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Writers Unlimited

The other writers' festival: four days in January dedicated to writers from the most unexpected corners of the world. We are experiencing Winternachten.

Hassnae Bouazza's Thousand Shades of Arabia on #wu13

John de Mol is doing good business in the Arab world. He acts rather dismissively about this, according to Hassnae Bouazza. According to her, the television producer talks publicly mainly about the many restrictions on his formats because of Islam and the sentimentalism of TV in the Middle East in general. That De Mol's success number The Voice of Arabia during the final in

'For me, only the text exists' - Alberto Manguel & Hans Goedkoop on black pages #wu13

With a jam-packed programme like Writers Unlimited 2013, it sometimes happens that, even as a professional journalist, despite everything, you end up dropping in somewhere too late, and then just catching a glimpse of something really great. In this case, after the tour de force of Amos Oz and Adriaan van Dis, was that Kenyan Ngwatilo Mawiyoo's spoken word performance. Mea culpa for that.

Does it luckily still involve sex on #wu13

How many male genitals Yasmine Allas had weighed in her hand. For a while, that was the question during Writers Unlimited's most shameless programme to date. This latenight talk show addressed the question of how shameless writers actually dare to be these days. Kristien Hemmerechts, always good for a few firm statements, met her peers in

Presenters can make a Winternight. And break it. #wu13

And then, just like that, you can miss the highlight of the first Winternacht because you don't pull it together with a presenter. Flemish author Bart van Loo, according to many a twitterer, seems to have uttered beautiful sentences in the programme 'Daar geef ik mijn leven voor', but that was well after midnight and I was already

A lot of Oz & a little Van Dis on impossible dreams and ideals #wu13

During the kick-off of Winternacht 1, publicist Bas Heijne brought the two literary giants Amos Oz and Adriaan van Dis closer together. What remains of their former idealism? Oz's barrage of wonderful one-liners proved difficult to tame and made for a hilarious but somewhat unbalanced conversation.

Heartfelt plea against Arab shame culture #wu13

Lebanese writer Hanaan al-Shaykh (Beirut, Lebanon, 1945) opened Wrtiters Unlimited on Thursday 17 January with a blazing argument against Arab culture of shame. This, according to the writer whose books The story of Zahra, Women between sky and sand, Beirut blues and Only in London have been translated into Dutch, so deep in

From insane Moroccan drum 'n bass to alienating dream sounds: Dakka al Marrakchia, Zoumana Diarra & Basile Maneka #WU12

It is incredible what an energy the men of Manar can generate. These six - dressed in djellabas - percussionists play Dekka al Marrakchia: an insanely rousing form of traditional Moroccan drum 'n bass party music and religious Gnawa. After a solemn, almost ritualistic beginning - in which the band comes jogging onto the stage of the Theater aan het Spui in a goose-step, accompanied by the menacing sounds of two huge horns - the drums erupt and the dance floor is full of swinging visitors.

Writers Unlimited showcases a new generation of African authors #wu12

There is something special about Africa. The new generation of writers from Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa walking around Writers Unlimited is different from their parents in the world. Or, indeed, the fact that they interact with it in a completely different way, with those ancestors, defines them as something completely new. They present themselves as confident, modern global citizens.

Hearing sober prophet of doom John Gray speak is always a relief #WU12

In the late 1980s, John N. Gray (South Shields, 1948) adviser to Margaret Thatcher - Gray: "I was just a small mote of dust in her administration" - now he is a fierce critic of all things neoconservative. On Writers Unlimited, publicist Bas Heijne felt him out.

Big plus for the writer who can also narrate #wu12

His voice is low, and when he talks, he does so calmly and thoughtfully. He regards his humour - very British - as a side effect that is more accidental than intended. This makes Helon Habila a perfect guest for the opening night of Writers Unlimited, the Hague literature festival better known as 'Winternachten'. The Nigerian can tell stories, but... 

PEN Award for Iranian founder 'Stop Stoning Forever' campaign #wu12

She now lives in Norway, after she had to leave her homeland Iran for her own opinion. She was detained for five days, and in Tehran's notorious Evin prison, that is an eternity. Now Asieh Amini is free in a foreign land, and Oxfam-Novib is presenting her with the PEN Award. A great opening for the Writers Unlimited Winternachten Festival, which, with this presentation,... 

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