‘Heb je dat, betrokken blanke wereldburger?’ | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 136, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0040-7550
  • E-ISSN: 2212-0521



The so-called refugee crisis has triggered manifold responses in the field of European art and literature. This paper discusses two works by the Dutch writer Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer as examples of Dutch ‘refugee crisis literature’: his highly acclaimed novel (2013) and the short-story ‘Fatou yo’ that was published in the text-collection (2015), but that is actually also a fragment from the aforementioned novel. I start my comparative discussion of these two texts by exploring the challenges and pitfalls in representing refugees in literature more in general, focusing on the seemingly inescapable trope of refugee victimhood and the humanitarian and empathic mindset that ‘refugee crisis literature’ mostly requires from its reader. Then I embark on an analysis of the two texts and of the way in which, as I will demonstrate, the texts position and, ultimately, manipulate their empathic reader. I will argue that the discomfort that results from this manipulation is considerably more effective within the frame-work of than within the -collection, despite the latter’s explicitly activist agenda.


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