Tijs Goldschmidt (1953) is pleasantly surprised by this news. ‘It is, quite apart from myself, a great recognition if you receive this lifetime achievement award. The P.C. Hooft-Prize is highly regarded by me. Countless writers that I really like got it. I actually still can't believe that this honor is now also awarded to me.’
The Museum of Literature organizes the ceremony of the most important Dutch literature prize on 25 May 2023. The publication In gekroonde stoeten (In crowned processions), published on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the prize, looks back at the history of the prize and also tells the story of the Theo Thijssen-Prize (oeuvre award for children's and youth literature) and the Max Velthuijs-Prize (oeuvre award for illustrators).
The PC Hooft-Prize 2023 for the oeuvre of Tijs Goldschmidt has been awarded on the recommendation of a jury consisting of Sinan Çankaya, Maxim Februari, Mirjam van Hengel (chairman), Daniël Rovers and Sana Valiulina. In the jury report they describe Goldschmidt as an essayist pur sang. He never just writes a popular science treatise, he makes literature. He formulates elegantly and thoughtfully, is a master of light irony and his formulations are clear-lined, visibly carefully composed and of a supple linguistic musicality. As an essayist, he is a storyteller who knows that content and form go hand in hand and he is a master at shifting emphasis, establishing unexpected relationships and whipping up worn connections.
‘He never just writes a popular science treatise, he makes literature’
Goldschmidt obtained his PhD on cichlid research in Lake Victoria, but decided to focus entirely on writing from 1993 onwards. His book Darwins hofvijver (Darwin's Court Pond), in which he intertwines the personal and the scientific, has been published in various countries. He then published many essays, bundled in Oversprongen, Kloten van de engel, Vis in Bad (Fish in the bath) and Wolven op het ruiterpad (Wolves on the bridle path), among others. In this last book, according to the jury, the essayist connects the distribution of tulip varieties with that of migrants and refugees with astonishing ingenuity. Not only does he show how movement and change propel evolution, but also how both humans and other animals have to constantly fight for new places and how much inventiveness and loneliness is involved.
For Goldschmidt, writing is in fact pure necessity. ‘If no publisher were interested in publishing my work, I would pretty much do what I do now,’ he says. ‘It's a way for me to think about things and organize my thoughts. I do that when I talk to people, but I do better when I'm alone and writing. So I need it as an activity and I miss it very much if I don't do it.’ That one day this will give him the P.C. Hooft-prize, he had not dared to dream. ‘Once I heard some phrases from the jury report during a phone call, I started to believe it was true.’
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. A festive gathering was held today in the Literature Museum to celebrate the 75th anniversary of this prestigious oeuvre prize. The program included performances by five poets who won the P.C. Hooft Prize before, attention to the book In gekroonde stoeten (In crowned processions) that Aad Meinderts wrote about the prize and the announcement of the winner of 2023. Meinderts has been official secretary since 1987, with an interruption in the years 2002-2009.
The P. C. Hooft-Prize is awarded annually to Dutch writers for a constantly changing genre: narrative prose, contemplative prose and poetry. Previous laureates in the contemplative prose category include: Maxim Februari (2020), Bas Heijne (2017), Willem Jan Otten (2014), Gerrit Komrij (1993) and Hugo Brandt Corstius (1987).
The prize comes with an amount of €60,000. The secretariat of the P.C. Hooft-Prize is administered by the Museum of Literature, which also organizes the award ceremony.
Credits photo: Hans Aarsman