European Literature Prize goes to Alsof het voorbij is (Sense of an Ending)

20 June 2012

The novel Alsof het voorbij is (published by Atlas Contact) by Julian Barnes, translated from English by Ronald Vlek, has been selected as the winner of the European Literature Prize. The prize goes to both the author and the translator of the best European novel to appear in Dutch translation in 2011. The author will receive the sum of € 10,000, the translator € 2,500. The prize will be presented on Saturday 1 September during Manuscripta in Amsterdam.

The European Literature Prize will be presented in 2012 for the second time. Last year’s winner was Drie sterke vrouwen by Marie NDiaye, translated from French by Jeanne Holierhoek.

The jury on The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes and its Dutch translation by Ronald Vlek:

‘A novel that is as calm as it is disturbing, as melancholy as it is comical, a novel that can be read on several levels: as a personal outpouring, an account by a man wishing to clear his name, or an assault on the power of memories. A novel that makes the reader doubt everything he thinks he knows about himself. Translator Ronald Vlek not only manages to transform the narrator’s language into perfect, measured Dutch, he is remarkably successful in capturing Barnes’ undertone. He meticulously transforms the restrained, sometimes evasive sentences, the lucid images and carefully chosen words into Dutch without ever allowing them to lose any of their connotations.’

The other four shortlisted titles were:

  • Geluk als het geluk ver te zoeken is by Wilhelm Genazino, translated from German by Gerrit Bussink (Atlas Contact)
  • De kaart en het gebied by Michel Houellebecq, translated from French by Martin de Haan (De Arbeiderspers)
  • C by Tom McCarthy, translated from English by Auke Leistra (De Bezige Bij)
  • De waarheid omtrent Marie by Jean-Philippe Toussaint, translated from French by Marianne Kaas (Prometheus)

The jury was composed of:

  • Frans Timmermans, chairman; member of the Lower House, former Secretary of State for European Affairs
  • Joost de Vries; writer and literary critic for De Groene Amsterdammer
  • Ton Naaijkens; professor of translation studies, Utrecht University
  • Herm Pol; Athenaeum Booksellers, Amsterdam
  • Monique van Oosterhout; Van Gennep Booksellers, Rotterdam

The longlist was chosen by eleven independent bookshops. The professional jury then selected the shortlist and the winner.

The European Literature Prize is an initiative of the Academic-Cultural Centre SPUI25, the Dutch Foundation for Literature, the weekly magazine De Groene Amsterdammer and Athenaeum Booksellers. The following independent bookshops participated in the selection process:

Meer informatie

For more information or to request the logo please contact the Promotion and Information Department of the Dutch Foundation for Literature: Maaike Pereboom, tel. +31-20-5207300,, or Hanneke Marttin, tel. +31-20-5207300,

The logo for the European Literature Prize was designed by Christine Rothuizen and created by Milo.

A novel that makes the reader doubt everything he thinks he knows about himself.

Maaike Pereboom


Maaike Pereboom

[email protected]