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Arthur Japin

Dutch writer Arthur Japin was born in Haarlem in 1956. He studied Dutch Language and Literature at the University of Amsterdam and drama at The Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts in London and the Amsterdam Theatre School. He acted on stage, screen and television for many years.

The publication of his debut novel ‘De zwarte met het witte hart’ (The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi) in 1997 established Arthur Japin’s name as a writer. It is the tragic story of two Ashanti princes Kwasi and Kwame, who were offered as a gift to King William I in 1837. In a beautiful, polished style Japin blended fiction and historic fact into a striking whole. The book sold over 150,000 copies and was awarded the Van der Hoogt Prize (1998) and the ECI Prize (1999). It’s been translated into numerous languages, including English, and adapted for stage, screen and opera.

International locales
In 2003 he published another historical novel ‘Een schitterend gebrek’ (In Lucia’s Eyes), which won him the Libris Literature Prize. Inspired by an episode related in the memoirs of Casanova, the story is set in Amsterdam in 1758. An English translation by David Colmer received critical acclaim in the United States.

His latest historical novel ‘De overgave’ (Surrender) relates the struggle between the pioneers and the Comanche Indians in early 19th century Texas. It won the 2008 NS Public’s Prize. The same year saw publication of the British edition of his 2002 novel ‘De droom van de leeuw’ (The Lion Dreaming). The story is set in Rome and features Italian film director Federico Fellini, with whom Japin found himself caught up in an unlikely love triangle. In 2010 this book will be published in the United States as well.




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

This author's Radio Book:

Arthur Japin
What Kwaku Knows

Japin’s contribution for Radiobooks is set in contemporary Ghana. It is 13 year old Kwaku’s birthday and he has high hopes for a special day. 

“All the boys in Kwaku’s class want to be footballers. So does he. Even more so now. Three months ago, an uburuni was standing at the field behind the school, watching them play. They had done their best. After the game, the man had beckoned to Michael, Kwaku’s best friend. He had visited his parents that evening. He gave them fifty dollars and some pocket money for Michael. He guaranteed that he would turn the boy into a professional footballer…”

What Kwaku Knows by Arthur Japin was translated by Michael O’Loughlin. The story is read by David Swatling.

Produced by Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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