The award of the Dutch Literature Prize to writer Astrid Roemer is canceled. Roemer receives the literary prize, but the organization put an end to the ceremony led by the King of the Belgians Philippe. The reason for the cancellation of the awards ceremony are the writer’s statements about the former President of Suriname Desi Bouterse. The committee reported to news time.
At the end of July, Roemer wrote on his Facebook page that the Surinamese community “badly needed him to become more aware of himself”. On news time the writer said on Friday that “Bouterse should not receive a prison sentence after so many years, given his commitment to the decolonization of Suriname”.
Bouterse was sentenced by Suriname’s court martial for the December killings. In 1982, as head of the army, he summarily executed fifteen Surinamese.
Because of Roemer’s statements, she came under considerable fire within the Surinamese community. Shortly after the writer shared her take on Bouterse, the Suriname Victims Memorial Committee said she should not receive the award at all. According to the committee, she proclaimed “anti-democratic” and “anti-rule of law” positions, from which the Dutch Language Union should distance itself.
The Letteren Commission, which includes outgoing ministers Ingrid van Engelshoven (Education, Culture and Science, D66) and Arie Slob (Primary and Secondary Education and Media, ChristenUnie) on behalf of the Netherlands, judges the author’s statements “so inappropriate ”than“ It is not appropriate to allow a festive award ceremony to take place ”. Because an independent jury chose Roemer, she will receive the prize. According to the committee, the “personal views of the authors” play no role in “the appreciation of their work”.
First Surinamese winner
In March, it was announced that Roemer would become the first Surinamese winner of the Letterenprijs. As part of this award, she will receive 40,000 euros. The jury hailed his work as “unconventional, poetic and lived”. The author became most famous for his novels, such as About a woman’s madness. Roemer also wrote the books risky life, looks like love in Was signed, in which she incorporated the era under the Bouterse regime with dream images and character experiences.
According to the jury, experimenting with structures of history and forms of style was characteristic of his literary style. Roemer addressed social themes such as migration, racism and emancipation. She made her debut in 1970 with the collection of poetry Now. After that, she also published plays in addition to poetry and novels. His most recent work is the novel White. In 2016, she received the PC Hooft Prize for Lifetime Achievement.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of August 11, 2021
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