The Fintro Literary Award is one of the most prestigious literary awards for books written in Dutch. It has been around since 1995, and was known as the Gouden Boekenuil (Golden Book Owl) until last year. This award was born out of the cooperation between Belgian bank Fintro and Boek.be. Boek.be is a website for book lovers, but it is also the umbrella organisation of the Flemish book industry. Its members consist of publishers and booksellers and together they do everything they can to promote books as far and wide as possible.
The Fintro Literary Award consists of two awards: the prize of the Expert Jury and the prize awarded by Jury made up of Readers. The Expert Jury is presided by Kathleen Cools, a Flemish journalist. She studied philosophy and started her media career at a radio channel for youngsters. Later she moved to the radio news department of the Belgian public broadcasting company VRT, where she specialized in European and political news. She later switched to television news where she hosted political and talk shows. In 2013, she won a Flemish Television Star in the category of the Best Presenter and she is known for being an experienced and talented interviewer and moderator, fluent in Dutch, French and English. Besides Kathleen Cools, the Expert Jury is made up of five literary reviewers from Flanders (the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium) and the Netherlands. They will award the first prize of 25.000 euros.
The Readers Jury is headed by Adil El Arbi, a Belgian movie director. Together with 100 Belgian and Dutch readers, they will award the audience award for the best Dutch book of 2015 to the value of 2.500 euros. These 100 readers will read the 5 books on the shortlist, discuss the books at length, and decide which is their favourite. And this year, I am a part of the Readers Jury! Out of 2150 people, I was chosen to be one of the 100 readers in the Readers Jury. While Boek.be was choosing the 100 readers for the Readers Jury, the Expert Jury was busy whittling the over 400 submitted books down to a longlist of 20 books, 14 novels and 6 literary non-fiction works:
- Jan Brokken – De Kozakkentuin (Atlas Contact)
- Saskia De Coster – Wat alleen wij horen (Prometheus)
- Chris De Stoop – Dit is mijn Hof (Bezige Bij)
- Stephan Enter – Compassie (Van Oorschot)
- Arjen Fortuin – Geert van Oorschot, uitgever (Van Oorschot)
- Philip Huff – Het verdriet van anderen (Bezige Bij)
- Willem Otterspeer – De zanger van de wrok (Bezige Bij)
- Jamal Ouariachi – Een honger (Querido)
- Connie Palmen – Jij zegt het (Prometheus)
- Hagar Peeters – Malva (Bezige Bij)
- Yves Petry – Liefde bij wijze van spreken (Bezige Bij)
- Inge Schilperoord – Muidhond (Podium)
- K. Schippers – Niet verder vertellen (Querido)
- Pieter Steinz – Lezen met ALS (Nieuw Amsterdam)
- P.F. Thomése – De onderwaterzwemmer (Atlas Contact)
- Joke Van Leeuwen – De onervarenen (Querido)
- Annelies Verbeke – Dertig dagen (De Geus)
- Peter Verhelst – De kunst van het crashen (Prometheus)
- L.H. Wiener – In zee gaat niets verloren (Atlas Contact)
- Maartje Wortel – Er moet iets gebeuren (Das Mag)
In 2 days, on April 6th, the Expert Jury will announce the 5 books on the shortlist. Every member of the Readers Jury will receive a copy of these 5 books (yay, free books!) and will then start discussing to decide which book will win their Audience Award. On June 5th, the winners of the Readers Jury and Expert Jury awards will be announced at the Fintro Literary Award gala, in the presence of the Readers, the Experts, a number of invited guests and the media of course (the event will be broadcasted live on Flemish public television). And I will be a part of all this! I’m very excited!
Who will win? Which book will succeed Orgelman by Mark Schaevers as the Expert Jury’s choice? Who will replace Niña Weijers’ De consequenties as the Readers Jury’s favourite? If you want to follow along, check out the Fintro Literary Award on Twitter or Facebook (if you speak Dutch that is). And of course, you can stay up-to-date with my adventures in the Readers Jury right here on my blog.
Something you want to share, ask, say, … about this? Don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments!
Happy reading, as always,