Skip to content
Loading Events

Saturday 25 September 2021

Tijd: 14:00 - 19:00 Uur


Vredenburgkade 11 Utrecht

  • This event has passed.

ILFU Exploring Stories i.a. Roxane Gay, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Alfred Birney, Imbolo Mbue

Exploring Stories is a festival day on a wide range of current, urgent topics that depart from this year’s festival topic: Why Fiction Matters. International and Dutch authors, live and online, go into topics that matter, both in reality and in literature. If the past year has taught us anything, it is that the big issues of our time are all intertwined. Climate change, globalisation, capitalism and racial, cultural and economic inequality are global issues for which a univocal solution does not exist.
Although science and journalism map out reality, many invisible things remain. Literature searches for the truth behind the perceptible facts. In literature, it is not about the world as is, but about the world as it could be, whether that results in an enticing or a terrifying world. ‘I write books about possible, unpleasant futures in the hope that we will not allow those futures into reality,’ Margaret Atwood said at last year’s ILFU.

During Exploring stories you’ll discover new insights about the important matters of our time, discover new writers, and hopefully you’ll return home with new ideas and a sizeable bag filled with new books. 



View and download timetable

The writer as prosecutor: Roberto Saviano & Désanne van Brederode

Roberto Saviano, Italian journalist and author of the book Gomorrah, wrote a fiery piece in response to the murder of Peter R. de Vries about The Netherlands and crime. He joins author Désanne van Brederode in conversation about truth and crime.
Italian and Dutch spoken [simultaneous interpreter]


Climate issues and oil spills: Imbolo Mbue & Rebekka de Wit

Imbolo Mbue’s second novel, How Beautiful We Were, is about the battle of a fictional African village with an American oil company. Mbue talks to writer and director Rebekka de Wit of the theatre production De zaak Shell (in English: The Shell Trail).
English spoken


Repressed words, writing about sexual abuse: Caroline Lamarche & Manon Uphoff

A program with Caroline Lamarche and Manon Uphoff, who both wrote about disruptive relationships and sexual abuse; Lamarche in La mémoire de l’air (The Memory of the Sky), Uphoff in her novel Vallen is als vliegen (Falling is like flying).
English spoken


How language shapes the world: Joyce Carol Oates  & Kristien Hemmerechts

Laurelled prolific writer and driven tweeter Joyce Carol Oates recently fiercely but humorously criticized the consequences of identity thinking on our language use. What words can we still use and what words can we no longer use?
English spoken


The Feminism of Maya Angelou with Sylvana Simons, Christine Otten & Raoul de Jong

Writer, performer, civil rights activist: charismatic Maya Angelou was all this. Not in the least she was an advocate for women’s rights, within and outside of the black community. Angelou is the Literary Master of ILFU 2021.
Dutch spoken


The politics of the personal: Lisa Weeda & Katerina Poladjan 

‘Why Fiction Matters’ is the theme of ILFU 2021. What role does fiction plays when mapping the politics and history of a country? Lisa Weeda wrote the novel Aleksandra, about her grandmother who was deported from Ukraine in 1942 and ended up in the German war industry, and about a family between East and West that just can’t get away from an area that seems never to find peace.  Interview by Daan Doesborgh.
English spoken


Representation and privilege: Roxane Gay & Samya Hafsaoui

Roxane Gay is writer and culture critic, author of among other books the most discussed collection of essays Bad Feminist. Bold, open and painfully honest, Gay writes about feminism, the body, being fat, vulnerability, strength and identity. She will be interviewed by Samya Hafsaoui.
English spoken


Women’s Rights and Islam: Ayaan Hirsi Ali & Lale Gül

Both barely need an introduction: authors Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Lale Gül, both high-profile for their books as well as their participation in the debate about freedom within a confining culture. How do they consider striving for freedom, independence and the impossibility of the way back?
English and Dutch spoken


Morality, Sex, Literature: Tahar Ben Jelloun & Abdelkader Benali

He’s a novelist, poet and essayist, Morocco’s most famous living author of today: Tahar Ben Jelloun. Abdelkader Benali talks to him on the occasion of the publication of his newest book: Le miel et l’amerture, a novel about problematic love affairs in a conventional society.
French and Dutch spoken [interviewer translates]


Old and new colonialism: Alfred Birney & Gustaaf Peek

How colonialism shapes our history as well as our present is one of the great themes of writer Alfred Birney. He speaks with Gustaaf Peek, whose new book A.D. discusses the early days colonial rule in Indonesia. A conversation on the wings of history, knowledge and imagination.
Dutch spoken


Friction, data, AI: the intelligence of the future: Jeanette Winterson & Miriam Rasch
The conversation with Jeanette Winterson will take place online from 24 September on. Ticketholders will recieve a link to watch this Book Talk for free.

Regular price: € 25,00

ILFU Members price: € 20,00

NB Combine your visit to Exploring Stories on Saturday afternoon with the ILFU Book Talk with Édouard Louis Saturday evening. A combination ticket for the afternoon and evening is € 32,50 instead of €45. As long as stocks last. 


Class violence:
Édouard Louis & Sinan Çankaya

The adaptation for the stage of his book Who Killed My Father, and no less than two new books, Combats et metamorphoses d’une femme and Dialougue sur l’art et la politique with Ken Loach, Édouard Louis is the centre of attention. He talks to sociologist and author Sinan Çankaya about his work and his background.

Please note: This Book Talk is a separate event on September 25th.


Scroll To Top