Renate Dorrestein biography

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Renate Dorrestein

Renate Dorrestein

Renate Dorrestein Biography

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 book’s 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.

Dorrestein’s 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”.

Renate Dorrestein's website

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Interview

Renate Dorrestein discusses how she conceived the story of A Heart of Stone (her first book translated into English from the original Dutch), how she managed to balance allusions to 1960s American culture with references to classical Greek and Roman literature, and much else.

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 Holland was shocked by a wave of ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Renate Dorrestein at BookBrowse
A Heart of Stone jacket
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Read-Alikes

All the books below are recommended as read-alikes for Renate Dorrestein but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose read-alikes

  • Carol Goodman

    Carol Goodman

    I started writing at age nine, when my teacher introduced the topic 'Creative Writing' and I wrote a ninety-page, crayon-illustrated collection entitled The Adventures of the Magical Herd in which a girl named Carol lives ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    A Heart of Stone

    Try:
    The Lake of Dead Languages
    by Carol Goodman

  • Jill McGown

    Jill McGown

    A native of Argyll, Scotland, Jill McGown has lived in Corby, England, since she was ten. She wrote her first novel, A Perfect Match, in 1983. Among those that have followed are Gone to Her Death, Murder at the Old Vicarage... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    A Heart of Stone

    Try:
    Unlucky For Some
    by Jill McGown

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