A.F.Th. van der Heijden

A.F.Th. van der Heijden (b. 1951) studied psychology and philosophy in Nijmegen, but after moving to Amsterdam he turned to writing.

Photo: Sander Nieuwenhuijs

His first two books appeared under the pseudonym Patrizio Canaponi: the short-story collection Een gondel in de Herengracht (A Gondola in the Herengracht, 1978; Anton Wachter Prize 1979) and the novel De draaideur (The Revolving Door, 1979). Van der Heijden won national fame with De tandeloze tijd (The Toothless Time), a brilliant seven-volume saga about Amsterdam in the seventies and eighties, published between 1983 and 1996. In 2003 De Movo Tapes appeared, the first volume of a new cycle of novels, entitled Homo duplex, followed by Het schervengericht (Judgement by Shards, 2007).

The last few years have been turbulent and tragic for Van der Heijden. In 2011 his only child Tonio was killed in a road accident and precisely a year later he published an autobiographical novel, an impressive picture of his son that is imbued with his regret at never having been the father he wanted to be. Tonio was awarded the Libris Literature Prize and the Readers’ Prize, and this year the author received the ultimate Dutch literary honour, the P.C. Hooft Prize.

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