Jurypresident Lilianne Ploumen announced the six nominees for the Libris Literature Prize 2021 in Nieuwsuur. They are Simone Atangana Bekono, Gerda Bleed, Merijn de Boer, Jeroen Brouwers and Marieke Lucas Rijneveld and the Vlaming Erwin Mortier. The nominated books of Bleed and Atangana Bekono are debut romans.
The Libris Literature Prize is awarded to the best original Dutch novel of the past year. The winner receives 50,000 euros, and will be announced live on 10 May in Nieuwsuur. According to the jury, it was an amazing year. Both because of the versatility of the supply, and the conditions created by the coronavirus. “The lockdown cornered us at home and hearth, so what better than reading 210 written novels,” says in the jury report.
According to the jury, the shortlist contains titles that — even after two, three or four readings — continued to surprise: “Stories with their own eyes, a soul, a voice and sometimes polyphony, stories of writers who know what they do, what they do to the reader – or investigate it”.
Read more about the books of the six nominees below:
Confrontations, Simone Atangana Bekono
The main character Salomé is a sensitive, clever young woman struggling with the racism in her environment. She has to stay in a juvenile detention center for six months because she violently assaulted two schoolmates who attacked her. The engine of the book is the inner life of Salomé: the offense, worries, fears, disappointment and anger.
We are light, Gerda Bleed
Blees first novel is inspired by the true story of four Dutch communists who decided to stop eating and instead live on light, air and love. Each chapter is told from a new angle and gradually reveals what happened to the three remaining people after the death of Communist Elisabeth.
The togetherness group, Merijn de Boer
“ Huh? Unbelievable,” says De Boer in his running pants, while he is about to bring his children to school. Correspondent Ties Brock surprises him at his home in Jerusalem:
A left-hand club of friends in the early eighties walks, crafts, cuddles and talks about politics for evenings. The diplomat Bernard has nothing to do with left-wing ideology, but decides to become a member, attracted to the warm atmosphere. When his crush on Liza leads to a passionate affair, it puts a bomb under the togetherness group.
De Boer himself has seen up close how such a group works. “The togetherness group really existed, my parents were members of it. I always thought that was great material to do something with. I just didnt know very well how and I had the disadvantage that I am not necessarily very idealistic myself,” he said shortly after he heard he was nominated.
Client E. Busken, Jeroen Brouwers
Client E. Busken is, against his will, in the closed department of Madeleine, a nursing home. Busken is deaf mute and can hardly move. But inside, hes still in full operation, despite his alleged dementia. The confused, but eloquent mind sharply perceives everything that is happening around him: his caregivers, fellow dements and the evil psychologists and psychiatrists.
The Immaculate, Erwin Mortier
The immaculate is a sequel to Mortiers debut novel Marcel, about the boy Marcel and his eponymous great-uncle. Great-uncle Marcel went down side by side fighting with the Nazis. In the future, Marcel is an adult and visits his grandmother Andrea, the sister of great-uncle Marcel. She is about to leave the family home, and so the family history comes back from under the dust.
Mortier is happy with the nomination, but stays calm under it. “I dont really have expectations. This may sound a bit arrogant, because getting nominated is very nice, but its not something that I want to make my lifes happiness depend on,” he said when he heard he was on the shortlist. “Every year I also see beautiful books coming out that do not appear on the lists. It depends on the jury, its a bit of a lottery in that area. But it is a pleasant lottery of course!”
My dear favor, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld
A 49-year-old vet develops an obsession with a 14-year-old boy girl with blonde hair like cornstalks and an ink-black fantasive. The girl mourns her dead brother, quotes world literature and writes lyrics by Kurt Cobain and Kate Bush on mourning cards. In her fantasy, she spreads her wings to fly away, but the vet wont let her escape.