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Karin Amatmoekrim writer-in-residence at Leiden University this autumn

Novelist and essayist Karin Amatmoekrim will be writer-in-residence at Leiden University in autumn 2019. She will be the 35th writer-in-residence at the University.

Amatmoekrim will give a series of creative writing lectures from September to November. In these lectures, Amatmoekrim, who is working on a biography of Dutch-Surinamese writer Anil Ramdas, will look in particular detail at different forms of life writing. She will look with students at writing autobiography and biography in a new world. 

Albert Verwey Lecture

A permanent fixture on the agenda of the writer-in-residence is the Albert Verwey Lecture, which Amatmoekrim will give at 17.15 on Wednesday 30 October in the Academy Building at Leiden University. The Albert Verwey Lecture is open to all. The series of lectures is open to students from all disciplines; registration in advance is compulsory.

Karin Amatmoekrim is the writer-in-residence at Leiden University in 2019. (Photo: Sacha de Boer)
Karin Amatmoekrim is the writer-in-residence at Leiden University in 2019. (Photo: Sacha de Boer)

The identity of the outsider

Karin Amatmoekrim (Paramaribo, 1976) has written six novels as well as short stories and essays, for De Correspondent news website, among others. Her novels are always about the identity of the outsider and are sometimes autobiographical, sometimes semi-autobiographical and sometimes fake autobiographical, as was De man van veel, from 2013. Can we escape from the identities that are imposed upon us by ourselves and others? That is the question that she explores in her novels. 

Biographical writing

Her characters have to disengage from the view from outside to become the person that they really are. Amatmoekrim, for whom writing was ‘never a given,’ as she has explained in interviews, will look together with the students at what it means to describe yourself. Which experiences, memories, identities and forms of the truth does one come across? She will also teach the students about biographical writing and will take them to the archive of the Museum of Literature in The Hague, to look for ego documents by Surinamese writers.

Writer-in-residence at Leiden

The post of writer-in-residence was established at Leiden University in 1985 and is a partnership between the University and the NRC Handelsblad newspaper. It gives students and lecturers the opportunity to come into contact with a well-known writer. They meet someone who is used to looking differently at the world around them and to thinking and expressing their thoughts in a different way from what is customary at the University. The post of writer-in-residence is from September to November.

The first writer-in-residence at the University was Gerard Reve in 1985. He was followed by writers such as Judith Herzberg, Frans Kellendonk, Anna Enquist, Renate Dorrestein, Arnon Grunberg, P.F. Thomése, Joke van Leeuwen, Alfred Schaffer and, last year, Stefan Hertmans. A collection of 15 Albert Verwey Lectures, Dit is voor mij geschreven, was published in 2000. Wij, de mens was published in 2018: a book about the search by Frank Westerman (writer-in-residence in 2016) and Leiden students for the origin of modern humans.

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