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Connie Palmen

Connie Palmen - foto: Fjodor Buis
Connie Palmen - foto: Fjodor Buis

(The Netherlands, 1955) is always exploring the boundaries between fact and fiction. She shot to fame with her first novel De wetten (The Laws, 1991). Her two subsequent novels, De vriendschap (Friendship, 1995) and I.M. (1998), also became bestsellers. She went on to publish Geheel de uwe (Sincerely Yours, 2004), Lucifer (2007) and Logboek van een onbarmhartig jaar (Logbook of a Merciless Year, 2011). Palmen has written several collections of essays, such as Een kleine filosofie van de moord (A Brief Philosophy of Murder, 2004), Het geluk van de eenzaamheid (The Joy of Loneliness, 2009) and Het drama van de afhankelijkheid (The Drama of Dependence, 2017). Many of her novels are based on events in her own life; her essays are exceptionally narrative. In 2023, she published Voornamelijk vrouwen (Mainly Women), personal essays about eleven women and one man who shape their lives in idiosyncratic ways. Palmen engages with them, challenges them, and discovers differences and similarities with her own life. Her multi-award-winning work is also internationally successful and has been translated into twenty languages.


Archive available for: Connie Palmen

  • Writers Unlimited 2024

    You Do Something to Me - Connie Palmen and Sven Ratzke on Marlene Dietrich

    With: Connie Palmen, Jetse de Jong, Roos van Rijswijk, Sven Ratzke

    Top author Connie Palmen and international star artist Sven Ratzke worked together on a theatre production about Marlene Dietrich. Palmen co-wrote the text and Ratzke interprets it in the show. They talked about their collaboration and about Dietrich, their collabprations, masculinity. femininity and gender in performace. Writer and journalist Roos van Rijswijk moderated the discussion.

    Sven performed some famous Dietrich songs, accompanied by his pianist Jetse de Jong: Illusions from the 1948 Billy Wilder film A Foreign Affair and, both from 1930, Wenn ich mir was wünschen dürfte and Falling in Love Again.

    Marlene can be seen in Dutch theatres as of 28 February 2024. A whirlwind musical theatre show about Dietrich the legend, the mysterious and glamorous film goddess, who had a second international career a chansonnière and then chose complete isolation for the last years of her life in her Parisian apartment. The show gives insight into the insanity, the showbiz and Marlene's memories, and culminates in her 1960 Berlin concert. Ratzke, known for productions such as the Rocky Horror Show, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and his famous one-man performances, embodies Marlene. Like no other, he is able to switch between genders and interpret the work of icons. Infused with wonderful music and framed by Palmen's texts and the costumes of Ian Griffiths (art direction by Max Mara), Marlene provides a glimpse into the soul of a world-famous legend.

    All her reading life, Connie Palmen has been mesmerised by female artistry. In her latest book Voornamelijk vrouwen (Mostly Women), she describes them: women like Marilyn Monroe, Marguerite Duras, Patricia Highsmith and Jane Bowles, who each in their own way crossed the boundaries of prevailing morality and their gender. The book is Palmen's literary paean to female creative power and autonomy. And it is, above all, an exploration of her own writing, reflecting all her literary themes.

    Festival tip: Palmen also took part in the grand festival evenings Friday Night Unlimited (19 January) and Saturday Night Unlimited (20 January)! On Friday evening, she and Annelies Verbeke talked about how writers speed up or slow down time in De vluchtige tijd; on Saturday evening, in The Voice - in search of the character's soul, she delivered a keynote speech about the voice of characters, and discussed this further with writers Sacha Bronwasser and Celeste Ng.

  • Writers Unlimited 2024 – Friday Night Unlimited

    Fleeting Time

    Time is the space in which life unfolds, but time is hard to get a grip on. Minutes can last for centuries and years seem like two seconds. What is time? Humans have little time; that is their tragedy. At the same time, the awareness of that limited time gives our lives depth and meaning. What philosophy may not be able to explain can be expressed through literature.

    As a writer, you can play with time and have the freedom to determine the chronology of the book, to speed up or slow down time. How does a writer compress a lifetime or a few centuries? Is a book a small time factory? Too many questions in too little time, but Connie Palmen and Annelies Verbeke answered them anyway! Moderator was writer and essayist Mira Feticu.

    Connie Palmen always seeks out the border between fact and fiction in her work. She became well-known in the Netherlands with her debut novel and two following best-sellers. She has written several essay collections, such as
    Het geluk van de eenzaamheid (The Joy of Loneliness, 2009) en Het drama van de afhankelijkheid (The Drama of Dependency, 2017). Many of her novels are based on events in her own life, and her essays are more narrative than usual. In 2023 she published Voornamelijk vrouwen (Mostly Women), personal essays about eleven women and one man who shape their lives in their own headstrong ways. Palmen debates with and challenges them, uncovering differences and similarities with her own life. Her award-winning work is internationally successful and translated into many languages.

    Annelies Verbeke writes novels, stories, film scripts and theatre pieces. In 2003 she debuted with Slaap! (Sleep!), followed by three novels, four short-story collections, the collection of journalistic stories Wakker (Awake, co-created with photographer Charlie De Keersmaecker), and the graphic novella Tirol Inferno, written in iambic pentameter and rhyme, co-created with illustrator Klaas Verplancke. Her work has won various prizes and been translated into many languages. In 2023 she published Koude soep (Cold Soup) in the Terloops Series and JIJ, an anthology of you-stories.

    Mira Feticu is a writer, poet and columnist. In 2012 she published her first novel in Dutch: Lief kind van mij (Sweet Child of Mine), followed by De ziekte van Kortjakje (Kortjakje's Disease, 2013). Both books are about a Romanian immigrant who grew up under Ceausescu and is unable to settle down in the Netherlands, but who flourishes as she distances herself from her husband. Her third novel Tascha, about an art robbery in a Rotterdam museum, appeared in 2015, followed by Al mijn vaders (All My Fathers), Picasso's keerzijde (Picasso's Flipside) and Liefdesverklaring aan de Nederlandse taal (Love Letter to the Dutch Language, 2021).

    Festival tip: Connie Palmen talked with artist Sven Ratzke about their theatre show Marlene and about masculinity and femininity on Saturday afternoon, 20 January 2024, at Theater aan het Spui; later that day she contributed to a conversation during Saturday Night Unlimited with Celeste Ng and Sacha Bronwasser about the voice of the character.

  • Writers Unlimited 2024 – Saturday Night Unlimited

    The Voice - In search of the character's soul

    We gave 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 The Voice - in search of the character's soul and to open Saturday Night Unlimited with it.

    In her keynote speech, Palmen spoke 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 was the subject of the following discussion between Palmen, Celeste Ng and Sacha Bronwasser, who published the novel Luister (Listen) in 2023. Writer and journalist Sarah Sluimer moderated.

    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 appeared during Friday Night Unlimited (19 January 2024). Connie Palmen appeared on Saturday afternoon, 20 January 2024 in conversation with artist Sven Ratzke in the event You Do Something to Me about their collaboration on his new show Marlene, from which he performed several famous Dietrich songs.

  • Winternachten 2016

    Anna Luyten in Conversation with Connie Palmen

    With: Anna Luyten, Connie Palmen

    "All great literature is about the fight against evil." Connie Palmen places these words in the mouth of the poet Ted Hughes in her most recent novel, Jij zegt het (Whatever You Say), a fictional autobiography of the poet who stayed silent for 35 years after the 1963 suicide of his wife, poet Sylvia Plath. But how can Palmen's character fight against evil while being conscious of the fact that violence and destruction lurk at the core of love? When destruction and creation alternate as predominant forces in a love relationship? When his own rational and animal instincts are always locked in battle? Does this struggle even make sense when everything is written in the stars? Connie Palmen examines these dilemmas in an interview with Anna Luyten. How does she herself see Hughes' story in relation to reality?

    Prior to this event you can attend the NRC Book Club Live, which discusses Connie Palmen's novel Lucifer.

  • Winternachten 2016 – Saturday Night Unlimited

    The Limits of Empathy

    Indo-British writer Neel Mukherjee made the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize with his ambitious novel The Lives of Others, a tale of limited empathy and missing bonds within a large family. The Dutch translation will be presented during the festival. Connie Palmen wrote Jij zegt het (Whatever You Say), a bestseller about the poet Ted Hughes, whose wife, poetess Sylvia Plath, committed suicide after the limits of their love had been reached. Power plays a major role in both of these families. Does evil lurk in every relationship? Anna Luyten gets the discussion started.

  • Winternachten 2014 – SATURDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    The Text of my Life: Connie Palmen

    Which texts from world literature has Dutch writer Connie Palmen cherished as long as she lives? This most beautiful or most inspiring text can be a poem, an excerpt from a novel or a song-text. She discusses the text with the audience. In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2014 – SATURDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    Can I put my heart at your feet?

    Writers plunge into the world of sweet words, rapture and temptation. But, as Elisabeth Bennet remarked in Pride and Prejudice: 'If it's only a vague inclination, I'm convinced a poor sonnet will kill it stone dead.' An evening about the best phrases of seduction in literature, the most successful practical examples of the power of the word in the field of romantic love and words capable of eradicating an awakening love root and branch. And Hartstuk by Heiner Müller, one of the shortest plays in the history of the theatre, brought to you by the young group of theatre makers HartenJagers. In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2014 – SATURDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    Nothing to hide! A debate with the audience

    Nothing to hide, my whole life on Facebook. Or rather, surely not? Why should we bother about privacy and how to use it in the social media? What are the differences in outlook between youngsters and the older generation? In a Socratic conversation we try to find the core of our need for privacy and what the unwritten rules of Facebook and Twitter are. During the search, we are aided by three experts, philosopher and writer Connie Palmen, primatologist Jan van Hooff and Maurits Martijn, a journalist and expert in the field of privacy and surveillance. In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2009 – Winternachten vrijdagavond

    Connie Palmen's State of the Novel: 'Fake it till you make it'

    'The Truth is fiction', according to Connie Palmen in her opening performance at Winternachten. Especially for Winternachten she wrote a State of the Novel: 'Fake it till you make it'. By now fiction influences important aspects of our daily life, Palmen posits. Classical twin concepts such as real-unreal and fiction-reality are up for reassessment. After her opening words she talked to Christiaan Weijts, who in his novels Art. 285b and Via Cappello 23 has proven himself a talented manipulator of words and truth. The programme was hosted by Kees 't Hart.

  • Winternachten 2002 – Winternacht 1

    The State of Passion and Love

    'I tell you, love is a chemical reaction, with an inevitable bad ending'. With these words Gerrit Komrij opened this festival. His sermon was the starting point of a conversation on passion and love, between writer Connie Palmen and 'Happy Hooker' Xaviera Hollander. In the last minutes of this programme, jazz-singer Denise Jannah talked about the way she set four love poems to music. The poems were selected for her by Gerrit Komrij. Dutch spoken.