Universiteit Leiden

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Bibi Dumon Tak new writer-in-residence

Author Bibi Dumon Tak will be the new writer-in-residence at Leiden University from autumn 2020.

The (annual) writer’s residency at Leiden University gives students and lecturers the chance to come into contact with a well-known writer, a person who creates literature and is used to seeing the world and expressing their ideas in a different way than we are used to at the University. The residency is generally three months per (academic) year.

Adults and children

The new writer-in-residence at the University, Bibi Dumon Tak (Rotterdam, 1964), is known for her children’s books but also writes adult fiction. Her work includes non-fiction for children and the children’s book week gift, Laika tussen de sterren. She won the Theo Thijssen oeuvre prize (awarded every three years) in 2018 for her literature for children and young adults. Her latest adult novel, De dag dat ik mijn naam veranderde, which is about her late sister, was published this year and attracted a lot of media attention.

In her work, Bibi Dumon Tak likes to give a voice to those who do not – or no longer – have one. To young prison inmates, for instance, in Rotjongens (2007). But it is mainly animals that take the leading role in her work. From Het koeienboek (2001), for example, to the award-winning Winterdieren (2011), the animal world is described factually yet with sensitivity and in a highly acclaimed style.

Bibi Dumon Tak

Fantasy and reality

This will be the 36th writer’s residency at Leiden University and Dumon Tak will give a series of lectures entitled The Truth in Stories. Anyone wishing to write non-fiction needs fantasy and anyone wanting to write fiction needs reality. The boundary between the two genres is thinner one might think. Anyone wishing to switch between stories for children and stories for adults has to be elastic, says Dumon Tak: elastic with language and elastic in thinking. Anyone wishing to switch between fiction and non-fiction must, above all, be able to tell a good tale.

Albert Verwey Lecture

A permanent fixture of the residency is a public lecture, the Albert Verwey Lecture, which Dumon Tak will give on 19 November 2020 at 17:00. For more information, also with regard to corona, watch the University events calendar.

Writer’s residency

The writer’s residency was established at Leiden University in 1985 and is in partnership with the NRC Handelsblad newspaper.

The first writer-in-residence was Gerard Reve. He was followed by writers including Judith Herzberg, Frans Kellendonk, Adriaan van Dis, Joost Zwagerman, Kees ’t Hart, Anna Enquist, Renate Dorrestein, Arnon Grunberg, Thomas Rosenboom, P.F. Thomése, Willem Jan Otten, Joke van Leeuwen and Tom Lanoye.

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