Tonight, Fatma Aydemir, a major voice in German literature, will deliver the fourth State of European Literature. The State of European Literature is an annual lecture delivered by a renowned author or poet of international stature, about the state of literature and the state of Europe through the perspective of literature.
Click here to sign up for the event.
Today, the languages of Europe continue to write and tell stories about the continent, its intimate lives, neighbors and about its shifting position in the present, past and future. Due to political polarization and the contestation of the actual fact of the matter of the continent’s present condition (whether it is about the tectonic shifts in geopolitics, transnational legacies such as colonialism, but also climate change, the division of wealth, or the demographic future of Europe), there is a renewed urge for the truth of literary fiction and the power and precision of poetic expression. Whether it is about the alleged limits to the literary imagination in discussions about identity, emancipation, gender, decolonization, or in the field of contested memories, or about the growing predominance of English as a common European language, literature today seems as vital as ever.
The State of European Literature wishes to enhance awareness of the pivotal role of the key values of literature and culture for the current and future state of Europe: curiosity, imagination, reflection, critique, translation, eloquence, tradition, invention (in random order). After her lecture, Fatma Aydemir will engage in conversation with novelist Simone Atangana Bekono, honorary fellow 2022-23 at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam. Margot Dijkgraaf, writer and literary critic, will host the conversation.
About the speakers
Fatma Aydemir is a major voice in German literature, since her debut novel Ellbogen (2017), and especially since her second novel Dschinns (2022). Aydemir’s grandparents came as guest workers to Germany when her parents were teenagers. She studied German and American Studies in Frankfurt am Main. Since 2012 Aydemir has lived in Berlin and worked as an editor for the daily newspaper taz, where she deals with pop culture, literature and Turkey.
Simone Atangana Bekono is a Dutch poet and writer. Her debut poetry book hoe de eerste vonken zichtbaar werden (2017) was awarded with the Charlotte Köhler Stipendium and her novels Confrontaties (2020) and Zo hoog de zon stond (2022) were nominated for respectively the shortlist and longlist of the Libris Literatuurprijs. Confrontaties was awarded with the Beste Boek voor Jongeren and the Anton Wachterprijs. Atangana Bekono is a columnist for de Volkskrant, editor at De Revisor and currently honorary fellow 2022-23 at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam
Margot Dijkgraaf (moderator) is a Dutch literature critic, author, interviewer and ‘ambassador of French literature in the Netherlands’ and vice versa. She was director of the Centre Français du livre at Maison Descartes, director of SPUI25 and intendant literature at the Dutch embassy in Paris. Amongst her publications are Spiegelbeeld en schaduwspel. Het oeuvre van Hella S. Haasse (2014); Lezen in Frankrijk. Een literaire tour de France (2018); and Zij namen het woord. Rebelse schrijfsters in de Franse letteren (Atlas Contact). Het latest book is In de voetsporen van mijn grootvader (2021, Atlas Contact). She is the laureat of the Gouden Ganzenveer 2021.