Vonne van der Meer
(Eindhoven, 1952) attended a theatre director in Amsterdam and after that worked ten years for various theatre companies as a director. During that decade she wrote her first short stories. In 1985 she made her debut with the collection of stories Het limonadegevoel en andere verhalen (The lemonade feeling and other stories). She was awarded the Geertjan Lubberhuizen prize for this. Van der Meer became well known through her novel-in-stories Eilandgasten (Island guests). Her books have been translated in, among others, French, German and Spanish. Next to writing, she teaches at the Ritcs (film and television academy) in Brussels, Belgium. Since her writers' debut she is a PEN Nederland member and is a board member since 2016. She recently succeeded Manon Uphoff as PEN Nederland President.(WU 2017)
Archive available for: Vonne van der Meer
With: Anass Habib, Celal Altuntas, Farah Karimi, Ian Buruma, Jennifer Clement, Kamal Hors, Lex Bohlmeijer, Malini Subramaniam, Michaïl Sjisjkin, Peter Abspoel, Sjoerd de Jong, Ton van de Langkruis, Vonne van der Meer
On the festival's Opening Night, the focus is on freedom of speech. The evening started with Mikhail Shishkin, one of the most prominent representatives of contemporary Russian literature, delivering the Free the Word! speech. Next, the Oxfam Novib PEN Awards were handed out. The debate ''Writing in times of super-diversity' with writers Ian Buruma, Celal Altuntas and Peter Abspoel closed the evening.
The Opening Night is an English spoken programme organized in collaboration with Oxfam Novib, PEN International and PEN Nederland.
Free the Word!-speech by Mikhail Shishkin
Shishkin is the author of four widely acclaimed novels Pismovnik (2010), Maidenhair (2005), Taking of Izmail (2000) and Larionov´s Memoirs (1994), Shishkin is admired as a refined stylist whose fiction engages Russian and European literary traditions and forges an equally expansive vision for the future of literature. Shishkin has worked as a teacher and journalist. His novels have earned him the three most prestigious Russian literary awards: the Russian Booker Prize in 2000, the National Bestseller Prize in 2005, and the Bolshaya Kniga (Big Book) Prize in 2006 and 2011. His works have been translated into thirty languages.
Oxfam Novib PEN Awards
Afterward, the presentation of the prestigious Oxfam Novib PEN Awards honoured today's writers who risk their freedom and even their lives to seek out and publish the truth. The winners were be announced: the Palestine poetr Ashraf Fayadh, who is imprisoned in Saudi Arabia, and the Indian journalist Malini Subramaniam. The latter was able to come over to The Hague to receive the award from Farah Karimi, director of Oxfam Novib.
Debate with Ian Buruma, Celal Altuntas and Peter Abspoel
The debate 'Writing in times of super-diversity' followed, featuring writer and essayist Ian Buruma (New York Times, Guardian, NRC), writer Celal Altuntas (a.o. Het dorp van zeven broers / The Village of Seven Brothers) and anthropologist/writer Peter Abspoel (a.o. Zingeving in het Westen / Giving meaning in the West) as well as moderator Sjoerd de Jong, journalist and ombudsman with NRC Handelsblad newspaper. The subject was "Writing in times of super-diversity."
Host and music
This program was presented by Lex Bohlmeijer, with musical accompaniment by Kamal Hors (oud, voice) and Anass Habib (deff, voice).
The Turkish writer Elif Shafak and her Dutch colleague Vonne van der Meer create in their novels a world based on human relationships, where coincidence brings characters together or uproots their lives. Chaired by Joyce Roodnat, the two novelists discuss humanity in Turkish and Dutch society. Elif Shafak opens the programme with her essay on Turkey on the threshold between East and West, written for Winternachten.