5x International Literature Festival Utrecht

Literature matters! This is the message being relayed by the International Literature Festival Utrecht (ILFU), which is organising the annual literature festival in Utrecht, UNESCO City of Literature, in late September. As well as Book Talks with some of the world’s best authors, there will be a Young Adult Literature Festival Utrecht (YALFU), the Belle van Zuylen lecture, Exploring Stories and the NK Poetry Slam. The festival will conclude with the Night of Poetry.

23 September to 8 October, TivoliVredenburg (festival hub) and other locations around Utrecht. More info on

Header image: Literature vs. Traffic – © Gustavo Sanabira

Book Talk: Jonathan Franzen

The American author Jonathan Franzen will open this year’s festival with a talk about his latest novel Crossroads, his previous novels and the relevance of fiction in the current era. Crossroads tells the story of an American family in the Mid-West, on the crossroads of a moral crisis. As in all his novels, Franzen manages to suffuse the minor, personal life of this family into a larger, societal context. Book of the Year in many reviews and an instant New York Times bestseller.

23 September, Dom Church

Literature vs. Traffic

On 23 September, the traffic in a street in Utrecht city centre will make way for a stream of 10,000 luminous books. The installation illustrates ILFU’s theme for this year: the fiction behind the facts. The artists’ collective Luzinterruptus hopes that the installation will literally provide more room for fiction in the middle of a city. It is also intended as a silent protest against the effects of traffic and pollution on urban life. Noise and pollution are temporarily replaced by words, poems, whispering pages and soft light. This is also the last day of the writing and residency tour of ten Utrecht-based writers and organisers of Mooie Woorden. Their story for the 900th anniversary of Utrecht (with ‘a city without walls’ as its theme) will be presented along with this work of art.

23 September, location tba

Exploring Stories

This festival day is designed to show that literature belongs in the heart of social debate. If you want to understand the world, you need the imagination of writers to fathom, supplement, correct or upturn our view of that world in their novels and stories. This year, fictional authors will meet journalists, philosophers and academics, to discuss subjects such as climate, inequality, old and new colonialism, feminism and the war in Ukraine. They will include the British Olivia Laing and Sharon Dodua Otoo, the Malaysian Tash Aw, the Israeli Ayelet Gundar Goshenen and the European Literature prize nominee, Doireann Ní Ghríofa.

1 October, TivoliVredenburg

Young Adult Literature Festival Utrecht

Host Samya Hafsaoui interviews the best international and Dutch Young Adult writers, including the Syrian Zoulfa Katouh (As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow), the American Mackenzi Lee (Montague Siblings series), the German Laura Kneidl and the Dutch Rani de Vadder (Toxin), Stefan Raatgever (The story about a boy who jumped off a cliff and landed softly) and Nadine Swagerman (Aan de andere kant van geluk). All of these authors will be signing books afterwards at the YA market. And there’s a fun goodie bag for all visitors.

2 October, TivoliVredenburg

Maya Angelou film programme

Every year, ILFU pays special attention to a master from the literary greats. This year, you can watch films that uphold the legacy of American author, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou (1928-2014). For example, a documentary about Audre Lorde, Bell Hooks and The Price of the Ticket about the American writer James Baldwin.

27 and 28 September, Neude Library, 4 and 5 October, Slachtstraat Filmtheater

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