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A Quattro Mani

Photographer Marc Brester and journalist Vivian de Gier can read and write with each other - literally. As partners in crime, they travel the world for various media, for reviews of the finest literature and personal interviews with the writers who matter. Ahead of the troops and beyond the delusion of the day.

Frans Budé: 'A poem has to have a story'

In his recent collection Achter het verdwijnpunt, death plays an important role. Poet Frans Budé lost no fewer than four poet friends in a short time and honoured them in verse. The 70-year-old poet himself still writes as avidly as in his younger years: in addition to an occasional collection on the Maas, to be published in May, he wrote poems for the upcoming exhibition... 

José Eduardo Agualusa: 'I will not be silenced'

Writing cost him his marriage, he is being shadowed by the secret service and risks being arrested in Angola. But José Eduardo Agualusa, who has a chance of winning the 2016 Man Booker International Prize with his new novel A General Theory of Forgetting, does not hesitate to put down his pen. 'I won't let myself... 

Winternachten gives audience a bigger voice

International literary festival Winternachten wants to involve the public more in its programmes next year. 'Audiences increasingly want to have a say,' says director Ton van de Langkruis. 'That can be done in all kinds of ways, we are now brooding on that.' Winternachten attracted some 7300 visitors this year, equalling last year's attendance. Last edition's theme was 'Hello Darkness', and... 

An Eco is an Eco is an Eco

'Someone like Umberto is of greater value on earth than in heaven.' Actor Roberto Benigni, known for films like La vita è bella, said goodbye to his friend Umberto Eco (1932-2016) at his funeral at the Castello Sforzesco in Milan on Tuesday. Eco's grandson also spoke and thanked his grandfather for the stories told, the crossword puzzles, the books and music... 

David Vann: 'In every book again, I give up my sense of shame'

In the flat where he is temporarily staying, David Vann (1966) hangs out on the sofa a bit, tired from busyness and late nights as a result of phone calls to the other side of the world. Not too long ago, Vann's marriage stranded, not without a fight, and the legal settlement is still ongoing. He sighs: 'It was the worst... 

Queues to the door for Knausgård at Winternachten #wu16 #wn16

Lots of audience and wonderful stories made the Saturday of the literary festival Winternachten a party. For the visit of Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgård in the afternoon, queues stretched from the auditorium to the front door of the Theater aan het Spui. The festival's evening programming was also well attended. While American-German philosopher Susan Neiman spoke in... 

Winternachten: a fascinating and amusing evening of talking about Evil #wu16

Literature is not a means to bring about political change, but to change people. That is exactly what he aims for with his books, Egyptian writer Alaa al Aswani said yesterday at Winternachten, where his new novel The Automobile Club of Cairo was presented. That is probably how visitors to the literary festival at the end of the evening also came to... 

Winternachten is about something

Hello Darkness is the theme of the international literary festival Winternachten, this coming weekend in The Hague. It takes guts, in a time when everything has to be fun and cosy and we prefer not to spend our free time dealing with misery or 'heavy topics'. That is why we love Winternachten, because that festival really goes... 

Susan Neiman chief guest at Winternachten 2016: Why the atomic bomb really fell on Hiroshima

Propaganda is not just something that occurs in, say, Russia, but also in the West - more so than we ourselves realise. For example, is it widely believed today that the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to force Japan to capitulate and thus end World War II, nothing could be further from the truth. In that respect, Germany goes... 

Stefan Hertmans: 'Poetry is my way of digesting the world'

The Flemish author Stefan Hertmans (1951) is best known in the Netherlands as a novelist, especially since he won the AKO Literature Prize and the Gouden Boekenuil Publieksprijs with his beautiful autobiographical novel Oorlog en terpentijn (War and turpentine). But besides being a writer of novels, collections of short stories, essays and theatre texts, Hertmans is above all a poet. He wrote the Poetry Gift for the upcoming Poetry Week, which starts at the end of January.... 

A weekend in Brussels: This is our culture too

'Well, if we don't get home in one piece, know that we loved you guys,' we joked to our family just before we left for Brussels on Saturday. We would have an interview with American writer David Vann there, and the day after take a walk through Brussels in the footsteps of writers Charlotte and Emily Brontë. There would be some... 

'My mother's death was the beginning of my writing'

'Exciting and accessible, with great tragic content and an unexpected and poignant ending'. With those words, writer Jan Vantoortelboom was awarded the Zeeland Book Prize last week. A Quattro Mani visited him in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen and talked to him about his novel De man die haast had. 'I have grown as a writer.' Writing house 'The Tortelnest' adorns the hand-painted... 

Refugee novels deserve a second life. Especially now

For months now, the news has been about little else but refugees and asylum seekers, and supporters and opponents of their reception have become increasingly polarised. A situation that is very reminiscent of the theme in Elvis Peeters' 2006 novel De ontelbaren (The Indivisible). The atmosphere in the countries where refugees - 'fortune seekers' according to some - seek refuge is becoming increasingly grim. Also in our... 

Why you should read Leena Lander's new novel

She is one of Finland's leading contemporary authors, but in the Netherlands few people have heard of her: Leena Lander[hints]More on Wikipedia: https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leena_Lander[/hints]. High time that changed. We asked her translator Marja-Leena Hellings why you should read her newly published new novel Zondagskind. Leena Lander's (born 1955) new novel Sunday Child tells the story... 

'Taking part in an invasion is a thousand times harder than writing a book about it'

Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games... Would young people still be interested in history? Writer Anke Manschot believes so. On the eve of Children's Book Week, which starts today, her exciting and gripping historical book The Leap of Normandy, the world's first children's novel about D-Day, was published. Five questions for the author. Historical juvenile novel During a holiday in Normandy,... 

Eline Vere's wrong choices

Who has not read the book before, in Dutch at secondary school? Eline Vere, Louis Couperus' debut novel, is one of the classics of Dutch literature and was on the reading list for a long time. The novel, which appeared in 1888 as a serial in daily newspaper Het Vaderland, tells the story of Eline Vere, a 23-year-old woman from a well-to-do family, who longs... 

Writer Jonas Gardell: 'I slept with death'.

With the completion of the trilogy A Story of Love, Illness and Death, about the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, a heavy burden fell from his heart for Swedish writer Jonas Gardell. As one of the few in his circle of friends, he escaped the dance of death. Pure luck, he says. 'I slept with death.' Also, the last... 

Bas van den Bosch: 'Even today, it is often said that men express their feelings poorly.'

Klem is the moving story of 11-year-old Paul, whose mother dies just after he refuses to lie with her for a while and runs out of the room. This makes him think he is guilty of her death. Interview with author Bas van den Bosch about his second novel. We are raffling off three copies! Klem The concise novel Klem has similarities with... 

'Young people have become prudish.' Ronald Giphart on his novel 'Harem'

It is a lovely summer book: Harem, the new novel by Ronald Giphart. And for the first time in years, a good dose of sex appears in a book by the Utrecht-based writer. 'Just the other day at a reading I was announced by a librarian: "Ladies and gentlemen, here is the man who knows all about sex!" Interview so with... 

'Há, I got you!' Mira Feticu wrote novel about painting robbery from Kunsthal

It was dubbed 'the art heist of the century': the theft of seven famous paintings from the Kunsthal three years ago. The perpetrators turned out to be four Romanians with no clue about art. Writer Mira Feticu, originally Romanian, wrote a novel about it. Seven important paintings were stolen from the Kunsthal: a Van Gogh, a Picasso, two rare works by... 

The dark side of Ibiza. Esther J. Ending on her new novel 'An island of its own'

'See, that's how it goes.' Esther Ending flips open a magazine containing an interview following her new novel An Island of Her Own, set on Ibiza, the island where she grew up. The article is not about her novel, but, unbeknownst to her, is part of a story about partying, drinking and drug use. [Tweet... 

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