Passa Porta Festival : Opening evening
An internationally renowned author opens the festival with a specially written text. Their name will be revealed here on 28 February 2019.
The seventh edition of the Passa Porta Festival will take place from 28 until 31 March 2019. A hundred authors and artists will gather in Brussels for a weekend of interviews, debates, discussions and meetings. Over the course of 70 events, you will be invited to discover their texts, ideas and stories at a series of traditional or more unexpected events in a dozen venues in the centre of Brussels (Passa Porta, Beursschouwburg, KVS, Espace Magh, La Bellone, etc).
The full festival programme will be published on 28 February.
In the meantime let us reveal our first guests: Jonathan Coe, Adeline Dieudonné, Jenny Erpenbeck, Rachida Lamrabet, Marie Ndiaye, Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, Olga Tokarczuk and Ali Smith!
The British writer Jonathan Coe reached readers around the world with such satirical novels as What a Carve Up! and The Rotters’ Club. With his twelfth novel, Middle England, Coe recently published an incisive portrait of a country going through a serious identity crisis: the UK. During an author interview, Jonathan Coe will talk about writing in the shadow of Brexit. In addition, on Friday 29 March he will be on stage at Bozar for the lecture-concert Goodbye Hello. On Brexit day this ambitious collaboration between Bozar, Klarafestival and the Passa Porta Festival highlights what connects Europe and the UK culturally.
Adeline Dieudonné can certainly be described as the 2018 ‘phenomenon’ of Belgian French-language literature. Her first novel, La vraie vie, was hugely successful and won many prizes: Prix Rossel, Prix du roman Fnac, Prix Filigranes, Choix Goncourt de la Belgique and Prix Renaudot des lycéens. Translated into ten languages, this original debut has seduced many readers beyond the borders of Belgium.
Jenny Erpenbeck is one of Germany’s leading authors. Her novel The End of Days earned her the Europese Literatuurprijs. For her recent novel Go, Went, Gone, she spent a long time talking to refugees who were seeking their fortune in Germany. This book, in which she weaves the refugee question with the complex German history, won the Premio Strega Europeo, among others.
Writer and lawyer Rachida Lamrabet won the Flemish Debut Prize more than ten years ago with her novel Vrouwland. She recently published a trenchant essay titled ‘Zwijg, allochtoon!’ and the historical novel Vertel het niemand. For the Passa Porta Festival she will give the floor over to four young Flemish women writers from a migrant background. In new texts written for the 300th anniversary of Robinson Crusoe, they will reflect collectively on racism and decolonization, on the obligation to keep silent and the ability to speak.
Marie NDiaye was only 18 when she published her first novel, Quant au riche avenir. Her breakthrough followed with the Prix Femina 2001 for Rosie Carpe. In 2009 she won the Prix Goncourt for Three Strong Women. During the festival, Marie Ndiaye will talk about her multifaceted oeuvre (novels, youth books, theatre texts and short stories) and about her latest book, La Cheffe, roman d’une cuisinière.
Writer and poet Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer is among the most acclaimed Dutch-language authors. He won the Jan Cambertprijs with the poetry collection Idyllen and the Libris Literatuurprijs with the novel La Superba. This book was followed among others by the epistolary autobiography Brieven uit Genua, published in the prestigious series Privé Domein. His latest novel, Grand Hotel Europa, is being released this month.
Olga Tokarczuk is considered one of the greatest European authors of her generation. Having twice won the prestigious Nike Prize in her homeland of Poland, her novel Flights won the Man Booker International Prize in 2018. Her latest novel, The Books of Jacob (forthcoming), about the Central European Jews of the eighteenth century, was fine enough to reap literary prizes … but unfortunately also topical enough to stir up controversy and even to provoke death threats.
Ali Smith, once a well-kept secret among the literati (Sebastian Barry called her ‘Scotland’s Nobel laureate-in-waiting’) and now a public favourite, has written a series of sharp novels of ideas, among which the prize-winning How to Be Both. At the Passa Porta Festival, Ali Smith will present her latest novel, Spring, the third part in the acclaimed ‘Seasonal Quartet’ that began with Autumn (‘the first serious Brexit novel’, according to the Financial Times). It is therefore logical that, together with Jonathan Coe, Ali Smith will accompany the British Aurora Orchestra and star tenor Ian Bostridge during the lecture-concert Goodbye Hello on Friday 29 March.