31 Jan Rodaan Al Galidi, Annelies Verbeke and Pierre Jarawan at Writers Series
Friday, 21 February 2020
20:30 – 22:00
Studio B – Central Library, Spui 68, 1st floor, The Hague.
The Netherlands, Flanders and Germany through the eyes of immigrants.
Three countries, three authors, three novels about immigrants finding their way in a new country.
The authors will be interviewed and will also read excerpts from their work.
An English language evening, organized by Writers Unlimited in cooperation with World Editions, hosted by Fiep van Bodegom.
Rodaan Al Galidi is a poet and writer. Born in Iraq and trained as a civil engineer, he has lived in the Netherlands since 1998. As an undocumented asylum seeker he did not have the right to attend language classes, so he taught himself to read and write Dutch. His novel De autist en de postduif (‘The Autist and the Carrier Pigeon’) won the European Union Prize for Literature in 2011—the same year he failed his Dutch citizenship course. Two Blankets, Three Sheets, already a bestseller in the Netherlands, and recently published in the US and UK, is his most successful novel to date. Al Galidi divides his time between the Netherlands and Spain.
Two Blankets, Three Sheets: Amsterdam Airport, 1998. Samir Karim steps off a plane from Vietnam, flushes his fake passport down the toilet, and requests asylum. Fleeing Iraq to avoid conscription into Saddam Hussein’s army, he has spent seven years anonymously wandering through Asia. Now, safely in the heart of Europe, he is sent to an asylum center and assigned a bed in a shared dorm—where he will spend the next nine years. As he navigates his way around the absurdities of Dutch bureaucracy, Samir tries his best to get along with his 500 new housemates. Told with compassion and a unique sense of humor, this is an inspiring tale of survival, a close-up view of the hidden world of refugees and human smugglers, and a sobering reflection of our times.
Annelies Verbeke is a writer of novels, short stories and plays. Verbeke’s books have received numerous awards and nominations: Thirty Days was chosen as best Dutch novel of 2015 by readers of a leading Dutch newspaper, awarded the F. Bordewijk Award and Opzij Literature prize for best novel, and nominated for the ECI Literature Prize. Two years later her short story collection Halleluja won the JMA Biesheuvel Prize for the best short-story collection of the year. Her work has been translated into English and many other languages. It has been compared to that of Katherine Mansfield. She lives in Ghent, Belgium.
Thirty Days: Alphonse is a Senegalese immigrant who uproots his life in Brussels to become a handyman in rural Flanders. Likeable and charismatic, people cannot help but reveal their secrets, desires and unexpected dreams to him. In her typically astute style, Verbeke weaves a vivid and thought-provoking tale of contemporary life, subtly touching upon timely themes such as refugees and racism. Thirty Days is a deeply moving story about love, outsiders and the human need to connect.
Pierre Jarawan was born in 1985 to a Lebanese father and a German mother and moved to Germany with his family at the age of three. Inspired by his father’s imaginative bedtime stories, he started writing at the age of thirteen. He has won international prizes as a slam poet, and in 2016 was named Literature Star of the Year by the daily newspaper Abendzeitung. Jarawan received a literary scholarship from the City of Munich (the Bayerischer Kunstförderpreis) for The Storyteller, his first novel, which went on to become a bestseller and booksellers’ favorite in Germany and the Netherlands and is now conquering the UK and US, where he has recently been touring. Pierre Jarawan lives in Munich.
The Storyteller: Samir leaves the safety and comfort of his family’s adopted home in Germany for volatile Beirut in an attempt to find his missing father. His only clues are an old photo and the bedtime stories his father used to tell him. The Storyteller follows Samir’s search for Brahim, the father whose heart was always yearning for his homeland, Lebanon. In this moving and gripping novel about family secrets, love, and friendship, Pierre Jarawan does for Lebanon what Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner did for Afghanistan. He pulls away the curtain of grim facts and figures to reveal the intimate story of an exiled family torn apart by civil war and guilt. In this rich and skillful account, Jarawan proves that he too is a masterful storyteller.
Fiep van Bodegom studied literature and cultural analysis at the University of Amsterdam. She writes for the Groene Amsterdammer weekly and is an editor with the literary magazine De Gids. She regularly publishes reviews, essays, interviews, translations and prose in the aforementioned magazines as well as in Mister Motley, DeFusie, nY and DWB. Van Bodegom often appears at (literary) festivals and on stages, including at Perdu, Crossing Border and Spui25. She is also a programmer for Writers Unlimited in The Hague.
General admission €10; library members, Ooievaarspas holders and CJP €7; students free.
Tickets and more information available (NL/EN) from the Writers Unlimited Website.