German literary prize for Cees Nooteboom


The much laurelled writer Cees Nooteboom will have to make a bit of space in his award cupboard. The German Konrad Adenauer Foundation has picked him for its literature prize 2010 because of his European political and cultural aura.

Nooteboom is the first West European to receive this prestigious prize. 

International class

At the award ceremony in Weimar last Sunday the President of the German Bundestag, Norbert Lammert, told those present: “Cees Nooteboom is a distinguished writer of international class, a passionate European and a humanist in the real sense of the word (...). Not only does the laureate have a large and enthusiastic crowd of readers behind him in Germany, more importantly he is a well-read contemporary and eye-witness of German history who, as a neighbour, followed the process of peaceful revolution particularly attentively.”

Keen observer

The Minister-President of Thuringia, Christine Lieberknecht, put it like this: “Nooteboom is a keen observer of the processes of individual and social change and a thoughtful researcher into causes and mechanisms in extreme circumstances.”

The president of the foundation awarding the prize, Hans-Gert Pöttering, a former President of the European Parliament, was full of praise for Nooteboom, too: “He had already defeated the Wall with his work, even while it was still standing.”

Sixty years of peace

In his acceptance speech Nooteboom himself referred to Konrad Adenauer who, as the first postwar Chancellor of West Germany in 1949, gave his name to both the foundation and the prize: “Something was created back then that gave us sixty years of peace, and the question is how we deal with it. (...) When one sees the present as history, one also sees the past as topical, in a strange reversal."

You can listen to Nooteboom’s acceptance speech and Norbert Lammert’s laudatory address on this link.

(Please not that all links included here post are in German for lack of English alternatives)

 Nooteboom in TLC

Here is a link to the articles on Nooteboom in The Low Countries Yearbook.

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