22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Karlijn Stoffels

Karlijn Stoffels, born in 1947 in Amsterdam. She pursued Romance Linguistics and Dutch Language and Literature at the University of Leiden, after which she began writing for children and adults (including works on Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre), as well as for radio and stage plays. She has also worked as a French teacher and a translator.

Her young adult fiction début, »Mosje en Reizele« (1996) combines the lives of two fictional characters in its narrative with historical facts about the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw around 1939 and Dr. Korczak’s orphanage. This first children’s book already reflected the central themes that have determined the author’s later work. She focuses on themes related to social isolation, for example of the experience of outsiders with persecution, abuse or ostracism, or the simple fact of being different according to society’s criteria. In her fiction for young adults, Karlijn Stoffels discusses these themes with a critical undertone, for example in the story »Marokko aan de plas« (2002, tr: Morocco by the Pool). The story is about the 12-year-old Issa who is growing up in Amsterdam—between languages and his own voicelessness, between cultures and differing values—and who experiences discrimination from both sides. In the story, she reveals an exceptionally analytic perspective on the possibilities and boundaries of the individual, political and social integration of immigrants. »Een-nul voor de autisten« (2003, tr: 1-0 for the Idiots) also explores a young person’s search for suitable means of expression and self-determined prospects for the future, in this case with a stopover at an institute for adolescent psychiatry. »I decided to tell the story with Lucy looking back and recollecting her thoughts and emotions after a period of years or months, recalling what was happening to her at the time, what her problems were and what was causing them«, explains the author on her homepage about how she selected the narrative perspective. Above and beyond the presentation of the individual fates of her characters, she succeeds in discussing basic questions and aspects of the social and emotional insecurities of adolescents during puberty.

Karlijn Stoffels’ books for young adults have won many national and international awards and honours, including a nomination for the German Prize for Youth Literature for »Mojse en Reizele« in 1999. She currently lives in Amsterdam.