Oscar van den Boogaard was born in Harderwijk, the Netherlands, in 1964. He grew up in the former Dutch colony of Surinam and in the Netherlands. After studying French and Law in Montpellier, Amsterdam, and Brussels, he embarked on a career as lawyer at an international law firm in Brussels. On his 25th birthday he suddenly gave up his secure life as a lawyer and became a writer. A telling decision for van den Boogaard, for whom the only thing that now mattered was “living life,” so that in the end “life’s bookkeeping: reality on the left, fantasy on the right” has been balanced. As founder of the Mot & van den Boogaard Gallery for Contemporary Art in Brussels, he came into contact with the international art world. On his left shoulder the artist Douglas Gordon put a tattoo for reflection. It is the word “Guilty” in mirror-writing. The photo of the writers back is part of the collection of the Guggenheim museum in New York.
Since the publication of his debut novel “Dentz” in 1990, Oscar van den Boogaard has been regarded as one of the most important young authors in the Netherlands. In a powerful yet sensitive way, van den Boogaard writes of how obscure compulsions cause people to deny their basic essence. The trials of everyday life, where there is no room to live out one’s feelings and desires, are of central importance to the main figure in his novel “De heerlijkheid van Julia,” which has won two renowned prizes, the Dutch Libris-Literatuurprijs and the Belgian De gouden Uil. His novel “Liefdesdood” (“Love’s Death,” 2001) is about complicated family situations, fantasies of escape, and alienation; the novel also received the De gouden Uil. A reduced, almost sober language characterizes “Liefdesdood,” which reads in a way that is both lyrical and full of feeling. The critic Hans Warren called it “a book which continuously assumes another color.” Recently Oscar van den Boogaard has been interested in the connection between relationships and identity, more precisely in the role that the other plays as a mirror. “We need someone to ourselves be someone. But how can I be, if the other does not have the ability, the experience, and the vocabulary to perceive me.” In a creative dialogue with the Tg Stan, Antwerp, the Ro-Theater Rotterdam, and the Toneelgroep Amsterdam, he has written five theater pieces, including “Lucia smelt,” which was performed in the German language for the first time by the State Theater Hanover.
Following stopovers in Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles, Vienna, and Paris, Oscar van den Boogard lived and worked in Berlin as a guest of the German Academic Exchange Service. He currently lives in Brussels.
© international literature festival berlin