Renate Dorrestein was born in Amsterdam on January 25, 1954, and raised in a Roman Catholic family. Her father was a lawyer, her mother a teacher and housewife. Renate began to write when she was in elementary school. Upon graduating in 1972 she opted not to go to college, going to work instead as a reporter for the Dutch news magazine Panorama, and worked for a number of other national publications.
Dorrestein had always wanted to write fiction. After years of trying, Outsiders was published in 1983. The book became a bestseller and established Dorrestein as a writer to watch in The Netherlands.
The novel A Heart of Stone attracted great interest internationally; the books translation rights were sold in a dozen countries. Her other books continue to be sold abroad in great numbers as well.
Dorestein spent the year 1986-1987 as Writer in Residence at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (USA) and has since been giving master classes at European and American universities. In 2000, she wrote the non-fiction book The Secret of the Writer based on this experience.
Dorresteins work has been lauded at home and abroad. Unnatural Mothers and A Heart of Stone were both nominated for The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and A Heart of Stone won the Vondel Prize for Translation. Her entire oeuvre was awarded the Annie Romein Prize in 1993 for its irresistible idiosyncracy.
About This Biography
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An Interview with Renate Dorrenstein
This is your first novel to be published by a mainstream American press.
Why do you think it is A Heart of Stone that has launched your debut in this
country? Is it representative of your work? Are there plans to translate your
earlier books into English?
Maybe the appeal of A Heart of Stone is the fact that it deals with a very ancient and profound fear that we all subconsciously know of: the fear of being annihilated by our own mother. Most of my work somehow touches on "collective fears," so in that respect this book is indeed representative of my writing. It is also representative in that part of the narration is told by a young girl. I love children's voices in literature and their views on the world as well. There are children in most of my novels. They were there in the earlier books and undoubtedly they'll be there in work yet to come. So there is no burning necessity to translate earlier work, though my most recent novel, Without Mercy, is being translated now and I'm very excited that it will be published in the United States.
Could you discuss the germination of A Heart of Stone? How did you conceive of the story? What compelled you to write it?
In 1997 ...
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