The Enigma of Arrival welcomes an emerging literary powerhouse

The Enigma of Arrival welcomes an emerging literary powerhouse

Feb 8, 2016 |  by  |  Art, Event
About the author
Born in Toronto, living in Amsterdam, Sara studies music and works as a writer and researcher in both cities. Here to try to help you find what Amsterdam has to offer.

John Freeman is no stranger to the literary world. A prolific writer and book reviewer fresh from a stint as editor-in-chief at Granta magazine, Freeman has proven a driven, relentless presence on the international literary scene since the early years of his career, which is why the immediate success of his latest venture, the biannual anthology Freeman’s, comes as no surprise. It’s this new project, and the themes that inspired it, that forms the basis for a free event at Athenaeum this Thursday.

The Enigma of Arrival is the Amsterdam launch for this new-on-the-scene literary anthology. Taking ‘arrival’ as the starting cue for its inaugural issue, Freeman’s compiles new fiction, nonfiction and poetry by emerging and established writers from around the world. For a brand-new publication where Freeman himself is delving into new, entrepreneurial territory, the choice of first theme is an apt one.

A writer’s anthology

Of all the early-stages literary journals out there, Freeman’s has what it takes to pull this one off. This first issue, published in October, features previously unpublished writing by such literary giants as Haruki Murakami, Lydia Davis and Anne Carson — the types of captivating authors who are famous for a reason — alongside the work of brand-new talents like Sudanese writer Fatin Abbas. And of course, Freeman’s record alone is enough to ensure that the journal will be curated with an expert hand.

“I want it to be a home for the long form, as well as writing that feels possessed, like only that writer could have done it,” Freeman explained two summers ago in an interview with Ron Charles of the Washington Post. “I hope it introduces new writers, and coaxes great ones to do something other than book-length writing.” When asked about his ideal reader, Freeman gave his vision for what the anthology is now already coming to represent: “People who are curious, crazed for fiction, morally engaged, disturbed by the status quo, and who want a reliable guide for the best writers alive.”


Thursday’s event, which will be co-hosted by Athenaeum with the Writers Studio Amsterdam and the Initiative for Narrative Journalism in the Netherlands, will feature Freeman in discussion with Euan Monoghan of UK literary magazine Structo, on arrival, storytelling, and the future life of the literary world in helping us make sense of change. Discussion begins at 17:30, with a Q&A and reception to follow.

Grove/Atlantic, which publishes Freeman’s in collaboration with the New School in New York, bills the journal as ‘an essential map to the best new writing in the world’. I’m inclined to believe them.

The Enigma of Arrival

When: February 11, 17:30-19:30
Where: Athenaeum, Spui 14
Entrance: Free
More info: Athenaeum website/

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