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Jan van Aken

Jan van Aken - foto Koos Breukel
Jan van Aken - foto Koos Breukel

(Herwen en Aerdt, NL, 1961) is a writer of historical novels. He debuted with Het oog van de Basilisk (The Eye of the Basilisk, 2000), followed by De valse dageraad (The False Dawn, 2001), De dwaas van Palmyra (The Fool of Palmyra, 2003), Het fluwelen labyrint (The Velvet Labyrinth, 2005) and Koning voor een dag (King for a Day, 2008). His 2013 novel De afvallige (The Apostate) wom the Gouden Vullings. Van Aken is often called the Umberto Eco of the Low Countries. In his novel De ommegang (The Procession), which won the 2018 F. Bordewijk Prize, the memory artist, healer and architect Isidorus van Rillington has a encounter in 1450 that completely changes his life. Tzum wrote the following about it: "What literature can do: shape a past reality in such a way that it comes alive for those who have the ability to believe in it." The author also writes for Optima and Nieuw Wereldtijdschrift and teaches at the Schrijversvakschool (Writers' School).

(WN 2019)

Archive available for: Jan van Aken

  • Winternachten 2019

    Feast of Writers

    With: Aad Meinderts, Annemarie Estor, Douwe Draaisma, Hans Aarsman, Hassnae Bouazza, Jan van Aken, Jenny Arean, Maartje Meijer, Marja Pruis, Mathilde Santing, Maxime Garcia Diaz, Nelleke Noordervliet, Pauline Krikke, Robert van Asten, Sumai Yahya

    Appearances by singer, cabaret artist and actress Jenny Arean (accompanied on piano by Peter van der Zwaag), singer Mathilde Santing (accompanied by musicians Bastiaan Mulder and Guus Bakker), memory psychologist and author Douwe Draaisma, jazz pianist and composer Maartje Meijer and photographer and writer Hans Aarsman made this a fantastic Schrijversfeest edition.

    They performed to honour the winners of the literary prizes that the Jan Campert Foundation awarded on behalf of the City of The Hague. These were handed out during this Winternachten festival afternoon by the Mayor of The Hague, Pauline Krikke, and Robert van Asten, alderman for mobility, culture and strategy.

    The Schrijversfeest was opened by young poet Maxime Garcia Diaz who reads from her own work. Then high-school students recited their poetry written during workshops at school. Among them Sumai Yahya, who won the Young Campert Prize last year. The audience decided which of three student nominees won this award for a young Hague poet this time.

    Nelleke Noordervliet received the Constantijn Huygens Prize for her complete oeuvre. Since 1987 she has published a large number of novels, novellas, stories, essays and radio commentaries. Themes of historic ties, freedom, the collective and responsibility characterize her work. Her latest novel is Aan het eind van de dag (At the End of the Day, 2016)

    Jan van Aken received the F. Bordewijk Prize for his novel De ommegang (The Procession). It takes place in Europe during the year 1400, "a time when fierceness prevails, death is always lurking, and the equally brilliant and opportunistic protagonist attempts to defend his position so that he can build a cathedral", according to the jury.

    Annemarie Estor received the Jan Campert Prize for Niemandslandnacht (No-Man's-Land Night). This swirling prose poem, which reveals itself further at every reading, evokes a world that is both surreal and contemporary.

    The biannual J. Greshoff Prize went to Marja Pruis for her essay collection Genoeg nu over mij (Enough Now about Me). "I" must deserve you, writes the journalist, critic and writer. She certainly deserves this prize for her full-out and unabashed thinking and writing.

    This programme is a collaboration with the Jan Campert Foundation / Literature Museum.