Hanna Bervoets (1984, Amsterdam) is one of the most acclaimed Dutch authors of her generation. After earning her Bachelors degree in Cultural Studies and a Masters in Journalism & Research she published eight novels, several screenplays, plays and short stories. She also writes essays and reviews on media, popular culture and (queer) representation.
Bervoets received numerous nominations and awards for her work. In 2017, she was granted the prestigious Frans Kellendonk Prize for her entire body of works. Her novels are being translated in many languages and were adapted for film and television. Excerpts and short stories were published on international platforms such as Five Dials and The Guardian.
During the spring of 2018 Bervoets was a resident at Writers Omi at Ledig House, New York, where she worked on her novel Welcome to the Kingdom of the Sick: an adventure story on chronic illness. Welcome to the Kingdom of the Sick became an instant bestseller when it was published in 2019.
In 2021 her novella The Things we saw was published for Dutch Book Week in a first print run of 650,000 copies. Picador will publish it in May 2022 in the UK, HMH/ Mariner Books in the US as We had to remove this Post. Production company Quay Street Productions are planning to adapt The Things we saw for television.
Hanna Bervoets works and lives in Amsterdam, with her girlfriend and two guinea pigs.
Download full English press package (complete bibliography, honors and reviews).
After her award-winning debut Or How Why (2009) Bervoets wrote seven novels, that often combine literary narratives with science fiction themes and fantasy tropes, always with strong queer overtones. Dutch critics have referred to Bervoets’ earlier work as ‘lab literature’, because her stories often have an academic setting, but also because they explore human behavior in more or less artificial circumstances.
Bervoets third novel, Everything there was (2013) is an apocalypse tale with a philosophical undertone: how do we define ourselves when the world as we know it gets destroyed? Efter (2015) is set in a near future in which our thinking about mental health has so radically changed that society has come to believe that being in love is a mental disorder, that can, and should, be treated in special clinics. ‘Love rehab’ is a common retreat for the rich, and Big Pharma is working on a new medicine to go with it: ‘Efter’
The title of Bervoets fifth novel Ivanov (2016) refers to the true story of Russian scientist Ilya Ivanov, who tried to cross-breed humans with apes in the 1920s. The award winning novel, however, is set in 90s New York, during the AIDS epidemic. In this modern day Frankenstein tale, female scientist Helena Frank tries to repeat Ivanovs experiments in order to find a cure for HIV – but when things get fractious, ethical questions are put aside.
In Fuzzie (2017) Bervoets explores the mechanisms behind our need for affection. Four lonely people each encounter a fluffy little ball, Fuzzie, that talks to them, soothes them, lets them pet him - or is Fuzzie female? Can a fluffy little ball really be a substitute for love, and if so, what does that tell us?
Bervoets latest theater play CarryMe (2018) examines the implications of our gig economy. CarryMe is set in a specalative future where couples can hire a surrogate mom through an app. Young, mostly low educated woman end up in the homes of the rich to carry their children: does that stimulate inequality, or is it empowering for all women involved? Like in most of Bervoets stories, the answer isn’t unequivocal.
One of the recurring themes in Bervoets work is the way (scientific) change and new technologies reshape human relationships and behavior. But her novels also focus on our thinking about society: who or what decides what is normal?
The bestselling novel Welcome in the Kingdom of the Sick (2019) investigates the way we tend to think about illness, and how society treats the sick. With Welcome in the Kingdom of the Sick Bervoets combines fantasy genre conventions with hard-boiled philosophy in an adventure novel on chronic illness.
The Things we saw (2021) is one of Bervoets most grounded works. The novella revolves around the question of who or what determines our worldview, examining the modern day world of commercial content moderators. Like all Bervoets former novels, The Things we saw explores morality and how our morals are fluid, constantly changing depending on where and with whom we are.
In the short story collection A modern Desire (2021) Bervoets combines all her major themes – our longing to belong, the way culture shapes morality, the mechanisms of affection – while focusing on the complexity of relationships: romantic relationships, friendships, but also the bonds between human and animal, parent and child, human and machine.
‘Bervoets stretches the boundaries of literature.’ – De Groene Amsterdammer
‘She’s a writer who in a short time has built up a very idiosyncratic body of work, composed of science fiction-like novels of ideas, which are most welcome in our literary landscape. The pleasure of her novels lies primarily in their always surprising, sharp observations, as well as the irresistible narratives skill.’ – Trouw
‘Bervoets combines speed, suspense, and cunning plot twists with introspection and abstract ideas. At times philosophical, at other times psychological, and sometimes both. Taken together, it makes for quite a unique body of work. Novels suitable for a wide audience, yet also for hardboiled literary snobs. Or, to borrow a film comparison: Bervoets’ novels are suited for both the art-house connoisseur and the popcorn guzzler who just wants to be entertained for an hour and a half.’ – HP/De Tijd
‘With Hanna Bervoets speaks a writer that always accurately formulates, constructs limberly, is full of imagination and never becomes roaming or explicit.’ – Jury Frans Kellendonk Award