Here is a post by Peter Jordens on Surinamese anthropologist Roline Redmond, author of De Doorsons: Op zoek naar een Afro-Amerikaanse slavenfamilie in het Caribisch gebied [De Doorsons: In Search of an African American Slave Family in the Caribbean] and winner of the Brusse Prize.
NOS reports that this year, [Surinamese anthropologist] Roline Redmond has won the Brusse Prize for the best journalism book in the Dutch language, for De Doorsons: Op zoek naar een Afro-Amerikaanse slavenfamilie in het Caribisch gebied [De Doorsons: In Search of an African American Slave Family in the Caribbean]. The jury made the announcement during the radio program called NOS Met het Oog op Morgen. The Prize comes with a cash award of 10,000 Euros.
“I hope that thirty years from now, people will know a bit more about Surinamese history”, was Redmond’s first reaction when she was announced as the winner.
In the book, Redmond describes the roots and history of her own Surinamese family. She worked on it for ten years. “I started because my mother, just before she was no longer able to talk, had asked me to document the history of the family,” she explained in NOS Met het Oog op Morgen. “It was not easy. My ancestors were slaves in Suriname. We do not have archives of slaves. The slaves did not have a name. They were ‘commodities.’ To determine, under such circumstances, who came before your parents was a very difficult process.”
According to the jury of the journalism book prize, Redmond’s book is “a great example of oral history, and journalism in its purest form […] in which the struggle and search for truth and new facts becomes tangible for the reader.” “The reader travels along with the author, step by step — an author who ends up telling the story of her ancestors with refreshing objectivity, thereby fulfilling her mother’s assignment. The history of slavery is documented such that it becomes visible, and moreover, will not be forgotten.”
For her book, Redmond spoke with relatives, among others, and traveled to Suriname for this purpose. “If I hadn’t, they might pass away and then there would not be anyone left to tell our family’s story,” she said. Even so, there were not many stories left, because people did not like to look to the past. “The people who were left would keep their mouth shut. They wanted to move on. It hurt too much to tell those stories.”
The jury, led by Joost Oranje, NOS Nieuws and Nieuwsuur coordinator for investigative journalism, considers all five books that were nominated for the Brusse Prize to be of high quality. But according to the judges, Redmond’s book will “still have meaning in ten years’ time.”. “It offers insight and describes one of the most discussed topics of our time. […] As a chronicler, the author fits in the tradition of Rie Brusse, after whom the Prize is named. This book is not only about archives and facts, but above all, about people, as Brusse exemplified.” […]
For the complete, original article (in Dutch), go to https://nos.nl/index.php/artikel/2433212-roline-redmond-wint-brusseprijs-voor-beste-journalistieke-boek. Translation by Peter Jordens.
The winning book:
De Doorsons: Op zoek naar een Afro-Amerikaanse slavenfamilie in het Caribisch gebied
Amsterdam: De Arbeiderspers, 2021
ISBN 978-9029543651 (pb)