(Nigeria, 1974), a writer and literary scholar, lived in Belgium for years and moved to the US in 2013 where she teaches Creative Writing at the University of Georgia. Besides novels she also writes poetry, children's books, educational books and short stories. In 2005 she debuted as a novelist with De feniks (The Phoenix), a portrait of a young Nigerian in Belgium who struggles with feelings of depression and uprooting after the death of her five-year-old son. This was followed by the novels On Black Sisters' Street (2011, the original version in Dutch was published as Fata Morgana in 2008) about four Nigerian women who end up as sex workers in Antwerp, Nachtdanser (Night Dancer, 2011) and De zwarte messias (The Black Messiah, 2013). In 2019, her collection of short stories Better Never than Late, about the unusual lives and relationships of a group of Nigerian immigrants making their way in Belgium, appeared. Her new novel The Middle Daughter will be published in April 2023.(WN 2023)
Archive available for: Chika Unigwe
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.
'Come to me, my language, come back', Derek Walcott wrote. How does it feel to write in another language than your own? Does this new language also become the language in which you dream? Asis Aynan presents Ahmad Al Malik, Rodaan Al Galidi, Raj Mohan and Chika Unigwe, who will share their experiences. With musical accompaniment by guitarist Lourens van Haaften. In Dutch.
In the square in front of the theatre there is De Kas. The whole evening Jeroen van Kan talks with writers at the festival for the VPRO radio programme De Avonden Live. Visitors are allowed to peek freely and listen in. In Dutch and English.
21.17: Bernice Chauly
21.35: Ghalia Benali
22.05: Bejan Matur
22.15: Rodaan Al Galidi and Chika Unigwe
22.35: Nazmiye Oral and Kader Abdolah