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To hear Andrès Neuman speak is to want to buy his book #WU14

During Writers Unlimited, writers often mingle clandestinely among the common folk. And especially younger, international authors, unlike the Adriaan van Dissen of this world who cannot take a step without being buried in a scrum of literary groupies. So it can happen that you find yourself drinking beer several times with someone who suddenly, completely unexpectedly, turns out to be a genius author. Like Andrès Neuman.

Neuman - small in stature, graying diabolically - does not initially make things easy for moderator Bas Heijne. He politely responds to Heijne's well-intentioned questions, but the fun is far from over. After some mutual probing, Neuman does loosen up.

And damn.

What started as a downright boring Q&A nevertheless develops into a wonderful conversation about grief, caring, lust and pain. About getting older and continuing to care for loved ones until death. About saying goodbye, dying and about dark horniness as compensation for insurmountable grief. And about undirected guilt. Central themes in Neuman's work, which, after the epic and fist-pumping The Century Traveller (2009) is particularly evident in his most recent book, Silent speakers (2012).

Neuman proves to be an engaging storyteller, shaking one brilliant, introspective one-liner after another from his sleeve, without then being distastefully self-righteous about it. Totally unforced, and therefore sympathetic:

"Grief is masturbation of your own pain."/ "It is every writer's mission to write a first novel every time."/ "The more you read the longer your life becomes. All those stories become new memories and work their way into your 'real' life."/ "The past hurts until it can keep you company."


To hear Andrès Neuman speak is to want to buy his book. So that's what I did then.






Daniel Bertina

/// Freelance cultural journalist, critic, writer and dramatist. Omnivore with a love of art, culture & media in all unfathomable gradations between obscure underground and wildly commercial mainstream. Also works for Het Parool and VPRO. And trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.View Author posts

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