Maxim Februari has been VU Amsterdam’s Vrije Schrijver (Writer in Residence) since 1 June 2020. His appointment coincides with the Kuyper Year, when VU Amsterdam celebrates its 140th birthday.
Februari on his appointment: “I have decided that I would love to be the Vrije Schrijver. I think speaking about text and about writing is good, because if there is one way to pull ourselves out of the swamp by our own hair, so to speak, then it’s by doing something. And writing, conscious writing that is, is doing something.”
Februari is the fourteenth Vrije Schrijver at VU Amsterdam and Arnon Grunberg’s successor. He was also preceded by Writers in Residence such as Bas Heijne, Ernest van der Kwast, Ronald Giphart, Renate Dorrestein and Abdelkader Benali. Februari’s appointment is for the duration of one year.
“When I heard that Maxim Februari would be our next Vrije Schrijver, I was immediately reminded of the first sentence of his last novel: “The lump was the enemy”. It is going to be a challenge to come out on the other end of this crisis in unity, without thinking in terms of us versus them. It is great that we have a creative mind as part of the team, someone who can help us use clear and sharp language”, said Rector Magnificus Vinod Subramaniam.
Maxim Februari studied art history, philosophy and law at Utrecht University. In 1989, under the pseudonym M. Februari, he published his first novel, The Sons of the View, for which he received the Multatuli Prize. In 1991, he obtained his doctorate from Tilburg University with a thesis on economics and ethics: Een pruik van paardenhaar & Over het lezen van een boek: Amartya Sen en de Onmogelijkheid van de Paretiaanse liberaal (A wig made from horse hair & About reading a book: Amartya Sen and the Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal). This dissertation was nominated for the Golden Owl Award for literature. The Book Club, from 2007, about a wealthy, middle class group of people who become confronted with their own moral behaviour by reading a popular novel, was shortlisted for the Golden Owl Award. The book was also nominated for the Libris Literature Award. In 2008, Februari received the Frans Kellendonk Prize for his entire body of work and in 2011 he gave the annual Mosse lecture. In December of 2019, Februari won the 2020 P.C. Hooft Prize.
He has been writing for NRC Handelsblad since 2010. He has also written columns for De Volkskrant.