonized by the Dutch; then it came under French and subsequently British control. It gained independence 55 years ago.

    The conversations in this (English spoken) Writers Series-event will be interspersed with performances by poet and musician Raj Mohan, who in 2008 published his first poetry collection Bapauti / Erfenis, an exploration of the songs from his album Kantráki / Contractarbeider. He plays and sings compositions based on his own lyrics and contemporary Urdu poets' poems in the (semi) classical North Indian tradition.

    This Writers Series program is in English.
    After the event, there will be a book sale by De Vries Van Stockum, along with an opportunity for book signing.
    Programme presented and curated by Shantie Singh (Writers Unlimited)

    Writers Series: Shantie Singh in conversation with Vinod Busjeet
    Wednesday, November 8th, 2023, 8:30 PM - 10:00 PM Central Library Podium B, Spui 68, 2511 BT The Hague

    Writers Unlimited organises the Writers Unlimited International Literature Festival The Hague every year in January (2024 dates: 18-21 January) and monthly Writers Series programmes throughout the year at various locations in The Hague, including the Central Public Library (Centrale Bibliotheek) The Hague. The festival, featuring more than 100 writers, poets, spoken word artists and musicians from the Netherlands and abroad, will take place over four days at venues including Theater aan het Spui, Filmhuis Den Haag, Paard, Koninklijke Schouwburg, neighbourhood libraries, Hague universities and secondary schools.

  • Jan Brokken en Ellen Deckwitz

    De kampschilders - Ellen Deckwitz in conversation with Jan Brokken

    With: Ellen Deckwitz, Jan Brokken, Robin Block, Shantie Singh

    In his latest book De kampschilders (The Camp Painters, published by Atlas Contact), Jan Brokken weaves together the story of his parents, Han and Olga, with that of prominent artists from Bali, Willem and Maria Hofker, and Rudolf Bonnet, who ended up in the same Japanese internment camps in colonial Dutch East Indies during World War II, alongside Brokken's parents.
    In the midst of the camp's hardships, these artists depicted their fellow prisoners and managed to create beauty in those circumstances. Brokken not only portrays life in the camp but also delves into the pre-war artist community in Bali and explores how the trauma from the camp continued to affect his parents' lives after the war. This impactful book, illustrated with work by Bonnet and the Hofkers, has been well-received and was longlisted for the Libris Geschiedenis Prijs and for the Boekenbon Literatuurprijs.

    Writer and poet Ellen Deckwitz's grandmother, who had Indonesian roots, was also held in Japanese internment camps. Following her grandmother's passing, Deckwitz realized she was the only family member who had learned her life story. Her poetry collection Hogere natuurkunde (Higher Physics, published by Pluim) emerged from conversations with individuals of Indonesian heritage. The collection combines elements of travel narratives, mythology, and testimonies. Deckwitz was awarded the E. du Perron Prize for this work, and it was acclaimed by publications like Trouw, de Standaard, and NRC as the best book of the year.

    Writers Unlimited brought together these two acclaimed Dutch authors for a conversation. They explored the role of art in the history of the Dutch East Indies and discussed what motivated them to transform these historical events into art. They shared their creative processes, offering insights into their journeys through the past. Additionally, both authors read from their impressive works, which are characterized by depth and imagination.

    Poet and musician Robin Block participated in this program with poetic and musical performances. He published Handleiding voor ontheemden (Guide for the Displaced. 2023), a poetic exploration of Block's family roots in Indonesia. His work resides at the intersection of language, music, and performance. Block often writes poetry about the shared history of the Netherlands and Indonesia, as well as themes of displacement and belonging, as experienced by individuals with a colonial family history, a migration background, or an upbringing in diverse families and cultures.

    This Writers Series program was in Dutch.
    After the event: book sale by De Vries Van Stockum, along with an opportunity for book signing.
    Programme presented and curated by Shantie Singh (Writers Unlimited)

    Writers Series: Ellen Deckwitz in conversation with Jan Brokken
    Wednesday, October 11, 2023, 8:30 PM - 10:00 PM Central Library Podium B, Spui 68, 2511 BT The Hague

    Writers Unlimited organises the Writers Unlimited International Literature Festival The Hague every year in January (2024 dates: 18-21 January) and monthly Writers Series programmes throughout the year at various locations in The Hague, including the Central Public Library (Centrale Bibliotheek) The Hague. The festival, featuring more than 100 writers, poets, spoken word artists and musicians from the Netherlands and abroad, will take place over four days at venues including Theater aan het Spui, Filmhuis Den Haag, Paard, Koninklijke Schouwburg, neighbourhood libraries, Hague universities and secondary schools.

  • Winternachten 2023

    All the World's Excuses

    With: Angel ArunA, Astrid H. Roemer, Caleb Azumah Nelson, Chika Unigwe, David Diop, Dean Bowen, Martine Woudt, Nazrina Rodjan, Neske Beks, Rachida Lamrabet, Radna Fabias, Sarita Bajnath, Shantie Singh

    In the Winternachten festival programme All the World's Excuses, prominent authors Chika Unigwe (US, a.o. On Black Sisters' Street), David Diop (France, International Booker Prize-winner for At Night All Blood is Black) and Caleb Azumah Nelson (UK, a.o. the well-received debut novel Open Water) talked about the global traces of slavery and how this permeates our current society, literature and their books. They addressed (post)colonialism, migration and identity formation. And, of course, they read from their own work. Interviewers were Rachida Lamrabet and Dean Bowen.

    Furthermore, writer Neske Beks told about how her new book De kleine Morrison (The Small Morrison, 2023), an introduction into reading Toni Morrison's books from a Black perspective, relates to the theme of All the World's Excuses, and if that also applies to Dutch or Flemish authors with roots in former colonies. Writer Astrid H. Roemer and poet Radna Fabias also contributed with readings from their work. Singer Angel ArunA performed her own work and poems by poet and singer-songwriter Raj Mohan in Sarnámi, the language of people with a Hindustan background in Suriname and The Netherlands.

    Preceding the performances in Zaal 1, we opened the evening programme in the lobby of Theater aan het Spui with a short pre-programme with readings by writer Chika Unigwe and poet Dean Bowen from their works, hosted by Sarita Bajnath.

    All the World's Excuses asked questions about how stories about slavery and its abolition have taken their place in our collective memory, and about what authors pass on to young people searching for their (invisible) story and identity in the country where they were born.

    On all continents, stories about these subjects went unheard, were suppressed or were rendered invisible for a long time. Thanks to the talent and work of many authors, these stories have since found a home in world literature. Through this literature, the weight of this history and the importance of sharing these stories is made palpable.
    Bookstore De Vries van Stockum was present in the lobby with a stand offering books by participating authors of this programme, among others!

    This programme was curated by Shantie Singh, author of a.o. the novels Vervoering (2014) and De kier (2020).

    This event was in English; translations of non-English readings were simultaneously projected on a screen.

    With day ticket also to afternoon programme Verhalen die verbinden (Connecting Stories)
    Preceding All the World's Excuses on Sunday 16 April as of 14:30h in Theater aan het Spui was the, Dutch spoken, Winternachten festival afternoon programme Verhalen die verbinden. A reduced price day ticket for both festival programmes on 16 April was available.

  • Winternachten 2023

    Verhalen die verbinden (Connecting Stories)

    With: Angel ArunA, Arturo den Hartog, Astrid H. Roemer, Babs Gons, Britney Lindo, Daphne Huisden, Fiep van Bodegom, Holland Baroque, Lucretia Starke, Maria Vlaar, Mariëlle Vavier, Nazrina Rodjan, Rabin Baldewsingh, Sarita Bajnath, Shantie Singh, Tessa Leuwsha

    Dark, forgotten and forbidden pages: it is taking a long time for the colonial history of the Netherlands to penetrate our collective memory. But history has many forms of transmitting lore, of which stories are the most powerful. They are passed from one continent to another, from generation to generation. And then, with great imagination and creativity, they are recorded in literature, music and language. In this way, the stories come to belong to everyone. This event was in Dutch.

    The Winternachten festival afternoon programme Verhalen die verbinden (Connecting Stories) explored Dutch colonial history in our literature, language and music. Prominent Surinamese authors Astrid H. Roemer and Tessa Leuwsha talked in conversations with respectively Maria Vlaar and Fiep van Bodegom about the significance of 150 years of abolition of slavery for them, their country, their relatives and their books. Both published new books in 2023: Astrid H. Roemer wrote the novel DealersDochter (Dealers' Daughter) and Tessa Leuwsha published her De wilde vaart: op zoek naar de veerkracht van Suriname (Tramp trade: the search for the resilience of Surinam).

    Author Babs Gons performed spoken word. Authors Tessa Leuwsha and Daphne Huisden read from their contributions to Dat wij zongen (What we sang), the essay collection in which twenty leading writers of today make a case for a Caribbean author of the past who inspired them personally. Mariëlle Vavier, deputy Mayor and alderman of the City of The Hague for Poverty, Inclusion and Public Health, gave a speech.

    Singer Angel ArunA performed her own work and poems by poet and singer-songwriter Raj Mohan in Sarnámi, the language of people with a Hindustan background in Suriname and The Netherlands. Furthermore soprano Lucretia Starke and countertenor Arturo den Hartog performed, accompanied by six musicians from ensemble Holland Baroque, with their version of Surinamese song Lolo mi boto, among others.

    The talks and performances in Zaal 1 were followed in the theatre foyer by a short post-programme hosted by Sarita Bajnath with contributions and readings by Britney Lindo, writer and spoken word artist, and by Rabin Baldewsingh, writer and, since 2021, National Coordinator against Discrimination, among others.

    Also the (English spoken ) evening programme All the World's Excuses on this Winternachten festival day 16 April, focused on the significance of 150 years abolition of slavery. All the World's Excuses took a wider perspective by inviting authors from various backgrounds to speak about the traces left by slavery, apartheid and colonialism in society, storytelling, language and literature: guests were Caleb Azumah Nelson (UK), David Diop (France), Chika Unigwe (USA), Astrid H. Roemer (Surinam), Neske Beks (Belgium) and Radna Fabias (Netherlands).

    Bookstore De Vries van Stockum was present in the lobby with a stand offering books by participating authors of this programme, among others — including signing opportunities!

    This programme was curated by Shantie Singh, author of a.o. the novels Vervoering (2014) and De kier (2020).

    With day ticket also to evening programme All the World's Excuses
    Verhalen die verbinden was followed on Sunday 16 April as of 19:30h in Theater aan het Spui by the, English spoken, Winternachten festival evening programme All the World's Excuses.
    A reduced price day ticket for both festival programmes on 16 April was available.

  • Optimistische woede

    Optimistische woede (Optimistical Anger)

    With: Annelies Verbeke, Christine Otten, Jannah Loontjens, Manon Uphoff, Rachida Lamrabet, Sanneke van Hassel, Shantie Singh


    In this Writers Series programme, writers' collective Fixdit, in collaboration with Writers Unlimited, celebrated the publication of the Fixdit manifesto Optimistische woede: fix het seksisme in de literatuur (Optimistic Rage: fix sexism in literature), a publication of De Geus, at Theater aan het Spui in The Hague.

    Optimistic rage
    Many people openly admit to barely reading books by women. Reading lists in schools are dominated by books by (white straight) men. Women win fewer literary prizes than men. Is that a bad thing? Yes, because it reflects and shapes relations in society.

    Eleven female writers are outraged by the unequal position of women in the arts, and united in the collective Fixdit. From alliance, they fight for change, in the literary world and in the canon. In the eleven pieces of this manifesto, they explore the problem in depth. Furious, combative, and above all: optimistic.

    Programme
    No fewer than eight of the eleven Fixdit authors read from their contributions to their joint manifesto: Sanneke van Hassel, Rachida Lamrabet, Jannah Loontjens, Christine Otten, Shantie Singh, Fleur Speet, Manon Uphoff and Annelies Verbeke. You probably read their books and met them in previous Writers Series programmes or at the Winternachten festival.

    The programme in Zaal 1 opened and closed with parts from Gregory Shaggy's urban dance performance (Y)our eyes only about the reality of young black men in Western society. With their own dreams, goals and talents, they try to make a name for themselves in a world where prejudice, racism, inequality and distorted images in the media are unfortunately still among today's problems. The men want to search for their own truths. They try to face personal blockages in order to ultimately follow their dreams.

    After the programme, we celebrated the book launch with bubbles and book signing at De Vries Van Stockum Boeken's book sales stand in the foyer. This book launch marked the start of a Fixdit tour along bookshops and literary venues throughout the Netherlands and Belgium.

    Fixdit consists of Yra van Dijk, Sanneke van Hassel, Rachida Lamrabet, Jannah Loontjens, Munganyende Hélène Christelle, Christine Otten, Gaea Schoeters, Shantie Singh, Fleur Speet, Manon Uphoff and Annelies Verbeke.

  • Winternachten 2022 – Friday Night Unlimited

    Home & Violence

    With Manon Uphoff, Shantie Singh, Sanneke van Hassel, Raoul de Jong, Müesser Yeniay, Margijn Bosch & Meltem Halaceli
    For whom is home actually home? What if your safest place isn't safe at all? Why does "domestic violence" sound like something "domestic" or even cozy? The theme Whose House is This? also requires us to discuss human violence within walls, war and peace under our own roofs, the unsafe interior world that so often remains hiden. Domestic violence, especially against women, is not a matter of isolated incidents but a societal problem. Or, like Manon Uphoff said in an interview: "They are shards that together form a mirror into which society needs to look."

    What does literature tell us about this great theme? We invited you to an initial exploration, a collage of literary texts about domestic violence. Manon Uphoff, Iris van Vliet, Shantie Singh and Sanneke van Hassel of the writers' collective Fixdit, together with Meltem Halaceli and Ellen Walraven of Winternachten, collected a large number of literary excerpts for this event.

    Writers Manon Uphoff, Sanneke van Hassel, Shantie Singh, Raoul de Jong, Müesser Yeniay, Meltem Halaceli and actor Margijn Bosch read these excerpts in an intimate setting, close to the public. We read works by and sometimes also with the actual authors:
    Elif Shafak, Manon Uphoff, Shantie Singh, Margaret Atwood, Rebecca Solnit, Alice Munro, Astrid Roemer, Philip Huff, A.M. Homes, Müesser Yeniay, Ronelda Kamfer and many more. And yes, this could be painful and confrontational. But this topic deserved a literary investigation and probe. What is going on in the various rooms of ever-changing houses in which it is not safe?

    Dutch spoken.

  • Winternachten 2015 – SATURDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    New Talent in the House!

    Five powerful new female stars in the literary firmament talk about their ultimate sense of being at home in specially written commentaries. Much-discussed debutante Nina Polak and her up-and-coming colleagues Bregje Hofstede, Mira Feticu, Roos van Rijswijk, and Shantie Singh appear in a varied program. Presented by Simone van Saarloos. In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2015 – SATURDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    Dancing into Saturday Night

    Dancing into the night with DJ Socrates. His incendiary Afro Beat and Tropical Funk, Reggae, sultry Cumbia grooves, and a dash of Electro Swing add up to a musical feast.