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Ian Buruma

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Writer, historian



Erasmus Prize


Samuel Johnson Prize

Ian Buruma

Ian Buruma wwwisgeschiedenisnlwpcontentuploads201311B

December 28, 1951 (age 72) The Hague, Netherlands (

China, Japan, Occidentalism, Orientalism

Leiden University, Nihon University

Year Zero: A History of 1945, Murder in Amsterdam: The Deat, The wages of guilt, Occidentalism: The West in the Eye, Inventing Japan

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From the ruins of empire pankaj mishra and ian buruma the new school

Ian Buruma (马毅仁, born December 28, 1951) is a Dutch writer, editor and historian who lives and works in the United States. In May 2017, he was named editor of The New York Review of Books, where he is scheduled to take charge in September 2017.


Ian Buruma Zcalo Public Square Ian Buruma

Much of his writing has focused on the culture of Asia, particularly that of China and 20th-century Japan. He was the Paul W. Williams Professor of Human Rights and Journalism at Bard College from 2003 to 2017.

Ian Buruma Midnight Eye interview Ian Buruma

Martin Amis and Ian Buruma on monsters - The New Yorker Festival

Life and career

Ian Buruma headshotjpg

Buruma was born and reared in The Hague, Netherlands, to a Dutch father and British mother. He studied Chinese literature and history at Leiden University, and then Japanese film at Nihon University in Tokyo, Japan. His wife is the Japanese historian Hotta Eri.

He lived in Japan from 1975 to 1981, where he worked as a film reviewer, photographer and documentary filmmaker. During the 1980s, he edited the cultural section of the Far Eastern Economic Review in Hong Kong. He later traveled throughout Asia working as a freelance writer. Buruma is a board member of Human Rights in China and a fellow of the European Council of Foreign Relations. Buruma has contributed numerous articles to The New York Review of Books since 1985. He held fellowships at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin (1991) and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. (1999), and he is a fellow of St Antony's College in Oxford, UK. In 2000 he delivered the Huizinga Lecture (on "Neoromanticism of writers in exile") in the Pieterskerk in Leiden, Netherlands.

From 2003 to 2017 Buruma was Luce Professor of Democracy, Human Rights & Journalism at Bard College, New York. In May 2017, he was named editor of The New York Review of Books, where he is scheduled to take over as editor in September 2017. as successor to founding editor Robert B. Silvers, who held the position until his death in March 2017. He has won several prizes for his books, including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay for Theater of Cruelty. He has held a number of editorial and academic positions and has been termed a "well-regarded European intellectual".

Buruma is a nephew of the English film director John Schlesinger, with whom he published a series of interviews in book form.


Buruma argues for wholehearted British participation in the European Union because they are the "strongest champions in Europe of a liberal approach to commerce and politics".


In 2008 Buruma was awarded the Erasmus Prize, which is awarded to an individual who has made "an especially important contribution to culture, society or social science in Europe".

He is among the 100 top global thinkers of 2010, as selected by the Foreign Policy magazine. Foreign Policy explained his contribution as a public intellectual:

Many liberals these days seem at pains to establish their bona fides as tough-minded hawks when it comes to global threats, but the Dutch man of letters has made a career out of affirming the classic liberalism of the open-door variety. His writing in recent years has attracted the ire of critics who think he equivocates on the dangers of radical Islam, but Ian Buruma made his response this year with a typically judicious and politically relevant book, Taming the Gods, that reflects on the Western capacity for religious pluralism. According to Buruma, Western society is robust enough to embrace even illiberal practices, so long as these are not violent. "Living with values that one does not share", he wrote in a recent column on France's burqa ban, "is a price to be paid for living in a pluralist society".

In April 2012, he was awarded the Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life at the Princeton Theological Seminary.


  • The Japanese Tattoo. Weatherhill. 1980. ISBN 978-0834801493.  with Donald Richie
  • Behind the Mask: On Sexual Demons, Sacred Mothers, Transvestites, Gangsters, Drifters, and Other Japanese Cultural Heroes. New American Library. 1983. ISBN 978-0452010543. 
  • A Japanese Mirror: Heroes and Villains of Japanese Culture. London: Jonathan Cape. 1984. ISBN 978-0224020497. 
  • Tokyo: Form and Spirit (1986) with James Brandon, Kenneth Frampton, Martin Friedman, Donald Richie ISBN 978-0-8109-1690-6
  • God's Dust: A Modern Asian Journey (1989) ISBN 978-0-7538-1089-7
  • Great Cities of the World: Hong Kong (1991)
  • Playing the Game (1991) novel ISBN 978-0-374-52633-7
  • The Wages of Guilt: Memories of War in Germany and in Japan (1994) ISBN 978-0-452-01156-4
  • Introduction for Geisha: The Life, the Voices, the Art (1998) by Jodi Cobb ISBN 978-0-375-70180-1
  • Voltaire's Coconuts, or Anglomania in Europe (UK title) (1998) or Anglomania: a European Love Affair (US title) (1999) ISBN 978-0-7538-0954-9
  • The Missionary and the Libertine: Love and War in East and West (2000) compilation ISBN 978-0-571-21414-3
  • De neo-romantiek van schrijvers in exil ("Neoromanticism of writers in exile") (2000) ISBN 90-446-0028-1
  • Bad Elements: Chinese Rebels from Los Angeles to Beijing (2001) ISBN 978-0-679-78136-3
  • Inventing Japan: From Empire to Economic Miracle 1853–1964 (2003) ISBN 978-0-679-64085-1
  • Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies (2004) with Avishai Margalit ISBN 978-0-14-303487-2
  • Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance (2006) ISBN 978-1-59420-108-0 winner of The Los Angeles Times Book Prize for the Best Current Interest Book.
  • Conversations with John Schlesinger (2006) ISBN 0-375-75763-5
  • Commentary on the History of China for the time period of The Last Emperor, The Criterion Collection 2008 DVDs (ASIN: B000ZM1MIW, ISBN 978-1-60465-014-3).
  • The China Lover (2008) novel ISBN 978-1-59420-194-3
  • Taming the Gods: Religion and Democracy on Three Continents (2010) ISBN 978-0-691-13489-5, with some historical examples of the value the separation of religion and national governance with the separation of church and state as one example.
  • Grenzen aan de vrijheid: van De Sade tot Wilders (Limits to Freedom: From De Sade to Wilders) (2010) ISBN 978-90-477-0262-7 – Essay for the Month of Philosophy in the Netherlands.
  • Year Zero: A History of 1945. New York, NY: The Penguin Press. 2013. ISBN 978-1594204364. 
  • Theater of Cruelty (2014)
  • Their Promised Land: My Grandparents in Love and War (2016)
  • Essays
  • Theater of Cruelty: Art, Film, and the Shadows of War ISBN 978-1590177778
  • China's class ceiling, published in the Los Angeles Times
  • The Pilgrimage from Tiananmen Square, The New York Times (1999)
  • References

    Ian Buruma Wikipedia

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