Brussels International: New Voices (2)

Wed 24.03.2021
15:30 - 16:30
DEF BI passaporta siteweb 2000


online event


Lecture, Performance


free admission


in several languages, with subtitles in French and Dutch

During two showcases, Passa Porta and partners will give the floor to a selection of foreign authors who live in Belgium but are not sufficiently well known here. Naturally, they can’t wait for you to discover them and read their work. In this session, the Polish-Belgian writer and philosopher Alicja Gescinska will be introducing Hosheng Ossi, Ubah Cristina Ali Farah, Ahmet Altan and Monem Mahjoub.

Talent to spare

About a third of all people living in Belgium are of foreign origin or have another nationality. Moreover, never before has our country hosted more writers who have left their native country. Passa Porta wants to give these new literary neighbours more visibility in the ‘Brussels International’ programme.

In this second session, this time in collaboration with PEN Flanders, you will get to see and hear the Italian-Somalian writer Ubah Cristina Ali Farah, the Syrian Kurd Hosheng Ossi and the Libyan poet and philosopher Monem Mahjoub. The authors will be reading excerpts from their recent works. Subtitles in Dutch and French. English translations of Monem Mahjoub's poems are available on our website.

Empty chair

PEN Flanders will symbolically keep an empty chair free for a writer who could not be present because they are imprisoned, disappeared, threatened or killed.

About the authors

Ubah Cristina Ali Farah (b. 1973) is an Italian writer from Verona. The daughter of an Italian mother and a Somali father, she has been living in Brussels for years. The process of working through trauma and oral literary traditions are points of particular interest in her work. She became known in Italy with her novels Madre piccola (translated into EN as Little Mother) and Il comandante del fiume.

Hosheng Ossi (b. 1976) is a Belgian poet, writer and journalist of Kurdish origin. He fled Syria after receiving threats and has been living in Flanders since 2010. He currently lives in Ostend. As a journalist, he specializes in the Kurdish and Turkish issue.

In 2020 the Jordanian publishing house Al-Khotot released his ninth book of poetry, With the eyes of an old crow (literal translation), and his third novel, The Afghan (literal translation). Ossi won the 2017 Katara Prize, an important literary award in the Arab world, with a novel translated into English as The Burden of Certainty. His poems are each in their own way a meditation on life. Other themes are war, disappointment, death and, of course, love.

Monem Mahjoub (b. 1963) is a Libyan linguist, philosopher, poet, historian and political critic. In countless articles and more than 25 books, he has tackled issues ranging from language, history and religion to humanism, cultural development and politics. As a result of his critical publications on Muslim fundamentalism, Mahjoub has received several physical and verbal death threats in recent years from supporters of fanatical militias in Libya and Egypt.

He ultimately sought refuge with ICORN (International Cities of Refuge Network), an organization of which the international house of literature Passa Porta is also a member. Thanks to a partnership between Passa Porta and VUB, Mahjoub found temporary shelter in Brussels, where he can now work in safety on a book of philosophical essays about identity and a study of the twelfth-century Arab scholar Ibn Bajja (Latinized name: Avempace).

Passa Porta, PEN Vlaanderen

illustration brussels international © cécile barraud de lagerie
photo ubah cristina ali farah © deBuren
photo hosheng ossi © pen vlaanderen
photo monem mahjoub © mélissa boneté

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