Former scholarship holders

Former scholarship holders of the Writers-in-Exile Programme:

Rohitha Bashana Abeywardane

©Simone Ahrend, sah-photo

Rohitha Bashana Abeywardane was born in Sri Lanka in 1972. He is a founder and later editor-in-chief of the alternative weekly newspaper Hiru, which was managed autonomously by the editors. In 2003, he organized the Sinhala-Tamil Art Festival. As a … Continue reading

Najet Adouani

© Simone Ahrend sah-photo

The Tunisian poet, writer and journalist Najet Adouani is a critic and author who actively supports freedom, peace and women’s rights. From April 2013 until April 2016, she was involved in the Writers in Exile Program of the German PEN Center. Continue reading

Cosmos Eglo Akoete

© Simone Ahrend sah-photo

Cosmos Eglo Akoete was born in Lomé, the capital of Togo, in 1963. He is a writer and human rights activist. While his house was being searched in 1992, soldiers destroyed his manuscript of an epic poem. He was arrested, … Continue reading

Svetlana Alexievich

© Maria Kabakowa

Svetlana Alexievich was born in Ivano-Frankivsk in the Ukraine in 1948. After studying journalism at the University of Minsk, she worked as a reporter and as a teacher. Her documentary prose has been translated into 28 languages, was, in part, … Continue reading

Claudia Anthony

© Christa Schuenke

Claudia Anthony was born 1963 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. During her studies at the University of Kiev, in March 1991, a brutal civil war broke out in her home country, and armed hordes indiscriminately massacred thousands of men, women and … Continue reading

Jorge Luis Arzola

Foto von Jorge Luis Arzola ©privat

Jorge Luis Arzola was born in Jatibonico, a small Cuban town, in 1966. When he was five, his family moved to a village in the center of the island, which Fidel Castro had ordered built in the early 1960s. He … Continue reading

Humayun Azad

Humayun Azad was born in Bangladesh in 1947.  After studying linguistics in Dhaka and Edinburgh, where he received his Ph.D., he became a full professor in 1986, teaching Bengali at the University of Dhaka.  His publications include about sixty works, … Continue reading

Alhierd Baharevich

©Yulya Tsimafeyeva

Alhierd Bacharevič was born in Minsk in 1975. He studied philology and Belarusian pedagogy at the Maxim Tank School and then worked as a teacher and journalist. His poems and stories have been published since 1992 in small magazines and … Continue reading

Sanath Balasooriya

© Simone Ahrend, SAH-PHOTO

Sanath Balasooriya was born in Sri Lanka in 1970. From January 2011 – December 2013, he held an Elsbeth Wolffheim grant from the City of Darmstadt. He continues working as a journalist, author and translator and lives in Darmstadt, Germany, with his wife Devika Wadigamangawa. Continue reading

Sihem Bensedrine

Sihem Bensedrine Foto: privat

Sihem Bensedrine was born in Tunis in 1950. At the end of the 1970s, she became active in the fight for human rights, by the early 1980s she had become a prominent figure in the Tunisian feminist movement. From 1985 … Continue reading

Abderrahmane Bouguermouh

© privat

Abderrahmane Bouguermouh was born in Izger Amokrane/Algeria in 1936. From 1962 to 1963, he studied at the Paris Film Institute and worked as a film director with the R.T. Française production company. His stance on the Berbers created difficulties for … Continue reading

Zaza Burchuladze

Zaza Burchuladze Foto: Simone Ahrend, sah-photo

Zaza Burchuladze was born in Tiflis in 1973 and describes himself as a contemporary postmodern novelist. Before he began to work as a writer and translator, he studied painting at the State Art Academy in Tiflis. He is the author of several novels, collections of essays, and short stories. Continue reading

Fethiye Çetin

©privat

Fethiye Çetin was born in Turkey in 1948. She grew up in Maden in the province of Elazig in eastern Turkey and studied law at the University of Ankara. After the military coup of 1980, she was arrested and convicted … Continue reading

Mehmet Selim Çürükkaya

© privat

Mehmet Selim Çürükkaya was born in a village not far from the Anatolian city of Bingöl in 1954. Until 1978, he studied to be a teacher in Tunceli. Even at college, he was politically active and was one of the … Continue reading

Roshanak Daryoush

© privat

Roshanak Daryoush was born in Iran in 1951. She moved to Germany with her parents, went to school there, graduated and became involved in the CISNOU, the Confederation of Iranian Students. She finished her studies in political science and sociology … Continue reading

Masoud Ali-Reza Espabod

©privat

Masoud Ali-Reza Espabod was born in Tehran in 1951. He studied Art at the College of Fine Arts for Boys and at the Academy of Decorative Arts in Tehran and then at the Academy of Arts in London. Since 1968, … Continue reading

Adam Guzuev

Adam Guzuev Foto: Simone Ahrend sah-photo

Adam Guzuev was born in Chechnya in 1970. He comes from a family of theater celebrities. His uncle, who was killed during a firefight in the Chechen war, was chairman of the Chechen broadcasting committee. After studying philology, Guzuev worked … Continue reading

Qassim Haddad

© Simone Ahrend, sah-photo

Qassim Haddad was born in 1948 in Muharraq/Bahrain. Even as an adolescent, he resented being coerced. He had problems with authority, dropped out of school and worked on construction sites to support his family financially. As a young man, he … Continue reading

Yamen Hussein

Yamen Hussein Foto: © Roland Baege

The Syrian poet and journalist Yamen Hussein was born in Homs in 1984. He wrote numerous articles critical of the Syrian regime, which soon attracted the attention of Syrian security organizations. Over and over again, he criticized in his articles the restrictive and manipulative interventions of the state into freedom of publication and the press and repeatedly protested against the total disregard for human rights during the civil war. Continue reading

Guobiao Jiao

© Independent Chinese PEN Centre

Guobiao Jiao was born in China in 1963. He taught at Peking University’s College of Journalism and Communications until 2004. Most likely as a result of his widely publicized article on the internet, in which he demanded the abolition of … Continue reading

Ahmet Kahraman

Foto von Ahmet Kahraman ©privat

Ahmet Kahraman was born in Bingöl, Turkey, in 1941. His book Bir Dönemin door Büyükleri (Great Turks of Our Times) brought on legal charges against him by those same “Great Turks”—two former emergency-governors, a former intelligence chief, a former army … Continue reading

Maynat Kurbanova

© Simone Ahrend sah-photo

Maynat Kurbanova was born in Grozny in 1974. She graduated from the Department of Journalism at the Chechen State University and worked from 1991 for various Russian mass media. Since the beginning of the Second Chechen War, she was a … Continue reading

Liu Dejun

©Simone Ahrend, sah-photo

The Chinese blogger and human rights activist Liu Dejun was born in the province of Hu Bei in 1976. From November 2013 to November 2016, he has taken part in the Writers in Exile Program of German PEN in Nuremberg. Continue reading

Amer Matar

© Simone Ahrend, sah-photo

The Syrian journalist and human rights activist Amer Matar was born in Rakka in 1987. He studied journalism and Damascus and was the co-founder of the Al-Shari organization that advocated for liberal media and development. In 2010 Al-Shari began to cinematically document the rebellion in Syria, which already had been on its way back than, by means of television interviews, reports and documentaries from within the Syrian heartland. Continue reading

Itai Mushekwe

© privat

Itai Mushekwe was born in 1983. He studied communication and journalism at the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA) in Harare, Zimbabwe. After graduating, he worked for the leading independent weekly newspaper The Zimbabwe Independent, where he wrote investigative articles … Continue reading

Jovan Nikolić

© Stefan Worring (KSTA)

Jovan Nikolić was born in Belgrade in 1955 and grew up on a Romany settlement near Čačak, Serbia. Since 1981, he has published numerous volumes of poetry as well as plays and satirical texts in Serbo-Croatian. He has won prizes … Continue reading

Ana Lilia Pérez

© Simone Ahrend sah-photo

The writer and journalist Ana Lilia Pérez was born in Mexico City in 1976. Her special subject is the corruption in her country and she addresses issues such as money laundering, human trafficking, organized crime and especially the appalling entanglement of politicians and businessmen with the mafia. From July 2013 to June 2014, she received a grant from the German PEN Writers in Exile Program and then returned to Mexico to continue her work there. Continue reading

Zhou Qing

©privat

Zhou Qing was born in Xi’an in Shaanxi province in 1964. He is a journalist, nonfiction writer, political reporter, and specializes in oral history. In 1989, he was sentenced to two years in prison for his involvement in the democracy … Continue reading

Khalil Rostamkhani

© Kaveh Rostamkhani

Khalil Rostamkhani was born in Iran in 1953. As early as at the age of 16, he protested against the Shah’s regime. In 1972 he left Iran and moved to Great Britain where he studied mathematics, physics, Persian and later … Continue reading

Faraj Sarkohi

©Simone Ahrend, sah-photo

Faraj Sarkohi was born in Shiraz, Iran in 1947. He studied sociology and Persian literature in Tehran and Tabriz. As a student, he participated in demonstrations against the Shah and wrote numerous articles critical of the regime. In 1971, he … Continue reading

Pinar Selek

Pınar Selek ©privat

Pinar Selek was born in Istanbul in 1971, attended a French high school there and studied sociology at the Mimar Sinan University. She helped to organize various protest events for the women’s movement and founded the feminist network Amargi (she … Continue reading

Mansoureh Shojaee

Mansoureh Shojaee Foto: privat

Mansoureh Shojaee was born in Tehran in 1958. For over 20 years, she has been one of the leaders of the Iranian women’s rights movement and her involvement in politics spans 30 years and more. She was a librarian at … Continue reading

Maxwell Sibanda

©privat

Maxwell Sibanda was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1968. He was only able to live and work in his homeland until 2004. The turning point in his career was the ban and the forcible closure of the Daily News in … Continue reading

Hamid Skif

© Christoph Piecha

Hamid Skif was born 1951 as Mohamed Benmebkhout in the Algerian port city of Oran. After having lived in Langenbroich as guest of the Heinrich Böll House in 1995-96, he held a scholarship from the Hamburg Foundation for the Politically … Continue reading

Shahla Sultanova

© PEN-Zentrum Deutschland

Shahla Sultanova is an Azerbaijanian journalist and media coach. She was born in 1980 and studied English Language and Literature Studies in Azerbaijan before she studied Journalism and Media Management in Georgia and the United States by means of several scholarships. Continue reading

Bui Thanh Hieu

Bui Thanh Hieu ©Simone Ahrend, sah-photo

Bui Thanh Hieu, born in Hanoi/Vietnam in 1972, is one of the best known bloggers in his country. He goes by the name “Nguoi Buon Gio“ (The Wind Dealer) and has been commenting on political development and social themes since 2005. Due to his activities, the license for his internet café in Hanoi was revoked. Continue reading

Amir Valle

Amir Valle Foto: privat

Amir Valle was born in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 1967. In Santiago de Cuba he studied journalism and in Havana he studied publishing. Since then, he has worked as a writer, literary critic and journalist. He has received numerous literary … Continue reading

(German) Abbad Yahya

Abbad Yahya Foto: © Roland Baege

(German) Der palästinensische Soziologe, Journalist und Autor Abbad Yahya wurde 1988 in Ramallah geboren. Er studierte Journalismus (Print und TV, 2009, Bachelor) und Soziologie (2013, Master) an der Birzeit Universität in Ramallah. Als Journalist, Moderator, politisch-kultureller Korrespondent und Redakteur arbeitete er für verschiedene Radiosender und Zeitungen. Continue reading

Sergei Zolovkin

Sergej Solovkin Foto: © privat

Sergei Zolovkin was born in Kok-Terek in the Dzhambul region, Kazakhstan, in 1952. At the University of Karaganda, he studied law and worked as a legal consultant for the Crime Commission in Kazakhstan. From 1979 to 1986, as a correspondent … Continue reading