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XIII Leeuwarden

Europe-Ulysses (working title)

Vamba Sherif
Gender freedom in modern day Europe

Eighteen established writers, one from each city/region, will be commissioned to write a chapter in a response to their Arts & Society theme within the context of their city.

Just as Ulysses is innovative in its form and language, so the writers will be chosen with a view to reflecting a breadth of genres, styles and innovations. Each writer will ideally attend their own city’s event. All the (new) chapters from the 18 cities/regions will be brought together in a book publication: Europe-Ulysses (working title).

Writer’s Statement

Writer’s statement to follow shortly.

Writer’s Biography

Author Vamba Sherif is primarily known as a novelist, but has also contributed stories and journalistic pieces to publications such as The New York Times, the French magazine Long Cours (a subsidiary of L’Express), the German magazine Kultur Aaustauch, and various Dutch newspapers and magazines including Trouw, De Volkskrant, One World, and others. The author also occasionally explores acting and has a great passion for films, some of which he reviews on a monthly basis.

Born in northern Liberia, Vamba’s family included members from different parts of West Africa, including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Mali. As a result he grew up speaking languages such as Gbandi, Kissi, some Lomah, and Mende, which is spoken in Sierra Leone. His mother tongue is Mande or Mandingo, variations of which are spoken in Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Senegal. Vamba grew up in a family that valued scholarship and he was surrounded by books. He learned Arabic and English at an early age. Moving to Kuwait as a child broadened his awareness of the world’s diversity. Vamba lived in a neighbourhood with people of many nationalities and attended secondary school with students from countries such as The Maldives, India, Malawi, America, Palestine, Jordan, and Ghana.

While in Kuwait he discovered world literature, reading dozens of novels from The Heineman African Writers’ Series and immersing himself in the works of Chekov, Tolstoy, and Stendhal. He was amazed that a writer could evoke an ancient world as vividly as Flaubert did in Salambo and wrote long letters home in Arabic about his experiences living in a desert city-state and his fascination with life as a migrant in a wealthy country, exploring themes such as Arab hospitality and poetry. The first Gulf War forced Vamba out of Kuwait and into The Netherlands, where he studied law and improved his skills as a writer. It was in Europe that he became acutely aware of his outsider status being an exile from a country at war. The author’s quest for answers regarding his identity and the civil war in his country led him to write his first novel, The Land of the Fathers, a work exploring the founding of Liberia by freed blacks from America in the nineteenth century.

Link to Vamba Sherif’s website