Stefan Hertmans wins the prestigious 2014 AKO Prize for Literature


With his book ‘Oorlog en terpentijn’ (War and turpentine) the Belgian author Stefan Hertmans won the prestigious AKO Prize for Literature 2014. Ever since 1987, the AKO Prize for Literature has been awarded to the best Dutch literary book. It is only the fifth time that the prize has been awarded to a Belgian. Hertmans received both a sculpture by Eugène Peters and 50,000 euros. 125,000 copies of the book have already been sold in the Netherlands and Flanders (the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium).

The jury considered Hertman's ‘Oorlog en terpentijn’ a masterpiece, and it is already regarded as a classic. One hundred years after the beginning of the First World War, Hertmans incorporates the memories of his grandfather, who fought at the Yser front, in a novel which pendulates between fiction and non-fiction. Fact and fiction, realism and surrealism, images and imagination are all combined in an impressive tale. ‘Oorlog en terpentijn’ is not only a war novel, but also the chronical of a family and a heart wrenching love story.

Stefan Hertmans (born in Ghent, 31.03.1951) is the Belgian Dutch-speaking author of a range of literary works and essays which are well known both at home and abroad. He publishes poetry, novels, essays, theatre pieces, short stories and a handbook about 'art-ology'. His poems and stories appear in French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Croatian, German and Bulgarian. He lectured master students at the Royal Academy for Fine Arts (KASK, Hogeschool Gent) and headed up the 'Studium Generale' until October 2010. He taught or gave lectures at the Sorbonne, the universities of Vienna, Berlin, Ghent and Mexico City, Library of Congress (Washington) and University College London.