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Helon Habila

Helon Habila  - foto Serge Ligtenberg
Helon Habila  - foto Serge Ligtenberg

was born in Nigeria. He worked as a lecturer and journalist in Nigeria before he moved to England to become the African Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia. In 2002 he published his first novel, Waiting for an Angel. His writing has won many prizes including the Caine Prize, 2001, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize, 2003. In 2005/2006 he became the Chinua Achebe Fellow at Bard College, New York.
In 2006 he co-edited the British Council's anthology, New Writing 14. His second novel, Measuring Time, was published in 2007, it won the Virginia Library Foundation Fiction Award, 2008. His third novel, Oil on Water, was published in the US in 2011. His anthology, The Granta Book of the African Short Story came out in September, 2011. Habila teaches Creative Writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where he lives with his wife and three children.

(WU 2012)

Archive available for: Helon Habila

  • Antillen 2012

    Krusa Laman - Villa Maria Curaçao

    With: Cathleen Giterson, David Van Reybrouck, Favell Maduro, Frank Martinus Arion, Grupo Serenada, Guineta de Palm, Helon Habila, Lucille Berry-Haseth, Merietza Haakmat, Petina Gappah, Rodaan Al Galidi

    A wonderful evening full of stories, poems and songs in a beautiful open air theatre in Curaçao, Villa Maria. Merietza Haakmat & Favell Maduro will be the MC's for the Belgian writer David van Reybrouck, the poet from Curaçao Lucille Berry-Haseth, writer Petina Gappah from Zimbabwe, the singers of Serenada, the stories by Guineta de Palm, writer Helon Habila from Nigeria, author Cathleen Giterson from Curaçao and poet Rodaan Al Galidi from The Netherlands. All authors will perform in their own language. Translations to English and Papiamentu will be projected on screen simultaneously.

  • Antillen 2012

    Literary debate in Teatro Luna Blou - Curaçao

    With: David Van Reybrouck, Helon Habila, Mario Kleinmoedig, Miriam Sluis, Petina Gappah, Rhazul and his Group, Richenel Ansano, Rodaan Al Galidi, Sheila Payne

    An evening with storytelling, writers conversations and readings. The evening opens with storyteller Sheila Payne. Then Mario Kleinmoedig will moderate to talks with writers on the theme 'The Power of Memory'. Helon Habila (Nigeria/USA) and David van Reybrouck (Belgie), author of 'Congo, A History', will meet  Miriam Sluis, who published several books on the history of the Dutch Caribean. The second talk brings  together the Curaçao poet Richenel (Muz) Ansano, the Dutch/Iraqi poet Rodaan Al Galidi and writer Petina Gappah from Zimbabwe. There is live music by Rhazul and his Group. All talks are in English.

  • Antillen 2012

    Crusa Lama - Aruba

    With: Caresse Isings, David Van Reybrouck, Dora Lauffer-Mathilda, Elisabeth Pope, Helon Habila, Jacques Thönissen, Jossy Tromp, Petina Gappah, Rodaan Al Galidi, Ryan Maduro, Sharon Rose, Victor Mathilda

    An evening with writers, poets and musicians from Aruba, with four foreign guests from Writers Unlimited. Readings of prose, poetry, storytelling and music in a beautiful surrounding, the garden of the library of Aruba.

  • Antillen 2012

    Crossing the Seas - Sint Maarten

    With: David Van Reybrouck, Gino Olivacce, Helon Habila, Marianne Tefft, Petina Gappah, Rodaan Al Galidi, Stephen Rodney

    The four authors who visit the eiland of St Martin on behalf of Writers Unlimited, will perform together with local authors and muscians Marianne Tefft, Giovanni Olivacce en Stephen "Stretch" Rodney. The morning after this performance, the writers will perform at secondary schools on the island.

  • Winternachten 2012

    African Meet & Greet in Dakota Theater

    With: Adejoke Babington-Ashaye, Helon Habila, Kopano Matlwa, Nancy-Josee Ntumba Ciakudia, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Vamba Sherif

    This year Writers Unlimited goes into town, organising informal meetings with the foreign writers. On Saturday 21 January the festival hits Theater Dakota, for a Meet & Greet with the African writers Helon Habila (winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize), Kopano Matlwa (rising star in South African literature) and Nii Ayikwei Parkes (poet, writer and BBC radio commentator). Also a performance by singer and lawyer Adejoke Babington-Ashaye!

  • Winternachten 2012

    Winternachten Lecture

    With: Bas Heijne, Helon Habila, Henk Pröpper, Jan Brokken, Pearlmira Vincent

    Literature as a Way of Seeing
    Nigerian journalist/writer Helon Habila opens the festival with a lecture about literature as the art of seeing. Those who witness injustice can look away or walk away. A real writer, argues Habila, can't, because the writer is fascinated by that image and haunted by it until he writes about it. How can literature sharpen our view and increase our empathy? How do fiction and truth relate to each other? In his new novel Oil on Water, Habila exposes the abuses surrounding oil drilling in Nigeria without wagging his finger. The novel won a lot of praise and has been compared to Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Soprano Pearlmira Vincent will sing an aria by Antonín Dvořák. Henk Pröpper, director of De Bezige Bij publishing house, and former director of the Dutch Foundation for Literature, will officially open the festival. After Habila's lecture Bas Heijne interviews the writer and chairs a discussion with Jan Brokken and Helon Habila. In English.
    Mansoura Ez Eldin (Egypt), had to cancel her performance for family reasons.

  • Winternachten 2012 – Winternacht 1

    Nigeria and Oil: The Book and the Movie

    Journalist and writer Helon Habila wrote an acclaimed novel on the effects of oil-drilling in Nigeria. For Dutch tv Thomas Blom made a high-profile documentary on the same subject: Shell in Nigeria. This led to the company being brought to book in a Dutch parliamentary hearing. A conversation, with footage from the documentary, on the artistic and journalistic choices the writer and documentary filmmaker had to make. On facts, form and fiction. In English.

  • Winternachten 2012 – Winternacht 1

    How to be a Dictator in Africa

    Writers put themselves in the shoes of African dictators. They take us with them in the spirit of the once so optimistic leaders who, after the independence of their countries, turned into dictators one by one. In doing so these writers try to give an insight in the world they left behind, from Somalia to Nigeria, and from Sudan to Congo. In English.
    David van Reybrouck replaces Mansoura Ez Eldin, who had to cancel for familiy reasons.

  • Winternachten 2006 – WINTERNACHT 2

    Young in Africa

    'Imagine that you are young, talented and ambitious and live in the anti-utopia known as Nigeria: half the world has imposed severe sanctions on your country. All you hear on the radio is that your land is being sucked into the quaqmire', writes the Nigerian author Helon Habila in his debut novel Wachten op een engel (Waiting for an angel). A novel about the life and work of a young journalist during the era of the grim Nigerian dictator president Abacha. Helon Habila and his South African contemporary Niq Mhlongo talk about ambitions and commitment. What position do you take in Africa if you are young? What are your chances, what are your responsibilities? Mhlongo made his debut with the novel Dog Eat Dog, a graphic and humorous report of his experiences in the post-apartheid generation. Helon Habila opens the programme with his 'Manual for the Independent Mind'. English spoken.