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Ian Buruma will open Writers Unlimited Festival The Hague

On Thursday 16 January 8 p.m. the opening speech of the 2014 edition of the Writers Unlimited Winternachten Festival The Hague will be held by the internationally renowned author Ian Buruma. From 16-19 January the festival offers performances by writers from all over the world. The French-Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf, the guest of honour, will deliver the Winternachten Lecture on Friday 18 january. The festival takes place in Theater aan het Spui and Filmhuis Den Haag.

This edition of the festival has a theme: “Like me”, an allusion to the social media. It offers performances by writers from all over the world. From Dutch writer Herman Koch to the French-Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf, from Connie Palmen from Holland to Geling Yan from China, from Dutch tv anchor and poetry anthologist Arie Boomsma to the Italian master of graphic novels Milo Manara and many more.

There are English as well as Dutch programmes. In Filmhuis Den Haag there is a choice of films selected by the writers, there is food and drink, there is music by Wende, Huub van der Lubbe, Typhoon, Ensemble Mäshräp and Neco Novellas. And at the end of Friday evening and Saturday evening everybody dances the night away.


Thursday 16 January 8 p.m. Opening Night: Free the Word!
The freedom of speech and the power of the word are highlighted with the award ceremony of the prestigious Oxfam Novib/PEN Awards for Freedom of Expression. The ceremony starts with the opening speech by Ian Buruma and is followed by a debate on social media in the struggle against repression, with among others Dutch writers Marente de Moor and Frank Westerman. Arabist Petra Stienen presents the evening and leads the discussion. With music by the Uighur Ensemble Mäshräp. In English.

Friday 17 January 8 p.m. Friday Night Unlimited
A varied evening with programmes on five stages. Amin Maalouf (France/Lebanon) delivers the Winternachten Lecture. Also with Abdelkader Benali (NL Maroc), Arie Boomsma (NL), Ian Buruma (VS/NL), Linda Christanty (Indonesia), Aminatta Forna (Sierra Leone/GB), Femke Halsema (NL), Noreena Hertz (GB), Andrés Neuman (Spain/Argentinia), Nihad Sirees (Syria), Miral al-Tahawy (Egypt), Geling Yan (China)  and many others. 50% in English.

Saturday 18 January 2 p.m. Amin Maalouf meets Petra Stienen: A New Attitude Towards Identity
Arabist and writer Petra Stienen (NL) talks to the festival’s guest of honour, the Lebanese/French author Amin Maalouf. In English.

Saturday 18 January 2 p.m. NRC Leesclub live: De Rode ruiterij, van Isaak Babel
Visitors of the NRC Reading Club live read The Red Cavalry from the collected stories by Isaak Babel and give their opinion. With a panel, consisting of Elsbeth Etty (NL), Bas Heijne (NL), and Sana Valiulina (NL Estonia). Hosted by Michel Krielaars (NL), head of the book pages of newspaper NRC Handelsblad. In Dutch.

Saturday 18 January 4 p.m. Andrés Neuman meets Bas Heijne: Grief and the Comfort of Words
Essayist and columnist Bas Heijne (NL) talks to Argentine writer Andrés Neuman, one of the most important Latin American writers of the new generation. In English.

Saturday 18 January 4 p.m. Wim Brands Leesclub: De ontheemden, van Amin Maalouf
In this Reading Club, TV host Wim Brands (NL) discusses the Dutch translation of Amin Maalouf’s novel Les Désorientés with the audience. Arabist Petra Stienen (NL) and Fouad Laroui (NL Maroc), lecturer in Arabic culture and French literature at the University of Amsterdam, give their opinion about the book. In Dutch.

Saturday 18 January 8 p.m. Saturday Night Unlimited
A varies evening with programmes on five stages. With Theo van den Boogaard (NL), Ian Buruma (VS/NL), Linda Christanty (Indonesia), Elsbeth Etty (NL), Antjie Krog (South Africa), Jan van Hooff (NL), Rudolf Kahl (NL), Herman Koch (NL), Tom Lanoye (Belgium), Ad van Liempt (NL), Milo Manara (Italy), Connie Palmen (NL), Anne Provoost (Belgium), Miral al-Tahawy (Egypt), P.F. Thomése (NL), Geling Yan (China) and many others. 50% in English.

Sunday 19 January 10 a.m. VPRO’s OVT live
Radio programme to be broadcast live for an audience. Writers Ian Buruma (NL/VS) and Nelleke Noordervliet (NL) are guests, among others, and there is live music by Neco Novellas. In Dutch.

Sunday 19 January 12 a.m. Milo Manara: Graphic Novels
Milo Manara (Italy) standardised the erotic strip cartoon almost singlehandedly, but gave it brains too. He talks to an expert on strip cartoons, Peter Breedveld (NL). In Italian, interpreted in Dutch.

Sunday 19 January 2 p.m. Het Schrijversfeest
The Writers’ Fest is the festive conclusion of the festival with a programme full of writers and other guests. It includes the award winning ceremony of the literary prizes of the City of The Hague. In Dutch.


International authors:
Ian Buruma (VS/The Netherlands), writer and a scholar of Chinese and Japanese studies
Linda Christanty (Indonesia), engagé writer and journalist
Aminatta Forna (GB/Sierra Leone), latest novel The Hired Man is set against the backdrop of ethnic cleansing
Noreena Hertz (GB), economist and writer of critical books on globalisation and consumption
Antjie Krog (South-Africa), renowned poet, and her son, Andries Samuel
Andries Samuel (South-Africa), an architect and poet
Amin Maalouf (France/Lebanon), writer, winner of the Prix Goncourt, member of the French Academy
Milo Manara (Italy), celebrity in the world of comic strips, famous for his erotic drawings
Andrés Neuman (Spain/Argentina), important new voice in Latin American literature
Nihad Sirees (Syria), known in the Arab world for his novels and tv series
Miral al-Tahawy (Egypt), prize winning writer, grew up in a traditional Bedouin family
Geling Yan (China), writes books and scripts for tv series and films, for directors Joan Chen and Zhang Yimou, among others

And from the Netherlands and Belgium: Abdelkader Benali, Theo van den Boogaard, Arie Boomsma, Hassnae Bouazza, Nadia Bouras, Wim Brands, Peter Breedveld, Saskia De Coster, Mathijs Deen, Elsbeth Etty, Rodaan Al Galidi, Jaap Goedegebuure, Tijs Goldschmidt, Femke Halsema, Sanneke van Hassel, Marjolijn van Heemstra, Bas Heijne, Rosan Hollak, Jan van Hooff, Oek de Jong, Rudolf Kahl, Bernke Klein Zandvoort, Martijn Knol, Herman Koch, Michel Krielaars, Tom Lanoye, Fouad Laroui, Ad van Liempt, Geert Mak, Lieke Marsman, Marente de Moor, Elisabeth van Nimwegen, Nelleke Noordervliet, Connie Palmen, Arjan Peters, Roos Pollmann, Anne Provoost, Simone van Saarloos, Alfred Schaffer, Jan Paul Schutten, Sheila Sitalsing, Petra Stienen, P.F. Thomése, Sana Vialiulina, Anne Vegter, Bettine Vriesekoop, Frank Westerman, Kira Wuck and many others

Ensemble Mäshräp, Huub van der Lubbe, Wende, Neco Novellas, DJ mps PILOT, DJ Socrates, Faya and Typhoon contribute musically to the 19th edition of the festival.

Read more about the programmes, find background information on the writers and book tickets on (click the Union Jack)