Winternachten Lecture - Tim Parks
'I have a problem with the growing internationalisation of literature,' the British writer Tim Parks recently argued in an interview with Bas Heijne in NRC Handelsblad. On Thursday 20 January 2011 he opened the Winternachten Festival.
'Writers don't aim at local situations and local issues, because an international audience isn't interested in them. That makes the literature change.' And that's what worries Parks. He fears that literature will deteriorate into an impersonal message for a readership of merely outsiders. 'When you read those kinds of books you don't have the feeling of looking in on someone else, of ending up in another culture. That makes a lot of literature superficial and untruthful.'
In his Winternachten Lecture Tim Parks elaborated on his disquieting observation. Because many questions remain to be answered. What choice do writers have? Do they have to restrict themselves to the same patterns? Are cultures still so isolated that this is the result? And what about writers who have become estranged and left behind their native soil and culture?
Abdelkader Benali talked to Parks after his lecture and put his views to David van Reybrouck, Maaza Mengiste and Elif Batuman.
This was the first evening in the festival, and the official opening. Before the lecture by Tim Parks, writer Nelleke Noordervliet, chairperson of the festival board, gave the opening speech