Mariken Heitman Wins Prestigious Libris Literature Prize
The Dutch writer and biologist Mariken Heitman is the winner of the Libris Literature Prize 2022 with her novel Wormmaan. The prize is the most influential annual award for a Dutch-language novel, modelled after the Man Booker Prize, and comes with a cash prize of €50,000.
Wormmaan is the second novel of 38-year-old Mariken Heitman and tells ‘a story that is simultaneously contemporary and spans the history of mankind’, according to the jury.
Mariken Heitman © Bart Grietens
This is done in two storylines: about the disillusioned seed breeder Elke, who is often mistaken for a man and does not fit into the female role pattern, and about Ra, an androgynous woman from nine thousand years ago, when humanity invented agriculture. Heitman connects these themes in a way that shows ‘great intellect, psychological insight and literary mastery’.
The jury awarded ‘a book that is unparalleled in form, content and brainpower’, according to Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, chairman of the jury, at the presentation ceremony.
The novel was described as philosophical, without being heavy-handed. Wormmaan ‘confronts us with the shortcomings and challenges in our own lives in this era of free time and luxury, with its robots and computers’.
Mariken Heitman is the fourth woman to win the Libris Literature Prize in 29 years. Last year the award went to the novel Cliënt E. Busken by Jeroen Brouwers.