On Wednesday evening, I travelled to Gent for the announcement of the shortlist for the Fintro Literatuurprijs (read my previous post to find out more about this literary prize). I went to the beautiful NT Gent theatre and waited together with the other 99 members of the Readers Jury and their guests for the night to kick off.
Kathleen Cools came out first to talk about the prize and interview André Vandorpe, director of boek.be who hosted the evening. Then she started talking about the books. She expressed the difficulties the Expert Jury had in choosing the 20 books for the longlist, because so many good Dutch books were published in 2015. According to Kathleen, all the books on the longlist talk about love in one way or the other. The shortlist was chosen very carefully, after a long process of deliberation. These are the 5 book son the Fintro Literatuurprijs shortlist:
- Compassie – Stephan Enter
- De onderwaterzwemmer – P.F. Thomése
- Muidhond – Inge Schilperoord
- Jij zegt het – Connie Palmen
- Malva – Hagar Peeters
I usually don’t read a lot of new Dutch releases. I like to wait for them to get a little momentum before I decide if I want to read them or not. So that means that I haven’t read any of the books on this list. And I’m happy about that, it gives me the opportunity to look at these 5 books with fresh eyes and not be influenced by my previous experiences with the books. I’m looking forward to start reading them!
Next on the stage was Adil El Arbi, chair of the Readers Jury. He admitted he isn’t a big reader, but vowed to read all 5 books in the coming 7 weeks, just as we (the Readers Jury) are going to do. He said it should be possible since none of the books are very big, which was confirmed by Kathleen Cools as well. And it’s true. When I went on stage with the other 99 members to get our books, the box the handed us wasn’t very big, nor very heavy. I unpacked my box as soon as I came home, and unwrapped these lovely little books.
I am still hesitant which book I will read first. I’m most intrigued by Connie Palmen and Hagar Peeters’ books. I think I’ll start with Malva, by Hagar Peeters. I am definitely up for the challenge; reading 5 books in 7 weeks should prove easy since I currently read more than that. It has, however, been a while since I’ve read in Dutch. Not because I don’t like reading in Dutch, but because I prefer to read books in their original language and have been reading a lot of English because of that. I think reading in Dutch should probably go even faster since it is my mother tongue. In any case, my goal is to finish one book a week, and go online every day to see what people are talking about and to discuss along with the other 99 readers. That should leave me 2 weeks at the end to decide which book I’m going to vote for.
Exciting! You can follow my progress right here on this blog. And you can also keep up with me on my Facebook-page. If you feel like talking part in the discussion as well, feel free! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the books in the comments right here. If you want to discuss along with the rest of the Readers Jury and others, you can do so here: www.fintroliteratuurprijs.be.