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Stefan Hertmans wins Constantijn Huygens Prize

Stefan Hertmans is the winner of the Constantijn Huygens Prize 2019. This award, worth €12.000, honors the entire oeuvre of a Dutch or Flemish author. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious literary prizes for Dutch-language literature.

Stefan Hertmans
© B. Praet

Hertmans made his international breakthrough with War and Turpentine, a gripping novel inspired by a few notebooks his grandfather had given him. The life of his grandfather turned out to be marked by his impoverished childhood in late nineteenth-century Ghent, by horrible experiences as a front soldier during the First World War and by his great love who died young; the rest of his life he spent turning his grief into silent paintings. The New York Times declared it one of ten best novels of 2016 and the rights were sold in more than 25 countries.

The audience has embraced this writer, who is highly regarded in the foreign press and in the Netherlands and Flanders.
Jury report Constantijn Huygens Prize
Awarding him with the Huygens Prize underlines this broad recognition and rewards a multifaceted and grand oeuvre.

The Convert is also based on historical facts. Hertmans tells the story of an eminent Christian damsel of the eleventh century who threw everything away for the love of a young Jewish man. He brings the Middle Ages to life with immense imagination and stylistic ingenuity. This is the story of three religions and a world going through massive change, a story of hope, love and hatred, a novel about a woman who can be certain of one thing: at home the death penalty awaits.

Hertmans is not only known as a novelist, but also as a poet and a writer of travel reports, theatre plays, philosophical essays and monographs about art. He is the seventh author from Flanders to win the Constantijn Huygens Prize, following the footsteps of Willem Elsschot, Louis Paul Boon, Maurice Gilliams, Hugo Claus, Leonard Nolens and Tom Lanoye.

Sep 27th, 2019