Stefan Hertmans wins Constantijn Huygens Award
The prestigious Constantijn Huygens Award goes to the Flemish writer, poet and essayist Stefan Hertmans. The award will be handed over to him during the Schrijversfeest, part of the 25th Winternachten festival.
Hertmans (Belgium, 1951) is a writer of poetry, novels, essays, plays, and short stories. He debuted in 1981 and has more than thirty books to his name. His international breakthrough came with Oorlog en terpentijn (War and Turpentine); this family chronicle now appears in twenty-four languages.
War and Turpentine is based on a few writings that Hertmans received in the 1980s from his grandfather, Urbain Martien, about his life before and during World War I. The reconstruction of Martien's story begins in about 1900 in a tight working-class Ghent neighbourhood and gets an unexpected twist during the Great War, when all established virtues were shot to pieces. The man who had wanted to be a painter was a decorated war hero whose life would never be the same.
His latest novel, De bekeerlinge (2016) was published in English as The Convert. Here too, Hertmans departs from history for a search into the life of a woman from the higher circles of Rouen who falls in love with David, son of the Chief Rabbi of Narbonne, in the eleventh century.
Hertmans taught at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and has delivered lectures at universities around the world. His literary work and reviews have appeared in American, Flemish, and Dutch newspapers and magazines. Anthologies of his poems have been published in English, German, and Spanish.