European Literature Night 2023: Between Utopia and Dystopia

Forum on European Culture

programme editor
Europe has a long tradition of utopian and dystopical novelists. ‘Utopia’ from the sixteenth century by Thomas More or ‘Brave New World’ from the twentieth century by Aldous Huxley. But what future do contemporary authors envision? Should literature alert us, congratulate us, or inspire us with hope?

Through talks, recitals and exchange, ten European writers explore utopian and dystopian mirrors for present-day society.

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20:00 – 20:10
Introduction | The European tradition of utopia and dystopia
Meelis Friedenthal (Estonia) gives a lecture about the role of utopian and dystopian fiction, from the 17th century until today.

20:10 – 20:30
Part I | Historical and speculative fiction as mirrors for present-day society
Meelis Friedenthal (Estonia) and Franco Tirletti (Italy) exchange thoughts on mixing historical and prophetic elements in their novels ‘ ‘The Bees’ and ‘The Indonesian mirror’.

20:30 – 21:00
Part II | Against apocalypse: Finding hope in utopian poetry
Iuliana Alexa (Romania) and Indrė Valantinaitė (Lithuania) read their poems and, by analysing each other’s work, talk about the power of utopian writing.

21:00 – 21:15    BREAK

21:15 – 22:00   
Part III | AI and Literature: Friends or enemies?
Berit Glanz (Germany), Klára Vlasáková (Czech Republic), Carmelo Rodrigues and Willy Lomana (Spain) discuss the relation between literature, creativity and technological innovations.

22:00 – 22:30   
Part IV | Is the Western world view too utopian?  
Dallila Hermans (Belgium) and Haska Shyyan (Ukraine) on the blind spots for Western future thinkers and writers.

The evening will be concluded with a performance and reflection by Aafke Romeijn (The Netherlands)

About the speakers

Meelis Friedenthal is an Estonian academic and writer whose research topic is now intellectual history of the 17th century, but used to be theology. He wrote the dystopian book the Golden Age (Kuldne aeg).

Franco Tirletti is an Italian-Dutch author and translator who contributes to the Enciclopedia delle Donne in Milan by writing articles about Dutch women who have ties to Italy but are not well known there. He publishes short stories, and he wrote the novel Lo Specchio Indonesiano. He coordinates cultural events while living in Amsterdam.

Iuliana Alexa is a writer who now works for the European Parliament in Brussels as a communication expert. She was the editor-in-chief of the Romanian magazine Psychologies. She wrote the book Why I left Romania, which comprises 27 declarations of people who emigrated from Romania and discusses themes like hope, fear and anger.

Indré Valantinaitė is a Lithuanian poet who studied at the academy of arts in Vilnius and art management. She published her first book in 2006, called Of Fish and Lilies. She has also won various singing contests, sang in rock operas and works as a culture journalist. In total she published four poetry books that won multiple prizes.

Berit Glanz is a German-born writer and literary scientist living in Reykjavik. Her interests lie in media changes, modernization in the 19th century, Scandinavian film and the influence of digitalization on the production and reception of literature. She wrote four books, has a newsletter, is active on social media and writes essays.

Klára Vlasáková is a Czech writer, scenarist, dramaturg and publicist who studied journalism and gender studies, scenery writing and dramaturgy. Her debut Cracks can be read as a critique on the capitalist consumer society.

Willy Lomana & Carmelo Rodríguez are the creative directors and co-founders of CYW, an independent advertisement agency. They worked for companies like Heineken, Amnesty International, Amazon and Netflix. Their work has been rewarded at prestigious festivals in the world, such as Cannes Lions and FIAP.

Dalilla Hermans is a Belgian writer, born in Rwanda. She writes books about racism, African diaspora and the beauty of blackness, for example in her children’s book Brown Girl Magic. She also made a theater production ‘Her(e)’ about sisterhood. Within her activism she focuses on representation and empathy.

Haska Shyyan is a Ukrainian writer. She studied classical philology at Lviv University. Her novel ‘Behind the Back’ won the EU Prize for Literature and multiple other Ukrainian prizes. Her work touches subjects like war, femininity, freedom of thinking and dealing with taboos.

Aafke Romeijn is a writer, journalist and musician, writing and singing about politics and feminism . In 2018 she published her debut novel Concept M that was nominated for best book for young adults. A year later she produced her album M, the soundtrack to her novel. In 2020 she published her first collection of poetry Leegstand.

Forum on European Culture 2023

From 31 May until June 4, the 4th edition of the Forum on European Culture takes place. Artists, activists and intellectuals from all over the world come together to explore the meaning and future of democracy in Europe. For the full programme, see


Berit GlanzGerman writer | Photo: Christina Raytsiz
Dalilla Hermans Belgian writer
Indrė ValantinaitėLithuanian writer | Photo: Vaivos Abromaitytės
Carmelo Rodríguez & Willy LomanaSpanish writers
Iuliana AlexaRomanian writer
Meelis FriedenthalEstonian writer | Photo: EU Prize for Literature
Franco TirlettiItalian writer
Klára VlasákováCzech writer
Haska ShyyanUkrainian writer
Aafke RomeijnDutch writer, journalist, musician | Photo: Bianca Toeps