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Christine Otten

Christine Otten - foto Fjodor Buis
Christine Otten - foto Fjodor Buis

(Deventer, NL, 1961) is a writer, performer and theatre producer. Her 2004 breakthrough came with De laatste dichters (The Last Poets), nominated for the Libris Literature Prize. This novel about the lives of four black Americans who became famous as "The Last Poets" was adapted for theatre. In her 2014 novel Rafael she tells the story of pregnant hairdresser Winny from Brabant and Tunesian Nizar, who become separated because of the war. We hadden liefde, we hadden wapens (We Had Love, We Had Weapons), Otten's swirling 2016 novel, is about the life of the black citizen's rights activist Robert F. Williams in America, and about taking a stand for the right to be who you are, regardless of the consequences. Starting in 2017, a musical theatre version of the book will tour the Netherlands.

(WU 2017)

Archive available for: Christine Otten

  • 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.

    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 2017 – Friday Night Unlimited

    This Is Not America (part 1)

    A late-night show about the United States of America that touches on many issues, from the shrinking middle class to the differences between whites and blacks, from hopeful new immigrants to the embittered white underclass. The America of the supporters of Donald Trump. A discussion between bestselling US author Colson Whitehead, Bolivian author Rodrigo Hasbún, Dutch writer Christine Otten and Anglo-Dutch writer Ian Buruma about America in the era of president Trump. Stephan Sanders moderates the conversation and Spoken Beat Night adds a jazzy musical interpretation of the American story.

  • Winternachten 2017 – Saturday Night Unlimited

    The Tale of Two Cities

    Four writers, eight cities. In The tale of Two Cities, writers for whom "the city" has more than one face have their say. Dutch sociologist Corina Duijndam lived among disadvantaged youth in the suburbs of Paris and Amsterdam; Ibrahim Piotr Kalwas knows his birth city Warsaw like the back of his hand and his chosen home of Alexandria (Egypt) like the back of his other hand; Ilja Leonard Pfeiffer once swore by Leiden but is now stuck on Genoa (Italy); and Israel's Dorit Rabinyan jumps back and forth between New York, Tel Aviv (Israel) and Ramallah (Palestine) in her novel about impossible love between an Israeli and a Palestinian. Moderator: Christine Otten.

  • Winternachten 2013 – Winternacht 1 - schrijvers, muziek en film op vijf podia

    VPRO De Avonden Live: Christine Otten and Manon Uphoff

    Interviews with writers for the VPRO radio programme De Avonden Live.  In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2013 – Winternacht 2 - schrijvers, muziek en film op vijf podia

    The Third Chamber of Parliament

    Third Chamber chair Ruben Maes invites you to debate, interrupt, and introduce amendments. Bring true democracy closer. Even if it is just for one evening. Five guests will spark off the debate: philosopher Maxim Februari opens with a column on the notion of citizen. Then cultural historian Thomas von der Dunk, journalist Paul van der Gaag and writers Christine Otten and David Van Reybrouck enter into a discussion with you, the audience. In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2013 – Winternacht 1 - schrijvers, muziek en film op vijf podia

    What I would give my life for

    Four writers were inspired by a confronting question: who or what would I give my life for? Four writers, four pleas for a cause which sets them on fire. As surprising as moving: the stories and songs of inspired writers and storytellers. In Dutch.

  • Antjie Krog Sestig

    Antjie Krog Sestig

    With: Ad Zuiderent, Adriaan van Dis, Anne Vegter, Antjie Krog, Anton Korteweg, Bas Kwakman, Christine Otten, Hester Knibbe, Ineke Holzhaus, Jan Baeke, Jan Klug, Jan van der Haar, K. Michel, Liesbeth Lagemaat, Mark Boog, Peter Swanborn, Raj Mohan, Rob Schouten, Robert Dorsman, Rodaan Al Galidi, Tom Lanoye, Tsead Bruinja

    Dutch poets honoured the South-African poet and writer Antjie Krog. She celebrated her 60th birthday in The Hague. A festive evening, where Antjie Krog presented the audience her favourite poems in Afrikaans. Writers Adriaan van Dis interviewed her on the position of the Afrikaans poet in South-Afrika. Numerous Dutch poets read their poems for Antjie.

  • Ronelda S. Kamfer en Christine Otten

    Ronelda S. Kamfer and Christine Otten

    With: Christine Otten, Jeroen van Kan, Ronelda S. Kamfer

    Ronelda S. Kamfer is one of the most exciting young South-African poets. She will perform and speak with the Dutch writer Christine Otten.

    Kamfer grew up in Cape Town. She studied at the University of Western Cape with the well known writer Antjie Krog. For her first collection of poems 'Noudat Slapende Honde' (2008) she was awarded the prestigious Eugene Marais Prize. In 2010 she was introduced to the Dutch audience at the Writers Unlimited festival. Her performance was a sensation. All copies of her books were sold instantatiously. Her new collection, 'Santenkraam', was published this month in Dutch translation at Podium publishing house.

    During this evening in Writers Unlimited The Series, she will talk to writer, performer and journalist Christine Otten. In her work she shows affinity with the South-African poet: 'Ronelda S. Kamfer converts the raw dayly reality of South-Africa into crystal clear poetry, that leaves the reader speechless.' Otten is known by her novels 'The Last Poets'(2006), 'In Wonderland' (2010) and 'Als Casablanca' (2008). With Writers Unlimited she tourned to South-Africa, and performed at festivals in Durban and Cape Town.

    The talk between Kamfer and Otten will be moderated by the radio- and televisionpresentor Jeroen van Kan (VPRO De Avonden).

  • Winternachten 2010 – Winternachten 2

    Big Brother visiting

    Christine Otten and Antjie Krog had disorder literally hovering on their doorstep. They discovered that independently of each other they had written books with an almost identical scene, a police raid on their homes. Both raids took place on wrongful suspicions of terrorist or terrorism related practices in the 1990s. The affair in Otten's novel goes back to a terrorist action by RARA in the Netherlands; in Krog's nonfiction book it's about an ANC murder in South Africa. In "Big Brother Visiting", Wim Brands asks both writers to compare their books and place them in time. Is it coincidental that they both write on how the personal life of their characters, and thereby there own freedom, is violated? Is it a coincidence that they write about these matters after 9/11?

  • Winternachten 2006 – WINTERNACHT 1

    The remake of Uncle Tom's cabin

    "Aha, you must be the lady who started the civil war and has abolished slavery", said president Lincoln at the time to Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's cabin. Can literature have such an important role? When history has overtaken fiction, as is the case in this novel, must a novel be adapted to make it more relevant? Writers Frank Martinus Arion, Vamba Sherif and Christine Otten attempt this. They rewrite parts of Uncle Tom's cabin and explain why their version is better suited to the modern reader than the original. Panel chairman is Pieter Steinz. Dutch spoken.

  • Zuid-Afrika 2004

    Tradewinds/Passaatwinde - Cape Town

    With: Christine Otten, Drisana Deborah Jack, Jan Klug, Jit Narain, Sutardji Calzoum Bachri

    In Kaapstad werkt Winternachten samen met het festival Tradewinds/Passaatwinde, georganiseerd door schrijfster Antjie Krog en producent Ben Willliams. Net als bij Winternachten in Den Haag komen in Tradewinds/Passaatwinde schrijvers, dichters en musici samen uit de hele wereld, maar met name uit de landen die een historische koloniale band met Nederland hebben. Het festival biedt film, muziek, voordrachten en debatten.

    Het hoofdprogramma vindt plaats in het Labia Theatre, een art-deco 'filmhuis' in het centrum van de stad. Daarnaast legt Tradewinds/Passaatwinde met optredens buiten de stad verbindingen met de vele verschillende gemeenschappen in de Kaapse regio. Het thema dit jaar is 'Poetry Junction': dichters en andere kunstenaars geven verschillende visies op tien jaar democratie in Zuid-Afrika.

    Van zondag 24 tot woensdag 27 oktober reizen de dichters rond in de Kaap en treden ze op in culturele centra, bibiotheken en universiteiten. Op donderdag 28 en vrijdag 29 oktober zijn er optredens in het Labia Theatre.

    De deelnemende schrijvers en dichters: Sutardji Calzoum Bachri (Indonesie), Regina Beregho (Zuid-Afrika), Breedevallei Digters (uit Worcester, Zuid-Afrika), Chirikure Chirikure (Zimbabwe), Ingrid de Kok (Zuid-Afrika), Drisana Deborah Jack (Sint Maarten), Estella Kambina (Zuid-Afrika) Mzwakhe Mbuli (Zuid-Afrika), Petra Muller (Zuid-Afrika), Jit Narain (Suriname), Christine Otten (Nederland), Alfred Schaffer (Nederland/Zuid-Afrika) en Bulelani Zantsi (Zuid-Afrika). Deelnemende musici: Jan Klug (Nederland), Chiwoniso Maraire (Zimbabwe) en Karen Zoid & Band (Zuid-Afrika).
    Daarnaast neemt de schrijfster Nurridin Farah (Somalië) deel in een discussieprogramma en treden op als gespreksleiders en presentatoren Miki Flockemann (Zuid-Afrika), Alfred Schaffer (Nederland/Zuid-Afrika) en Harry Garuba (Zuid-Afrika).

    Maandag 25 Oktober, avond: Poetry Junction in Montagu
    Woensdag 27 Oktober: Poetry Caravan: Atlantis, Delft + Brown's Farm, Athlone, City Centre libraries
    Donderdag 28 Oktober: Poetry Junction en Poetry Slam - University of the Western Cape
    Donderdag 28 oktober, 20.00-22.00 uur: Preview evening, Labia Theatre, Orange Street, Kaapstad.
    Vrijdag 29 oktober, 20.00 uur: "Main evening" in het Labia Theatre, Kaapstad.

  • Zuid-Afrika 2004

    Poetry Africa - Durban

    With: Christine Otten, Drisana Deborah Jack, Jan Klug, Jit Narain, Sutardji Calzoum Bachri

    Poetry Africa in Durban geldt als een van de belangrijkste poëziefestivals van Afrika. Zes dagen lang treden meer dan dertig dichters en muziekgroepen uit twaalf landen op. Het programma omvat voordrachten, seminars, workshops, poëzie-schrijfwedstrijden en speciale optredens in scholen en in gevangenissen.

    Namens Winternachten treden dichters op uit Indonesië, Suriname, Sint Maarten en Nederland. In een programma op donderdag 21 oktober in het Elisabeth Sneddon Theatre staat deze 'Dutch Connection' centraal. Elk van de dichters draagt voor uit zijn werk, en wordt geïntroduceerd door de bekende Zuid-Afrikaanse stand-up comedian Soli Philander. Philander is ook voor het Nederlandse publiek een bekende. Hij trad twee keer op tijdens Winternachten in Den Haag.

    Poetry Afrika opent op maandagavond in het Elisabeth Sneddon Theatre met een serie korte optredens van alle participerende dichters: Sutardji Calzoum Bachri (Indonesië), The Botsotso Jesters (Zuid-Afrika), Feel A Sistah!, een 'Spoken Word Collective' uit Zuid-Afrika met Lebo Mashile, Myesha Jenkins, Napo Masheane en Ntsiki Mazwai, Dorian Haarhof (Zuid-Afrika), Joy Harjo (USA), Drisana Deborah Jack (Sint Maarten), Were Were Liking (Kameroen/Ivoorkust), Mazwakhe Mbuli (Zuid-Afrika), Kobus Moolman (Zuid-Afrika), Richard Murphy (Ierland), Nowadayz Poets (Zuid-Afrika), Jit Narain (Suriname), Albert Nyathi (Zimbabwe), Christine Otten (Nederland), Karen Press (Zuid-Afrika), Baralong Seboni (Botswana), Tumi (Zuid-Afrika) en Christian Uetz (Zwitserland).

    Tijdens Poetry Africa beleeft de documentaire van John Albert Jansen over de Surinaamse dichter Jit Narain zijn première in de Engelstalige versie 'Ashes of Memory'.

    Meer informatie over Poetry Africa is hier te vinden.

  • Winternachten 2004 – WINTERNACHT 2

    The seers - poetic visions

    Climbers of mount Olympus, romantic idealists, Doktor Spocks and bungyjumpers to hell, write themselves a poetic road to the future. Four poets and their vision: Pieter Boskma, Ruben of Gogh, Astrid Lampe and Christine Otten were commissioned by Winternachten to write a visionary poem. They recite their poems and discuss it with Joris van Casteren. Christine Otten is accompanied by saxophone player Jan Klug.

  • Winternachten 2003

    My National Anthem

    With: Christine Otten, Geert van Istendael, Gibi Bacilio, Jaap Blonk, Kader Abdolah, Michaël Zeeman, Theodor Holman

    Holland is no longer the country it used to be. Are we ready for a new national anthem? Six writers and poets from The Netherlands and abroad present their personal alternative on this afternoon.

    Writer/commentator Theodor Holman, Gibi Bacilio from Curaçao, writer and rap-poet Christine Otten, Kader Abdolah and the Flemish writer Geert van Istendael sang their new national anthems for our country. Michaël Zeeman talked to the writers and poets in an effort to reinvent the nation. Dutch spoken.

    On this page, you can listen to the sound recordings.

  • Tournee NL 2003

    Winternachten Bijlmer

    With: Christine Otten, Cynthia Mc Leod, Gibi Bacilio, Marylin Simons, Nicole Terborg

    No better poet and performer than Gibi Bacilio from Curaçao. He performs together with the Surinamese writer Marylin Simons, winner of the Kwakoe literature prize, Cynthia McLeod from Suriname and the Dutch novelist and rapping poet Christine Otten. Moderated by Nicole Terborg. Dutch spoken. An evening organised in co-operation with Krater Theater Bijlmer (

    Tickets: 020 6952911