Mariken Heitman will receive the Libris Literature Prize 2022 for her book Wormmaan, the award of 50,000 euros for the author of the best original Dutch novel of the past year. According to the jury, it is a book that “is unparalleled in form, content and brainpower”. According to the company, the book about seed breeder Elke tells “a story that is simultaneously contemporary and spans the history of mankind.”
“From the perspective of our ancestors, an almost mythical creation story unfolds,” the jury report reads. “On the other hand, the novel is grounded in our present time. Heitman examines what is undeniably one of the great themes of today: self-identity in general and gender identity in particular.” It is “extremely topical and at the same time timeless” and “philosophical without being unnecessarily weighty”.
Wormmaan is also “an astonishingly rich novel of ideas that seems to revolve around the idea that humanity is blind to its own shaping power. We believe that there is a natural order and let it guide us, but we forget that we created that order ourselves.” And of the concise agricultural history that she has incorporated in her book, “as a reader you actually start to look at the world with different eyes – mindlessly throwing a bell pepper in your shopping basket is no longer an option after reading Wormmaan.”
The structure and theme also show “a great intellect, psychological insight and literary mastery”, is the verdict. The author uses the language with “flexibility”.
The other candidates on the shortlist were Nico Dros with Willem who made Madoc, Auke Hulst with De Mitsukoshi Troostbaby Company, Deniz Kuypers with The atlas of everywhere, Renée van Marissing with Our children and Lisa Weeda with Aleksandra.