According to renowned writer Suketu Mehta the West is being destroyed not by immigrants but by the fear of them. That is why we need a new story, a new narrative around migration. Far from Western hypocrisy and close to Western colonial history. Mehta believes migrants contribute both to the places they leave and the places they go to. In De Balie he discusses his new book This Land is Our Land and he makes – against ruling opinions – a case for more migration.

Through an exchange of letters Mehta goes into dialogue with his writer colleague Abdelkader Benali to review their role as writers and how to become better storytellers than populists. Artist Ehsan Fardjadniya leads a Migration Quiz: are we aware of our need to categorize people?

Drawing on his own experience as an Indian-born teenager growing up in New York City and on years of reporting around the world, Mehta subjects the worldwide anti-immigrant backlash to withering scrutiny – in fiction and non-fiction.

This programme is freely accessible to We Are Public members

© Image: Good Migrant, Bad Migrant? by Tjeerd Royaards

They fouled the air above us and the waters around us, making our farms barren, our oceans lifeless; and they were aghast when the poorest among us arrived at their borders, not to steal but to work, to clean their shit, and to fuck their men.

Paragraph from: This Land is Our Land


Suketu Mehta is the author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the Kiriyama Prize and the Hutch Crossword Award. His work has been published in the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Granta, Harper’s, Time, and GQ. He has won a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Whiting Writers’ Award, and an O. Henry Prize. He was born in Calcutta and lives in New York City, where he is an associate professor of journalism at New York University.

Moroccan-Dutch writer and journalist Abdelkader Benali migrated to the Netherlands when he was four years old. His second novel, De langverwachte (The Long-awaited) won him the prestigious Libris Literature Award. Benali’s subjects vary, but sports and the migrant who never really feels at home are recurring themes.

Most work of Ehsan Fardjadniya (Kurdish, Iranian, Dutch) is about re-defining the role of art as a catalyst of change. Especially in asylum and migration cases. His most recent work ‘Refugee on Trial’ examined the Dutch asylum system by re-enacting a real court case of an Afghan asylum seeker.