Astrid H. Roemer to Receive 2021 Dutch Literature Prize

A post by Peter Jordens.

The Surinamese writer Astrid H. Roemer (Paramaribo, 1947) will receive the 2021 Prijs der Nederlandse Letteren (Dutch Literature Prize) this fall. The Prize includes a sum of € 40,000. The Prime Minister of the Flemish Government and Flemish Minister of Culture, Mr. Jan Jambon, has announced this on behalf of the Committee of Ministers of the Taalunie (Dutch Language Union). Astrid H. Roemer is the first Surinamese author to be awarded the Dutch Literature Prize.

“With her novels, plays and poems, Astrid H. Roemer occupies a unique position in the Dutch-language literary landscape. Her work is unconventional, poetic and lived-through. Roemer succeeds in connecting themes from grand history, such as corruption, tension, guilt, colonization and decolonization, to ‘small’ history, i.e., human-sized stories,” says the Jury chaired by Prof. Yves T’Sjoen.

Astrid Heligonda Roemer was born on April 27, 1947 in Paramaribo (Suriname). She made her debut in 1970 under the pseudonym Zamani with the collection of poetry Sasa: ​​mijn actuele zijn, and since then has published not only poetry but novels and plays. Roemer’s narrative prose forms the most important part of her oeuvre, including her magnum opus: the trilogy Gewaagd leven (1996), Lijken op liefde (1997) and Was getekend (1998). Her most recent work, Gebroken Wit, was published in 2019. Themes such as migration, sexual orientation, racism and emancipation play an important role in her work. Characteristic are the wealth of images and symbolism and her experimentation with different styles and narrative structures. In 2016 Astrid H. Roemer received the P.C. Hooftprijs for her entire body of work. (See our previous posts https://repeatingislands.com/2015/12/17/astrid-roemer-wins-prestigious-pc-hooft-literary-award and https://repeatingislands.com/2016/05/27/author-astrid-h-roemer-receives-2016-p-c-hooft-prize.)

The Prijs der Nederlandse Letteren is the most prestigious literary prize in the Dutch language area and distinguishes authors of important literary works originally written in Dutch. The Prize is awarded once every three years to an author whose body of work occupies an important place in Dutch literature. The Prize is funded by the Taalunie. It is organized alternately by Literatuur Vlaanderen and Nederlands Letterenfonds.

The purpose of the Prize is to draw attention to Dutch-speaking culture, both within and outside the Dutch language area. The Prize also underlines the fact that high-quality literature is written in Dutch. The Prize is awarded alternately by the Dutch and the Belgian Monarch. In October 2021, Belgian King Philippe will confer the Prize to Astrid H. Roemer in Brussels (subject to possible corona measures).

The complete, original press release (in Dutch) is available at https://prijsderletteren.org/2021_persbericht_uitreiking.

The above photo of Astrid H. Roemer is credited to photographer Raúl Neijhorst.

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