Roline Redmond wins Brussels Prize for best journalistic book

The Brusse Prize for the best Dutch-language journalistic book was won this year by Roline Redmond, for her book The Doorsons: In Search of an African American Slave Family in the Caribbean. The jury announced this in the radio program NOS With a view to Tomorrow. The prize is accompanied by a cash prize of 10,000 euros.

“I hope that in thirty years’ time people will know something more about Surinamese history”, was her first reaction when she was announced as the winner.

In the book, Redmond describes the roots and history of her Surinamese family. She was on it for ten years. “I started it because my mother asked me to write down the history of the family just before she could no longer speak,” she said. NOS With a view to Tomorrow.

“That was not easy. My ancestors were slaves in Suriname. We do not have an archive of slaves. The slaves had no name. They were ‘goods’. And to find out where you came from for the parents was a very difficult process. .”

History captured

According to the jury of the journalistic book prize it is “handsome oral history-work and journalism in its purest form”. “In which the struggle in search of truth and new facts becomes tangible for the reader”, according to the jury report.

“Step by step, she toils along with the author, an author who eventually paints the history of her ancestors with a refreshing distance and in this way fulfills her mother’s assignment. The history of slavery is recorded, so that it becomes visible, but above all : is not forgotten.”

For her book, Redmond spoke with relatives, among others, and traveled to Suriname for this. “If I didn’t, they would just die,” she said previously. “Then there would be no one left to tell the story of our family.” There weren’t many stories anymore, because people didn’t look back. “The people who were left kept their mouths shut. They had to carry on. The pain was too great to tell the story about.”

‘High Quality’

The jury, led by investigative journalism coordinator Joost Oranje of NOS News and news hour, finds all five nominated books of high quality. But Redmond’s book “will still have meaning in ten years’ time,” according to the judges. “It offers insight and describes one of the most discussed themes of our time. (…) As a chronicler, the author fits in the tradition of the namesake of this prize. This book is not only about archives and the facts, but above all also , as Rie Brusse advocated: about people.”

The other nominees were Groningen gold van Wendelmoet Boersema about Groningen gas, the book The machine by Stijn Bronzwaer, Joris Kooiman and Merijn Rengers Lebowski about the Dutch travel site Booking.com, business prince by Michiel Couzy and Maarten van Dun about Prince Landlord Bernhard, and Sanda Dia by Pieter Huyberechts on the fatal hazing of the Senegalese-Belgian student Sanda Dia.

Last year, Thalia Verkade and Marco te Brömmelstroet won the Brusse Prize for their book about the increasingly dominant role of cars in public space in the Netherlands. This year the prize, which has been awarded since 2006, was awarded for the fifteenth time.

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