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15 February 2019

Looking back: ILFU 2018 was magnificent

Photo © Anna van Kooij

In excess of 21,000 visitors descended on the first edition of the ILFU International Literature Festival Utrecht, which was held from 15 until 29 September 2018. The festival kicked off during the weekend of the annual Utrecht start of the cultural season with the Anna Karenina Marathon (in cooperation with UN Women), and the first edition of the Utrecht Book Market and ended with the biggest poetry event of the year, the Night of Poetry. During the two festival weeks 150 writers and artists took to the stage, including headline authors like Julian Barnes, John Irving and Salman Rushdie.

On the first Saturday of the ILFU the reading marathon started off: one thousand women read Tolstoj’s classic Anna Karenina, not just in Dutch but also in Russian, Slovenian, Hebrew, Friesian, sign language and dozens of other languages. The famous American writer Becky Albertalli was one of the speakers at YALFU, an afternoon for the many passionate readers of Young Adult novels. The legendary Turkish protest singer Selda Bağcan and her band Boom Pam captivated a 1,500 crowd at the Utrecht music venue TivoliVredenburg with her music based on poetry. The ILFU further presented the Night of the Novel, the Humanities Night together with Utrecht University, a festive Anna Karenina Gala Night as an ode to the world-famous book by Tolstoj, many Book Clubs, a Tolstoj exhibition in the Central Library, city walks with Utrecht poets and along Utrecht’s many bookstores, writers’ performances and of course the 36th Night of Poetry as its formidable closing event.

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