Algerian writer Boualem Sansal opens new reading series at the Cluster of Excellence

First Annette von Droste-Hülshoff reading – Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” at the University of Münster invites writers from around the world to read from their work – Reading and discussion with Algerian writer Boualem Sansal on 30 January – He critically examines relations between politics and religion in Islamist and totalitarian regimes


Boualem Sansal gives the first Annette von Droste-Hülshoff Lecture at the Cluster of Excellence
Boualem Sansal gives the first Annette von Droste-Hülshoff Lecture at the Cluster of Excellence
© exc/Michael Möller
  • The speaker of the Cluster of Excellence, Prof. Dr. Michael Seewald, opens the Annette von Droste-Hülshoff reading
    © exc / Michael Möller
  • Romance scholar Prof. Dr. Karin Westerwelle gives an introduction into the life and work of Boualem Sansal
    © exc/Michael Möller
  • Boualem Sansal in dialogue with the audience
    © exc/Michael Möller
  • Actor and narrator Carsten Bender reads the German texts
    © exc/Michael Möller
  • Books by Boualem Sansal, from which the author read
    © exc/Michael Möller
  • Boualem Sansal with his latest work "Vivre. Le compte à rebours", which was published in France in January 2024
    © exc/Michael Möller
  • Romance scholar Dr. Pia Doering speaks about the works of Boualem Sansal
    © exc/Michael Möller
  • Reading by Boualem Sansal in the well-attended lecture hall
    © exc/Michael Möller
  • Passages from the novel "Rue Darwin" were also part of the reading
    © exc/Michael Möller
  • Afterwards, Boualem Sansal answered questions from the audience
    © exc/Michael Möller
  • from left to right: Romance scholar Dr. Pia Doering, Romance scholar Prof. Dr. Karin Westerwelle, Author Boualem Sansal, Actos and speaker Carsten Bender
    © exc/Michael Möller

Press release January 23, 2024

The Algerian writer Boualem Sansal will give the first Annette von Droste-Hülshoff reading at the University of Münster’s Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” on 30 January. According to Romance scholar Prof. Dr. Karin Westerwelle from the Cluster of Excellence, “the multi-award-winning writer and intellectual looks critically in his novels at relations between politics and religion, especially those shaped by Islamism and totalitarian regimes”. Sansal, who was awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 2011, will read from his work, including the novel 2084: The End of the World (2015) and the recently published Vivre: Le compte à rebours (Life: The Countdown). The reading, in French and German, is being organized together with the Institut français. The actor Carsten Bender will read the German-language texts. Admission is free.

From 2024, the Cluster of Excellence will be inviting to the Annette von Droste-Hülshoff reading every year international writers who deal in an artistically sophisticated way with the relationship between religion and politics. For, as Cluster of Excellence speaker Prof. Dr. Michael Seewald comments, “the relationship between religion and politics is the subject not only of academic research”. Rather, “it has also always been discussed in literature, which can express questions and nuances, dilemmas and conflicts, in a way that differs from the academic study of religion and politics”. The reading series is named after Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (1797-1848), a native of the Münsterland region and one of the most important writers in the German language. Michael Seewald: “Her critical view of religion and society makes her work relevant in many ways today”.

Boualem Sansal © Francesca Mantovani, Éditions Gallimard
© Francesca Mantovani®Éditions Gallimard

“Sansal writes against taboos, prohibitions and lethargy”

According to Karin Westerwelle, Boualem Sansal, the first author in the reading series, writes “against taboos and prohibitions, against lethargy and comforting ignorance – as in the work that he will be reading from in Münster”. The novel 2084: The End of the World is about the totalitarian world of the fictional Abistan, which is constructed after the “Great Holy War”. “In Abistan, individualism, free thought and the pleasurable life are eliminated, the language of the novel resembling the joyless life dominated by fear, violence and power. Sansal’s writing style attempts to depict nothingness and emptiness”, explains Westerwelle, who also points out that the title of his latest novel alludes to the global dangers that threaten humanity as a whole: Vivre: Le compte à rebours (Life: The Countdown).

Born near Algiers in 1949 and trained as an engineer, Sansal has received many awards for his work, which includes novels, political analyses, essays, and opinion pieces. He was honoured with the prestigious Grand Prix du Roman of the Académie française for his novel 2084: The End of the World (2015), whose title alludes to George Orwell’s 1984. (pie/fbu)

Reading and discussion with Boualem Sansal
30 January 2024, 6.15-7.45 pm, lecture theatre JO1, Johannisstr. 4, 48143 Münster

Prof. Dr. Michael Seewald, Sprecher des Exzellenzclusters „Religion und Politik“

Prof. Dr. Karin Westerwelle

Boualem Sansal reads
2084. Das Ende der Welt (2015)
Rue Darwin (2011)
Harraga (2005)
Abraham oder Der fünfte Bund (2020)
Vivre. Le compte à rebours (2024)

Carsten Bender, actor and speaker, reads the german lyrics.

Moderation and Translation
PD Dr. Pia Claudia Doering
Prof. Dr. Karin Westerwelle

The evening will be held in French and German.
Admission free