Writer in Residence Programme 2010

Victor LaValle stays as WIR in Amsterdam

1 September 2010 - 31 January 2011

Young writer Victor LaValle (USA) is the author of the short-story collection Slapboxing with Jesus and the novel The Ecstatic. His most recent novel is titled Big Machine.

His work often deals with the lives of young African-American and Latino men in New York. The characters range from morbidly obese college dropouts to ex-junkies who survived a suicide cult. LaValle is not afraid to focus on the fringes of society. His stories “are incredibly human and alien at the same time” one reader stated. In 2009 both the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post chose Big Machine as Best Science Fiction & Fantasy title of the year. Athenaeum Booksellers Amsterdam tipped Big Machine as the best Anglo-American novel of 2009.

LaValle writes primarily fiction but has also written essays and book reviews for Essence Magazine, The Fader, and The Washington Post, among others. However, besides the world of literature he is equally interested in the power of film. Victor LaValle was invited for a five months stay in Amsterdam by the Dutch Foundation for Literature and Binger Fimlab to participate in the international Writers and Creative Producers Lab 2010. Binger’s Writers Lab is aimed at developing new feature film projects. This means LaValle will get the opportunity to work on the adaptation of his novel Big Machine - and to realize his ambition to “revolutionize the idea of what a film with black people in it looks like”. He wants his work to be as universal as possible and still be rooted in the world he is familiar with.

LaValle graduated with a degree in English from Cornell University and a Master of Fine Arts Program of Creative Writing at Columbia University. He has been the Distinguished Visiting Writer at Mills College in Oakland, California and a Visiting Assistant Professor at Columbia University. He is currently a visiting professor at Adelphi University.

In 2010, literary magazine Tirade published the story ‘Wie we wel aanbaden’. This is the Dutch translation by Inge van Balgooij, Hilde Kruithof, Marleen Masselink and Astrid Huisman of ‘Who we did worship’, one of the stories from LaValle’s Slapboxing with Jesus. On account of this publication, writer Ton Rozeman visited Victor LaValle to talk about the dark side of writing. Read the interview here.

Fleur van Koppen


Fleur van Koppen

Programme officer

[email protected]