19 May 2020

Literary prize for an extraordinary winner: Catherine Newell

Joseph Conrad, Vladimir Nabokov and now Catherine Newell. After less than two years of studying Dutch, Catherine's entry was crowned winner in the international writing competition Write Now! Worldwide.

Student wins first prize in international writing competition

Catherine Newell wrote her winning  short story Kinderspel in Dutch. 'I used to write stories when I was younger, but not so much recently', Catherine says modestly. 'It took me about two weeks to complete the text and then I translated it into English because my flatmate wanted to read it too.' She wins an i-pad, €250 worth in books, and she is invited to put forward a second story.

Kinderspel describes a pivotal moment in the life of Abigail, who reaches a point of no return during a trip to rethink the relationship with her childhood boyfriend.

The jury deemed Newell’s language 'beautiful' and 'clear’, described the text as 'musical', and the story as 'carefully constructed'. 'No detail is without meaning, such as the bag with the text ‘Jesus loves all children’ still faintly readable.'

Write Now! is a literary writing competition with a long history and a big reputation in the Netherlands and Flanders. For over twenty years Write Now! has helped young artists to kick-start their writing career. However, it was only for the 2020 edition that an international element was added: Write Now! Worldwide

Thirteen aspiring authors from Russia, China, Germany, Poland, Suriname and more, sent in their texts, which prompted author and jury member Lisa Weeda to exclaim: ‘Such distances, such texts, such pluck to send us your stories and poetry in Dutch”. And indeed, to have the ambition, drive and the guts to enter a writing competition is remarkable enough, but to do so in Dutch with less than two years' experience in the language, is nothing short of extraordinary. At Sheffield we are very proud of Catherine's achievement.

Read Kinderspel (in Dutch)

From the Write Now! Jury report:

En dan! Tot slot, nummer 1. Hierover schreven we: mooie, heldere taal, met een prettige cadans. De tekst heeft ook iets melodieus, en daardoor wordt extra duidelijk wat de gevoelslading van de zinnen is -de paar grammaticale fouten doen daar weinig aan af. De verwijzing naar Winterson is erg goed gedaan. Het verhaal zit strak in elkaar. Geen detail is betekenisloos, bijvoorbeeld de tas waarop nog vaag ‘Jezus houdt van alle kind’ren’ te lezen is. Een zwaar thema, afgezet tegen ‘het is maar een kinderspelletje’ – waar dan ook de clou van het verhaal in zit – maakt het verhaal 'Kinderspel' van Catherine R. Newell uit Groot-Brittannië voor ons de winnaar vanWrite Now! Wereldwijd.

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