Jannah Loontjens (author, the Netherlands)

Jannah Loontjens is a writer of prose, poetry and essays. She has published four volumes of poetry, of which the latest is That’s You, Isn’t It (2013). Her novel Lots of Luck, about her childhood in Sweden, was publishedin 2007, followed by the novel What Time Actually (2011). In 2014 her novel Or Maybe Not appeared, a portrait of contemporary life in Amsterdam. For the University of Amsterdam she wrote a dissertation on the representation of modernist literature in popular culture, resulting in a book of essays on writing and reading, titled My Life is Better than Literature (2013). She teaches philosophy and literature at ArtEZ. This year her newest non-fiction book will appear, in which she explores how her itinerary in philosophical thought was influenced by personal experiences.


Too good to be fiction

  • Each non-fiction genre (journalism, academic writing, historic or sociological reportage etc.) has its own conventions. The non-fiction genre that my writing would fit into, the personal essay, is a form of essay in which the writer also includes him or herself, as an actor in the described events or thoughts. Subjectivity and truth are not opposites. Oftenthe more personal I get, i.e. the more subjective, the more truthful it becomes.
  • In fiction everything that is described needs a reason that ties it together with the rest of the story. In non-fiction, I can describe it simply because it’s true. For fiction some things are not too good to be true, but too good to be fiction.
  • One of the reasons for writing prose is that I can be more honest, more rigorously truthful in fiction, especially concerning people’s behaviour and psychological twists. One of the reasons for writing non-fiction is that I can be more direct and more truthful in the description of observations or moments that actually ‘happened’.