On Friday 29 March 2019, on the stroke of midnight, Brexit will become a reality. In Brussels, the heart of Europe, the UK’s departure from the EU cannot go unnoticed. With a highly unique lecture concert, we will turn the spotlight on the age-old artistic ties between the UK and the European continent. The leading British authors Ali Smith and Jonathan Coe will read from their Brexit novels. British writer Sulaiman Addonia, who has Eritrean roots but lives in Brussels, brings a brand new short story.
Literary concert on the eve of Brexit
Artists on both side of the Channel have always influenced and enriched one another. With this literary concert we wish to underline what connects us. In words and music, leading British musicians and writers will emphasize the age-old cultural ties between the UK and the European continent.
Literary lions Jonathan Coe and Ali Smith will read from their Brexit novels. British writer Sulaiman Addonia, who has Eritrean roots but lives in Brussels, brings a brand new short story. In addition, the Aurora Orchestra and tenor Ian Bostridge will perform Les Illuminations, a song cycle by Benjamin Britten set to texts by Arthur Rimbaud, and The Protecting Veil by John Taverner. We will take our leave with Joseph Haydn’s Farewell Symphony. Fasten your seatbelt for a moving evening between humour and reflection.
Ali Smith, Autumn
With her Brexit novel Autumn, the Scottish writer Ali Smith wrote one of the best books of 2017. Current events give the novel an unprecedented momentum, but the slogan-filled language around the Brexit referendum makes way in Smith’s work for a symphony of thoughts and dreams. The gripping tale of the unusual friendship between the 101-year-old Daniel Gluck and the 32-year-old Elisabeth Demand earned Autumn a place on the Man Booker Prize shortlist in 2017.
Jonathan Coe, Middle England
In his latest novel, Middle England, Jonathan Coe also takes a closer look at Brexit. Through Lois and Benjamin, familiar figures from The Rotters’ Club and The Closed Circle, and a host of other colourful characters, Coe sketches in Middle England the picture of a country full of nostalgia and confusion, unconcealed racism and rising poverty, disappointment and anger. In his Brexit novel, the bestselling author shows sharply why the British voted the way they voted.
Sulaiman Addonia is a novelist who fled Eritrea as a refugee in childhood. He spent his early life in a refugee camp in Sudan, and in his early teens he studied in Saudi Arabia. He arrived in London as an underage unaccompanied refugee without a word of English and went on to study Development Studies and Economics. The Consequences of Love (shortlist Commonwealth Writers’ Prize) was translated into more than 20 languages. Sulaiman Addonia currently lives in Brussels where he has launched a creative writing academy for refugees and asylum seekers & the Asmara-Addis Literary Festival (in Exile). Silence is My Mother Tongue is his second novel.
Passa Porta, BOZAR Literature, BOZAR Music, British Council, Klarafestival