22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Sjoerd Kuyper

Sjoerd Kuyper was born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 1952. In 1974, he broke off his study of Philosophy to work as a writer. He has written more than fifty books, primarily for young readers. His books have been translated into more than ten languages and adapted for television and cinema. Kuyper himself also writes scripts for movies, theater, and musicals. The film version of his book »Het Zakmes« (1981; tr. The penknife) won an Emmy in 1993. In 1999, his »De rode zwaan« (1996; tr. The red swan) also came to the movie houses. In it, a boy named Jakob, in search of his grandfather’s favorite toy, a red wooden swan, finds himself in a world where the stories of his ill grandfather are reality. In the guise of a fairytale, it deals, sometimes sadly, but never sentimentally, with themes like parting, death, friendship, and growing up. In »Robins zomer« (1990; Robin’s summer), Kuyper describes for the first time the experiences of three-year-old Robin, who has since then been the protagonist of several of Kuyper’s children’s books. For example, »Robin en Suze« (1993; tr. Robin and Susie) addresses the excitement before the birth of a new family member, which Robin shares not only with his parents, but also with the knights Validon und Bommerkraut. In »Robin en God« (1996; tr. Robin and God), Robin finds answers to his questions about God’s existence and appearance in conversations with his grandfather, but also in his joy over the snow before Christmas and as the director of a spontaneous family nativity play. A review in the »Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung« emphasized that, in this gentle but stimulating winter story, Kuyper successfully evokes the language of a small child while »thereby being especially poetic«. In 2015, »Robin und Schnuff« was published in Germany, a newly illustrated reprint of the three slate pencil winning Robinbooks: »Robin en Suze«, »Robin en God« and »Robin is verliefd«. The »NRC Handelsblad« newspaper judged Kuyper’s stories about Robin among the best ever written for children. The »Süddeutsche Zeitung« wrote that Kuyper’s »Hotel De Grote L« (2014) takes up almost all the current themes of young people’s literature and serves them as fast-paced tragicomedies, while approaching the difficulties of being a teenager – commonly treated with dead seriousness – with the necessary humor, as well.

Among the most important awards that Kuyper has received for his work are the Slate Pencil (2006) and the Theo Thijssen Prize (2012). He lives in Bergen, the Netherlands.