Arnon Grunberg

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Arnon Grunberg
Arnon Grunberg in 2016
Arnon Grunberg in 2016
BornArnon Yasha Yves Grünberg
(1971-02-22) 22 February 1971 (age 50)
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Pen nameMarek van der Jagt
GenreNovels, essays, columns
Notable awardsAKO Literature Prize
Libris Prize
Constantijn Huygens Prize

Arnon Yasha Yves Grunberg (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɑrnɔˈɲɑʃaː ˈiːf ˈxrʏmbɛr(ə)x]; born 22 February 1971) is a Dutch writer of novels, essays, and columns, as well as a journalist. He published some of his work under the heteronym Marek van der Jagt. He lives in New York.

Early life[edit]

Grunberg was born as Arnon Yasha Yves Grünberg on 22 February 1971 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He grew up in a family of Jewish immigrants, originally from Germany.[1][2] His mother was a survivor of concentration camp Auschwitz.[3][4] Grunberg attended the Vossius Gymnasium in Amsterdam, but he got expelled in 1988.[5] Before publishing his first novel, he held various odd jobs, and tried his hand at acting in a short film by Dutch avant-garde film maker Cyrus Frisch. From 1990 to 1993, Grunberg had his own publishing house Kasimir, which was financially unsuccessful.[6][7]


Grunberg made his literary debut in 1994 with the novel Blauwe maandagen (Blue Mondays), which won the Anton Wachter Prize for best debut novel.[8] Critics hailed it as a "grotesque comedy, a rarity in Dutch literature."[9] In 2000, he was the first to win to this debut prize again, but this time under his heteronym Marek van der Jagt, for the novel De geschiedenis van mijn kaalheid (The Story of My Baldness).[10]

Grunberg is a prolific and versatile writer. In addition to his many novels, he has written newspaper and magazine columns, essays, poetry, scenarios and plays. His work has been translated into 30 languages. His English publications include frequent blogposts for Words Without Borders and daily posts on his personal website.[11]

The much acclaimed novel Tirza, about a father's obsessive love for his graduating daughter, was Grunberg's first novel to be made into a movie, Tirza, in 2010,[12] after winning the Dutch Libris Prize and the Belgian Golden Owl in 2007.[13] A 2010 national poll of literary critics, academics and writers held by the magazine De Groene Amsterdammer elected Tirza as the "most important novel of the 21st century," over Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones and Ian McEwan's Saturday. In 2009, Grunberg won the Constantijn Huygens Prize for his entire oeuvre[14] and in 2011 the Frans Kellendonk-prijs.[15]

In September 2008, Grunberg published his seventh novel, Onze Oom (Our Uncle). The book presentation took place in Belgian Eupen, as an earlier incident at the ECI Literatuurprijs with A. F. Th. van der Heijden made the author decide to no longer appear in public in the Netherlands.[16] Later that year, Grunberg became guest writer and lecturer at the Leiden University and Wageningen University and Research Centre. In October 2014, he became an honorary fellow at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Amsterdam. His lectures revolve around issues of privacy and surveillance and together with the students he develops a video game.[17] The lecture series coincide with an exhibit on the author's life and work, the materials of which come from his own (literary) archive, which is "on lease" at the university library special collections department, making it into a unique living archive.[18]

Arnon Grunberg in 2015

In an attempt to understand the creative process, Grunberg wrote his latest novel Het Bestand (which can mean both computer file and truce) while scientists were measuring his brain activity, emotions, and subjective feelings. Using screen capture and physiological measurements such as EEG, GSR and ECG, and subjective questionnaires for the author, scientists correlated the writing of emotionally charged passages with physiological activity. The second phase of the experiment will take place in October and November 2015 in the GrunbergLab at the University of Amsterdam, where volunteers' brain activity will be measured while they are reading the novel under controlled circumstances.[19][20][21]

Grunberg is also known for his literary journalism and periods of complete immersion in diverse aspects of society. He has spent time with and written about masseurs at a Romanian resort, patients in a Belgian psychiatric ward, dining car waiters on a Swiss train, and an ordinary Dutch family on vacation.[citation needed] He has also been embedded with Dutch troops in Afghanistan and Iraq,[22] and visited Guantánamo Bay. In 2009 his reports were published in a book called Chambermaids and Soldiers.[23]


Selected bibliography[edit]

  • (1994) Blauwe maandagen; English translation: Blue Mondays (1997)
  • (1997) Figuranten; English translation: Silent Extras (2001)
  • (1998) De heilige Antonio (The Saint of the Impossible)
  • (2000) Fantoompijn; English translation: Phantom Pain (2004)
  • (2000) De geschiedenis van mijn kaalheid as Marek van der Jagt; English translation: The Story of My Baldness (2004)
  • (2001) De Mensheid zij geprezen, Lof der Zotheid 2001 (Praised be Mankind, Praise of Folly 2001)
  • (2002) Gstaad 95–98 as Marek van der Jagt
  • (2003) De asielzoeker (The Asylum Seeker)
  • (2004) De joodse messias; English translation: The Jewish Messiah (2008)
  • (2006) Tirza; English translation: Tirza (2013)
  • (2008) Onze oom (Our Uncle)
  • (2010) Huid en Haar (Tooth and Nail)
  • (2012) De man zonder ziekte (The Man Without Illness)
  • (2015) Het bestand (The Cache)
  • (2016) Moedervlekken (Birthmarks)
  • (2018) Goede Mannen
  • (2020) Bezette Gebieden
  • (2001) Amuse-Gueule; English translation: Amuse-Bouche (2008)
  • (2004) Grunberg rond de wereld (Grunberg Around the World)
  • (2009) Kamermeisjes & Soldaten: Arnon Grunberg onder de mensen (Chambermaids & Soldiers: Arnon Grunberg Among the People)
  • (2013) Apocalyps
  • (1998) Troost van de slapstick (The Comfort of Slapstick)
  • (2001) Monogaam (Monogamous), as Marek van der Jagt
  • (2001) Otto Weininger Of bestaat de jood? (Otto Weininger or Does the Jew Exist?), as Marek van der Jagt
  • (2013) Buster Keaton lacht nooit (Buster Keaton Never Laughs)
  • (2013) Why the Dutch Love Black Pete
  • (1998) Het 14e kippetje (The 14th Chicken)
  • (1998) You are also very attractive when you are dead
  • (2005) De Asielzoeker (The Asylum Seeker), adapted by Koen Tachelet
  • (2015) Hoppla, wir sterben, premiere 29. April 2015, Münchner Kammerspiele


  1. ^ G.J. van Bork, "Grunberg, Arnon" (in Dutch), Schrijvers en dichters. Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  2. ^ Arnon Grunberg, "Ditch the King. Hire an Actor.", The New York Times, 2013.
  3. ^ "Paul Rosenmöller en Arnon Grunberg Archived 10 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine" (in Dutch), IKON. Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  4. ^ Roderick Nieuwenhuis, "Moeder Arnon Grunberg overleden" (in Dutch), NRC Handelsblad, 2015.
  5. ^ "Biografie Archived 22 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine" (in Dutch), Archived 31 August 2018 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  6. ^ Marek Hłasko – Ik zal jullie over Esther vertellen (in Dutch), Website Arnon Grunberg. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Grunberg wil uitgeverij oprichten" (in Dutch), de Volkskrant, 2005. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  8. ^ a b Blauwe maandagen Archived 19 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine (in Dutch).
  9. ^ "Opium TV : Arnon Grunberg" (in Dutch), NRC Handelsblad, 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  10. ^ a b Karin de Mik, "'Van der Jagt is pseudoniem van Grunberg'" (in Dutch), NRC Handelsblad, 2000. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  11. ^ "Arnon Grunberg".
  12. ^ Hutchins, Scott (10 May 2013). "The Graduate". The New York Times.
  13. ^ a b c Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature
  14. ^ a b "Huygens-prijs 2009 voor Arnon Grunberg" (in Dutch), NRC Handelsblad, 2009. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  15. ^ Lezing & Prijs, Frans Kellendonk Fonds. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  16. ^ "Grunberg verdwijnt uit Nederlands literair leven" (in Dutch), Het Nieuwsblad, 2007.
  17. ^ Dirk Wolthekker, "Arnon Grunberg honorary fellow aan de UvA" (in Dutch), Folia, 2014.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 March 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ What is creativity?, Noldus.
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 March 2015. Retrieved 27 February 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ Jennifer Schuessler, "Wired: Putting a Writer and Readers to a Test", The New York Times, 2013.
  22. ^ "Grunberg 'embedded' naar Irak" (in Dutch), Trouw, 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  23. ^ "Kamermeisjes en soldaten – Arnon Grunberg" (in Dutch), Literair Nederland. Retrieved 15 Juni 2016.
  24. ^ a b c d (in Dutch) G.J. van Bork, "Grunberg, Arnon", Schrijvers en dichters, 2005. Retrieved 27 February 2015.

External links[edit]

Media related to Arnon Grunberg at Wikimedia Commons