The jury describes the novels as the core of his large oeuvre, although they make up less than half of his work in terms of size. ‘Like no other, Grunberg sharpens the relationship between play and reality, between the veneer of civilization and barbarism, in his novels. Novel after novel, Grunberg stages situations for his characters, mostly men, in which they can no longer play the social role they had assumed’, the jury report read. The jury, consisting of Agnes Andeweg (chairman), Rashid Novaire, Esther Op de Beek, Coen Peppelenbos and Nina Polak, describes Grunberg as a writer who is unparalleled in ambition, productivity and intellectual strength. Relentlessly curious and socially involved.
In his acceptance speech, Grunberg described the novel as ‘the stage for desires and fears – the two are difficult to separate – as the staging of the transgression, as an illustration of the realization that life is a waste. To which it must be added that danger will always be sought, and wanting to make every danger disappear is but the subtle death drive. After all, where every danger has passed, death has entered.’
About the P.C. Hooft-Prize
The P.C. Hooft-Prize has existed since 1947, the year in which the three hundredth anniversary of the death of Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft was commemorated. The prestigious oeuvre prize is awarded annually to Dutch writers for a constantly changing genre: narrative prose, contemplative prose and poetry. Recent previous laureates in the narrative prose category are: Marga Minco (2019), Astrid Roemer (2016), A.F.Th. van der Heijden (2013) and Charlotte Mutsaers (2010). The prize comes with an amount of €60,000. The secretariat of the P.C. Hooft-Prize for Literature is administered by the Museum of Literature, which also organizes the award ceremony.