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Natasha Brown



Nevorice Matheu


Natasha Brown - 4 - Goodbyes

7 november 2021

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. In her acceptance speech, Vlaming speaks of stewarding a ship carrying Stanišić’s words. In his, Stanišić condemns a bicycle thief (his red racing bike was stolen just last week) to increasingly dire lifelong inconveniences — before sharing that, of his many accolades, the European Literature Prize, with its emphasis on the artistry of translation, is his favourite. The atmosphere is light, but also sincere; Stanišić even speaks of the importance of lightness in his work, and its relationship to emotional depth. At the event’s end, a final round of applause for the winners thunders up from the pews.


There’s something special here, at the Crossing Border festival. Literature, language, and the bridging art form — translation — are celebrated in a way I’ve never seen before. Tonight, our residency at the festival ends. We stand around outside the Mercure hotel still talking, and laughing, into the early hours of the morning. Not quite ready for goodbyes.

A bigger, more rambunctious group, wearing ADDICT wristbands and drinking beer, has also gathered just inside the hotel lobby. It’s the industry professionals — the agents, editors and scouts. Our groups eventually intermingle. “Crossing Border is Frankfurt this year,” I overhear in the din, a stray note from the cacophony of pithy one-liners. It’s amazing that the staff indulge us all. But I’m glad they do. Amongst us writers, community is crucial, and we found it here during the festival.


A short piece today; I’m tired, it shows through my words. Clunky clauses, saccharine conclusions — I’m embarrassed to send it to Nevorice. I’ll postpone a discussion of The Chronicles’ grand finale, and my reflections on the last few days, to my next and final post.

Tot ziens.


Natasha Brown

Meer van Natasha Brown en Nevorice Matheu

14 november 2021

Natasha Brown - 5 - Back to normal

“Rail replacement bus” — three of the most depressing words in the English language. I heard them two days ago while on my way to Bridport, a lovely market town in the south of England, for the BridLit festival. Dutifully, the other passengers and I filed off the train to wait in the drizzle for the promised bus. It was more than worth it in the end; I arrived in time for my event, and thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere and conversation at the festival.

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.

5 november 2021

Natasha Brown - 2

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 ...

4 november 2021

Natasha Brown – 1

Since about March 2020, unprecedented restrictions have been imposed on everyday life. The world, for many of us, shrunk down to our immediate physical area, a sort of hyper-locality that was completely unimaginable ... until it became reality.

Zie The Chronicles live tijdens Crossing Border 2021