The six nominees for the 2023 Libris Literature Prize, for the best Dutch-language novel of the year, have been announced. These are the Dutch Anjit Dangy, Aweke de Jong, Donald Niedeker, Peter Zanting, the Flemish Yves Petry and Peter Therrien.
The jury, led by historian and professor Beatrice de Graaf, read a total of 235 fiction books to come up with this six-book selection. The winner will receive €50,000 and will be announced live on May 8th news hour.
Chairman of the jury de Graaf for the six nominated books:
Beatrice de Graaf on the nominees for the Libres Prize for Literature
After reading 235 books on the longlist, the jury concluded that literature is changing. Because the world is also changing, for example as a result of current topics such as Corona and the Ukraine war. Moreover, the novels are more diverse and cross-genre than ever before, says the jury. “Gender identity, discrimination, inequality, nature and climate are more than ever part of the endless array of literary themes.”
Finally, the jury noted that writers are increasingly creating novels about personal crises. “The number of self-help books turned out to be overwhelming.”
Last year Mariken Heitmann won the award for her book Wormmaan. Other famous previous winners are Connie Balmain (2016), Adrian van Dis (2015), Tommy Wieringa (2013) and Dimitri Verholst (2009).
Read below a summary of the jury’s reports for the six nominated books:
Anjeet Dangi – The Song of the Stork and the Camel
This is a fascinating literary search that takes the reader from Yorkshire in the nineteenth century, through World War I in Picardy and finally to Groningen in the twenty-first century. Dangy wrote a crossover novel about birth and death, abandonment and entrapment, love and hate, faith and unbelief.
Oek de Jong – A man without a driver’s license
A story in which the narrator tries to get his driver’s license at a late age. But the novel offers much more than that: a life under a magnifying glass, a reflection on the past, on the memories that surface. For De Jong, learning to drive becomes a symbol of learning to live.
Donald Niedecker – Correct descriptions of permafrost
Niedekker gives the floor to Bartolomeo, a fictional crew member of Willem Barents’ infamous Arctic expedition in 1596. The ghost of this poetic sailor escapes after four centuries of thawing permafrost due to global warming and is still reporting on the failed expedition.
Yves Petrie – People are everywhere
A book about climate rage. A compelling journey through the thoughts of a forest ranger with Waldschmers, an outsider trying to control the demons in his head during a brain walk. He is outraged by man’s devastating impact on nature. In order not to fall prey to complete insanity, he plans a murder.
Peter Therin – Event
A book that searches, digs, asks questions, and stirs emotions. A novel that takes the reader into a labyrinth of human relationships that offers a new surprise, another mystery at every turn. The characters all revolve around the literary legacy of Willem, a famous writer who recently passed away.
Peter Zanting – Temporary
The story of a father who took the train with his son to travel to his wife who lives in Germany for work. Why is Robin already on his way to his wife? what is going on? As the train moves and the landscape flashes, Robin loses his certainty. A wonderful and absolutely beautiful novel about love, hope and uncertainty.
“Unable to type with boxing gloves on. Freelance organizer. Avid analyst. Friendly troublemaker. Bacon junkie.”
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