ECI Literature Prize 2017 for ‘The People Healer’
The People Healer, the most recent novel by Flemish author Koen Peeters, has been chosen as the winner of the ECI Literature Prize. This annual prize for the best literary novel written in Dutch was formerly known as the AKO Literature Prize.
The Professional Jury chose ‘The People Healer’ out of a list of more than 450 books written in Dutch. With this main prize, the author receives 50,000 euros and a sculpture. Peeters managed to convince not only the Professional Jury but also the Readers’ Jury. The Prize of the Readers’ Jury consists of 10,000 euros.
The jury chooses a clearly written book that goes beyond the anecdotal, a book that touches on the unspeakable and that teaches us not to seek the truth, but the source.Jury Report
‘The People Healer’ is a book about the invisible forces that control life, and about the immutability of these forces. The story interweaves the First World War, the Belgian colonial period in Congo and the present. The novel extends from the Flemish Westhoek, where the soil is full of fallen soldiers, to Congo, where Remi, a Jesuit missionary, and Koen, a young anthropologist, experience parallel events at different moments in time. This is also a clue for something indicating the presence of ‘spirits’.
Peeters is the sixth Flemish author to win the ECI/AKO. The previous Flemish laureates were Brigitte Raskin (1989), Erwin Mortier (2009), David Van Reybrouck (2010), Peter Terrin (2012) and Stefan Hertmans (2014).
Two other Flemish authors were shortlisted for the ECI Literature Prize 2017: Annelies Verbeke with her short story collection Hallelujah and Peter Terrin with his novel Yucca. They both won 5,000 euros.