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Kies de taal

UNITED KINGDOM

NETHERLANDS

GESCHREVEN DOOR

Natasha Brown

(GB)

VERTAALD DOOR

Nevorice Matheu

(NL)

Natasha Brown - 2

5 November 2021

Warren Ellis doesn’t need an interviewer, per se. He knows how to command a stage. By my count, host Roderik Six only squeezes in three questions during the hour-long talk. From those jumping off points Ellis riffs, amiably and interestingly, across years and cities, occasionally referring back to the titular piece of Nina Simone’s chewing gum he’d pinched from her piano at a performance in ‘99. Ellis has a violin case with him. He asks a woman in the audience, who’s never held one before, to take the instrument. What does she notice about it? Not much, really. Hesitating, she says it’s lightweight, and feels quite fragile. We in the audience chuckle, Ellis nods. Then, he explains that this is the only violin he’s used for the last twenty years. At every performance and every album recording, wherever he’s gone, this violin has come along with him. In the woman’s hands, the violin appears to tremble. It’s very precious, she says, finally. Now, Ellis is laughing. This, he announces to the room, is what he’s trying to get across about the chewing gum! The almost mystical significance that otherwise normal objects can take on, somehow.

Well! Today was my first full day in The Hague, After a morning of wandering, I’m beginning to get a sense of the city centre — which streets lead where and so on. Though I’m still unclear about where the pavements end and the roads begin. Or, crucially, when pedestrians are allowed to cross those roads. I’ll figure it out.

Before this evening’s Crossing Border event, I met the other eleven writers and translators in residence for the first time. I’d messaged with Nevorice and Tobi briefly before, so it was lovely to finally speak with them both in person. After spending so long in lockdown, such meetings seem to carry much more emotional weight . We all ate pizza, drank beers and fell into an easy, multilingual banter. Well, my banter was embarrassingly monolingual, although I’m working on my Dutch — “niet hamsteren" was today’s fun new phrase.

At the end of his talk, Warren Ellis once again took the violin out from its case. Much of the room leaned forward in anticipation, the case had sat beside his ankles all night, like Chekhov’s fiddle, buzzing with promise. I had never seen Ellis perform before. He began softly, still seated. Quick, dancing notes filled the room. Foot tapping as the tempo increased, he somehow created the sound of two violins, then five. Percussion, too, as the sharp clapping of his custom-made brogues punctuated the melody. Leaping up, he turned his back to us, literally stomping out a rhythm as the song took on a new energy. The room was captivated. He seemed to dance — what other word is there for it? — as he played, as his music swelled, a one-man phenomenon. At the end, the room erupted into a standing ovation. The show was over, but the festival is only just beginning.

What a start!

WAT HEEFT DIT VERHAAL GEÏNSPIREERD?

Natasha Brown

Meer van Natasha Brown en Nevorice Matheu

6 November 2021

Natasha Brown - 3 - Meetings

Illuminated in a cone of hazy blue light, Colson Whitehead appears ethereal, almost spectral. We’re in the Korzo Theatre Raven room again, the same place as last night, though now it’s reconfigured for a live band performance. The graduated rows of seating have disappeared in favour of a large dance flooresque area — standing room only, both of Whitehead’s events today have completely sold out — packed with people staring up at the double Pulitzer Prize winning author.

7 November 2021

Natasha Brown - 4 - Goodbyes

By 7:15pm, Juffrouw Idastraat is abuzz. A considerable queue of literary enthusiasts extends back from the Schuilkerk door, where security guys check wristbands and wave people through. We’re here to see the 2021 European Literature Prize awarded to Saša Stanišić and Annemarie Vlaming for the Dutch translation of Stanišić’s novel Herkomst, crowned “the best contemporary European novel translated into Dutch” of the last year.

4 November 2021

Natasha Brown – 1

Zie The Chronicles live tijdens Crossing Border 2021