UC Berkeley's Dutch Studies Program dates back to 1966 and has meanwhile developed into the nation's leading intellectual center for the study and research on the Low Countries (the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg).
The Netherlands used to be considered a European model for progressiveness and for the successful integration of immigrants. However, the murders of the politician Pim Fortuyn (in 2002) and the filmmaker Theo van Gogh (in 2004) have forced the country to reconsider its policy. The self-confidence of the past has recently given way to a critical reflection on Dutch identity. The achievements of globalization, multiculturalism and even the European Union have been called into question and the country has adopted a much more restrictive immigration policy. In contemporary Dutch literature, however, an alternative voice can be heard.
The author of this book was born in 1954 in Iran. As a university student, he joined an underground movement that first rebelled against the Shah and later against Khomeini. For his clandestine publications, he adopted the alias Kader Abdolah in honor of two of his comrades in the underground who were assassinated by Iran’s successive regimes of oppression. In 1988, he reached the Netherlands where he received political asylum. Little by little, he began to master the Dutch language. Abdolah’s literary career in Dutch began in 1993. His debut was an astonishing success and paved the way for a career that would lead him to the top of contemporary Dutch literature. In addition to his work as a novelist, he became a weekly columnist. Fifty of his columns appear here. Kader Abdolah is widely seen as one the most original and thought-provoking voices in the debate on the profound transformations that are taking place in Europe in consequence of the immigration in the lastdecades.
This interview took place at Hugo Loetscher's house in Zurich in July 2005.