Jan de Leeuw

Jan de Leeuw was born in 1968 in Aalst, Belgium. He grew up in a house with no books, but was a regular visitor to his local library. He was strongly influenced by his first reading of J.R.R. Tolkien’s »Lord of the Rings«. He already knew as a child that he wanted to write, but, as an adult, he was unwilling to risk the financial uncertainty and pressure to succeed associated with a career as a writer and instead earned a living as a psychologist.

Jan de Leeuw’s themes are diverse and cannot be tied down to one genre. His début »Vederland« (2004, t: Featherland) is the story of the 13-year-old Arnoud, who discovers two old letters which force him to rethink the moral integrity of his grandfather, shot during the Second World War. The weekly paper »Die ZEIT« said it is »a great children’s book. Because we live in Germany, which so carefully separates literature for children and for adults, there is a risk that it might not be recognised for what it is: a great book.« The YA novel »Rode sneeuw« (2007, t: Red snow) is set among the Vikings and is the story of the red-headed Hallgerd. When she learns that she is to be married, she flees from Thorsteinhalla, which is soon invaded by Jarl Asmund. Hallgerd seeks revenge. Jan de Leeuw has succeeded in writing a thrilling Viking adventure with a complex female protagonist. Once again he hops genres for his next novel, »Bevroren Kamers« (2009, t: Frozen rooms), a macabre story about 15-year-old Jonas, who hides his dead mother in cold storage and is left to deal by himself with his mother’s responsibilities, including his father, who is undergoing psychiatric treatment, and his little sister Sarah. Jan de Leeuw’s book interweaves tragedy, comedy and slapstick in a bizarre panorama of characters and situations. The newspaper »Die Welt« wrote that the book »offers great dialogues, produces enchanting characters, takes the feelings of these characters seriously in their tragi-comic turmoil, and then, in passing, dares to discuss guilt, happiness and misfortune.«

Jan de Leeuw is considered as one of the most important contemporary voices in Belgian children’s literature, and has won several awards for his writing. In Germany he has been nominated, among others, for the German Youth Literature Award (2011). Of his six books, four have so far been published in German. Jan de Leeuw lives and works as a psychologist and freelance writer in Ghent.

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