Margriet talked to Annejet and asked her five questions about the book and the campaign.
The whole of the Netherlands is now reading your book. What makes reading so important?
“I think telling and sharing stories is very important for people. For example, developing empathy, realizing that you are not alone and that different views are possible. You develop all that by reading. And I also think that it is certainly very important for children and young people if they can express themselves correctly. That, for example, if they write an application letter or want to make a proposal, they have language skills. Reading contributes to this.”
The book Sonny Boy was published in 2004 and is still widely read in 2023. The book is even central to the Heel Nederland Leest campaign. What makes the theme still relevant?
“The book is about ordinary people in times of war and racism. You only have to look at the news to see that these are still very current themes. Unfortunately also in 2023.”
You will visit many libraries this month. What do you remember about contact with readers?
“You meet many different types of readers. I was recently at the Amsterdam Public Library (OBA), where a whole group of people were learning Dutch. That was very nice, because normally you don’t see them at lectures and now you do. You experience a lot during the tour, but what I also find very nice is that relatives of the people I have described still come to lectures. They then tell what it has meant to their family. I always like it when there are Surinamese people, because the book of course also tells their story.”
Your books contain many history elements. Where does that preference come from?
“I saw from a fairly young age that as a person you often think that you make the decisions about your own life, while all kinds of major events often influence this. For example, think about politics when you were young or the economic situation. This all influences the choices you make. I find it fascinating to place people against the background of great history. And I am also very interested in what people do with the cards they receive during their lives.”
What message would you like to convey to the Netherlands as a reader?
“The most important thing is to just keep reading a lot and absorbing stories: from books such as The Seven Sisters to watching a Netflix series. Other people’s stories are always worthwhile, in whatever form.”
The Winter Fair will take place again from 24 to 30 November in the Brabanthallen in Den Bosch. During the nicest winter festival in the Netherlands you will meet various authors and Annejet van der Zijl will also be there on Tuesday, November 28. She answers questions about her books in the Margriet House and in the Libelle House. Would you like to score a book and autograph? Which can! After the interview, Annejet takes the time to sign all her books.
Come to the Winter Fair too! Enjoy performances, workshops, winter treats and lots of shopping. For tickets, information and the program, go to dewinterfair.nl.