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Erwin Mortier

Erwin Mortier was born in Nevele in 1965 and studied art history in Ghent. His first novel ‘Marcel’ was published in 1999 and won numerous awards including the Flemish Debut Prize. Like much of his early work, the story centres around a child who develops under the emotional fall out of the complex lives of adults who are carrying a burden from the past – in this case a grandmother who keeps fierce watch over the family dead. The book has been translated into several languages. An English edition translated by Ina Rilke is published by Vintage.

Proust and Reve
Mortier’s second novel ‘Mijn tweede huid’ (My Second Skin) has also been published in English and once again the story is told through the eyes of a child. A reviewer in the British newspaper The Guardian wrote: “There is a sense in which he resembles Proust in his resurrection of lost significant moments. But Proust's world is wound round in webs of reflection and explanation. Mortier strings those obstinately persisting moments of fear, incomprehension, relief like discrete beads on a string.”

In 2001 Mortier published his first collection of poetry ‘Vergeten licht’ (Forgotten Light) which was awarded the C. Buddingh’ Poetry Prize.He has since brought out two more poetry collections and from 2005-2007 served as the City Poet of Ghent. In 2007 Mortier published ‘Avonden op het landgoed. Op reis met Gerard Reve’ (Evenings on the Estate. Travelling with Gerard Reve) – part travelogue and part portrait of one of the most important figures in Dutch literature.

In November 2009 Mortier’s latest novel ‘Godenslaap’ (Divine Sleep) received the AKO Literature Prize, one of the most prestigious Dutch literary awards.




Vlaams Nederlands Huis de Buren Radio Netherlands The Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature

This author's Radio Book:

Erwin Mortier
What Is Past Is Just Beginning

Mortier presented his contribution for Radiobooks in Antwerp on World Book Day in April 2009. It’s a contemplative and very personal ode to books and those who read them.

and in the delight of the reader the book flaps its wings with pleasure, as when you see someone again unexpectedly. The heart leaps up, the throat becomes dry, the roots of the hair send tremors over the skin… Books do not change the world, the world changes our books, turns us into different writers and readers.”

What Is Past Is Just Beginning by Erwin Mortier was translated by Michael O’Loughlin. The story was read by David Swatling.

Produced by Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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