22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Bregje Hofstede

Bregje Hofstede was born in 1988 in the Dutch city of Ede. She studied art history and romance studies in Utrecht, Paris and Berlin, receiving a master’s degree in 2012 in research, which prepares students in The Netherlands for a career as a research associate or serves as the final preliminary step towards a doctorate. Her thesis focused on the art of illustration in the work of Alexandre Alexeïeff, the Russian-French pioneer in the field of animated films.

Hofstede published short stories and essays in the Dutch literary journal »Hollands Maandblad«, which awarded her its annual scholarship for her work in 2012 and 2013. For the »Crossing Border« literature festival in Den Haag, Hofstede wrote a text (which was translated into English by Alice Paul) describing how one year earlier her diary had fallen into the water while she was writing beside a canal at the Venice Biennale. After rescuing it from the water, she spent hours retracing the washed-out ink and marks made by her fountain pen, in panicking that something important may have been lost. She ultimately gave up, but only after having typed 50,000 words in one night in an attempt to record her recollections of the preceding weeks. This ordeal revealed to her why she writes: to obtain a clear view of her experiences through temporal and spatial remove. In her debut novel »De hemel boven Parijs« (2014; tr: The sky over Paris), the seemingly orderly life of an art history professor goes off the rails when a young woman – a Dutch exchange student – arouses in him the memory of a great and long-forgotten love. United by their shared fear of failure, he seizes the opportunity to advise his student to do something he lacked the courage to do. In turn, he she encourages him to finally do something he has always secretly yearned to do. The author tells the story from both the perspective of the young woman and – just as convincingly – from the viewpoint of the old man. A critic at the »Münchner Merkur« praised Hofstede’s storytelling style for its details, its empathy and above all for its thoroughly surprising twists and turns, as the author relates what people can achieve in their lives and where they may be standing in their own way. A review in the »Aachener Nachrichten« concluded that »De hemel boven Parijs« was an »extraordinary novel in concise, spirited prose«.

The author’s first larger work – of which a film is also planned – was nominated in The Netherlands for both the Libris Literature Award and the Golden Book Owl Prize. Hofstede lives and works as a writer and art historian in Amsterdam.