Dutch Caribbean Writer Astrid Roemer Wins the 2021 Dutch Literature Prize
Astrid H. Roemer is the first Surinamese author to receive the Dutch Literature Prize. The prize is the most prestigious literary award in the Dutch language area and includes a sum of 40,000 euros. ‘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’, according to the jury.
Astrid Heligonda Roemer was born on 27 April 1947 in Suriname's capital Paramaribo. She made her debut in 1970 under the pseudonym Zamani with the collection of poetry Sasa: mijn actuele zijn (Sasa: my present being), and since then has published not only poetry but also novels and plays. Roemer’s narrative prose forms the most important part of her oeuvre, including her magnum opus: the trilogy Gewaagd leven (Daring life, 1996), Lijken op liefde (Looks Like Love, 1997) and Was getekend (Signed, 1998).
Her most recent work, Gebroken Wit (Less Than White), 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 oeuvre.
The Dutch Literature Prize is the most prestigious literary prize in the Dutch language area. It draws attention to the Dutch-speaking culture, both within and outside the language area. It is awarded every three years to an author whose body of work occupies an important place in Dutch literature.
The prize is awarded alternately by the Dutch and the Belgian king. In October, Belgian King Philippe will confer the Prize to Astrid H. Roemer in his palace in Brussels.
In 1956, the Flemish writer Herman Teirlinck received the first Dutch Literature Prize. In 2018, the prize was awarded to Dutch poet and writer Judith Herzberg.
Source: Dutch Language Union