A professional jury under the leadership of Margot Dijkgraaf has awarded the European Literature Prize 2016 to the Italian author Sandro Veronesi and his Dutch translator Rob Gerritsen for the novel Zeldzame aarden (‘Rare Earths’), Prometheus, 2015. The announcement was made on the radio programme Opium on NPO 4.
The jury praises the astonishingly witty way in which Veronesi, often in an interior monologue, tells the story of his central character Pietro Palladino. The ground falls away under Palladino’s feet when he discovers, within a period of twenty-four hours, that nothing in his life is what it seemed. Veronesi intersperses long winding sentences that reflect Palladini’s inner panic and abrupt dilemmas with sharp dialogues and passages in which the story gathers pace, and all this comes through in Rob Gerritsen’s translation.
Sandro Veronesi made his debut in 1988 and has since published sixteen novels and four non-fiction titles. He has won a variety of literary prizes, including the prestigious Italian Premio Strega and the French Prix Femina. Veronesi says that the central character in Zeldzame aarden is part of ‘the invisible Italy; the Italy of practices that cannot withstand scrutiny’.
Rob Gerritsen has been translating Italian literature since 2001, including a total of nine works by Veronesi, among them the bestseller Kalme chaos. He has also translated work by authors including Gianrico Carofiglio, Giovanni Chiara and Umberto Eco.