Ian Buruma (1951), contributor to and member of the Advisory Committee of the yearbook The Low Countries, has been appointed editor of The New York Review of Books, succeeding Robert B. Silvers.
Buruma was born in The Hague to a British mother and Dutch father. He studied Chinese at Leiden University and Japanese cinema in Tokyo. In the 1970s he worked in Tokyo as an actor and dancer, then as a documentary film maker and photographer.
His writing career started with an issue on Japan for the Observer Sunday Magazine in London, which subsequently led to a book contract. In the 1980s he worked as a journalist and spent time travelling and reporting from all over Asia. He has written books in both English and Dutch on a wide range of current affairs themes, from Asia to World War II to hostile views of the West.
In 2006, his book Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for the Best Current Interest Book and in 2008 he received the Erasmus Prize, awarded to those who have “made an exceptional contribution to the humanities or the arts, in Europe and beyond”. He was voted one of the Top 100 Public Intellectuals by the Foreign Policy/Prospect magazines in 2008, and in 2010.
Buruma is currently the Paul W. Williams Professor of Democracy, Human Rights, and Journalism at Bard College. He has been a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books since 1985 and now also writes about a broad range of political and cultural subjects for major publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Guardian, La Repubblica and NRC Handelsblad.
In 2004, Buruma wrote an essay for The Low Countries, entitled ‘I didn't know about the holocaust then. Growing up in Holland’. Read it here.
Photo by Merlijn Doomernik (via ianburuma.com)