European Literature Prize goes to Drie sterke vrouwen (Trois femmes puissantes)

15 June 2011

The novel Drie sterke vrouwen by Marie NDiaye, translated from the French by Jeanne Holierhoek, 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 2010. The author will receive the sum of €10,000, the translator € 2,500. This a new prize, awarded this year for the first time.

The aim of the initiators of the award is to draw attention to the rich variety of literary translations of contemporary European novels. The prize will be presented on Saturday 3 September during Manuscripta in Amsterdam.

The jury on Drie sterke vrouwen by Marie NDiaye, and on Jeanne Holierhoek’s translation:

“In this penetrating triptych, set in both France and Senegal, NDiaye succeeds in blending stylistic complexity with succinctness and simplicity. She gives the ancient themes of repression and exploitation a human face, an intense profundity and a caustic beauty. In recreating her style, translator Jeanne Holierhoek displays great freedom, syntactical flexibility, a rich vocabulary and unobtrusive virtuosity. The result is a translation no less melodious than the original.”

The other four shortlisted titles were:

  • HHhH by Laurent Binet, translated from the French by Liesbeth van Nes (Meulenhoff)
  • Dat weet je niet (Det gør du ikke) by Jens Christian Grøndahl, translated from the German by Annelies van Hees (Meulenhoff)
  • De niet verhoorde gebeden van Jacob de Zoet (The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet) by David Mitchell, translated from the English by Harm Damsma and Niek Miedema (Ailantus)
  • De werkplaats van de duivel (Chladnou zemí) by Jáchym Topol, translated from the Czech by Edgar de Bruin (Ambo ǀ Anthos)

The jury was composed of:

  • Chairman Frans Timmermans, (member of the Lower House, former Secretary of State for European Affairs)
  • Marja Pruis, writer and literary critic for De Groene Amsterdammer
  • Guido Snel, lecturer in modern European literature at the University of Amsterdam, writer and literary translator
  • Herm Pol, Athenaeum Booksellers, Amsterdam
  • Edith Aerts, De Groene Waterman, Antwerp

The longlist was chosen by thirteen 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:

More information

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. +31-20-5207311,
The logo for the European Literature Prize was designed by Christine Rothuizen and created by Milo.

Maaike Pereboom


Maaike Pereboom

[email protected]