Meet UCL Dutch Writer in Residence 2023: Simone Atangana Bekono

3 March 2023

UCL Dutch is delighted to welcome 2023 writer in residence Simone Atangana Bekono; the Netherlands’ most exciting new literary talent, poet and novelist.

Simone Atangana Bekono




For many years now, Dutch Studies has been hosting a literary translation project, in which the writer in residence collaborates with our final year students to produce a literary translation to be published on a Low Countries or international literary platform or publication.

Simone Atangana Bekono (b. 1991) first came to prominence as a poet. Her 2017 collection ‘How the first sparks became visible’ was widely acclaimed, translated to multiple languages and won the Poetry Debut Prize Aan Zee. ‘Confrontations’, her first novel, was shortlisted for the prestigious 2021 Libris Literature Prize. The book was awarded the Hebban First Novel Award 2021, the prize for Best Book for Young Readers 2021 and the Anton Wachter Prize 2022. It will be published in the UK by Serpent’s Tail in an English translation by Suzanne Heukensfeldt Jansen in 2024.  Her latest novel ‘Zo Hoog Stond de Zon (The Sun Was This High In The Sky)’ came out at the end of last year.

 UCL Dutch finalists are working on a translation of an excerpt of this novel, in collaboration with Dutch students at the University of Sheffield, as part of the annual Translation Project, generously sponsored by the Dutch Language Union and the Dutch Literary Fund. Their translation will be published on the De Lage Landen/The Low Countries platform. A video report of the 2022 translation project can be found here.

Atangana Bekono’s poetry constantly alternates between combativeness and tenderness, showing how the personal can be poetic and political at the same time. Her fiction likewise combines hard-hitting insight with great tenderness and subtle humour. Atangana Bekono will be at UCL 6th - 11th March and then visit the University of Sheffield. 

 You can now see staff and students at work in this impression of the 2023 language symposium at the University of Sheffield:

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://youtu.be/au8mN-vMNjk