The Jan Wolkers Prize 2020, the prize for the best Dutch-language nature book, goes this year to ‘What trees tell us’ by Valerie Trouet. In that book, our compatriot explains how we can study the history and climate change on the basis of tree rings.
A sum of 5,000 is attached to the prize. After seven Dutch winners, the prize now goes to a Belgian for the first time. Stefan Brijs was also among the five nominees, with the book ‘Messages from the Valley’.
‘Trouet is a skilful author who takes the reader by the hand like an enthusiastic guide and learns to see with new eyes’, is the verdict of the jury. ‘That guide certainly does not shy away from his own opinion on a number of highly topical, very pressing issues, and knows how to articulate them skillfully and convincingly. Anyone who can do that, using only the pen and the written word as an instrument, is not only a gifted author, but also a great storyteller who deserves the laurel wreath with gusto. ‘
In a review from What trees tell us in The Standard of Letters Trouet was praised for the way in which she could portray technically difficult matters, while creating a tension arc. The toughest technical passage, involving even a formula and graphs, serves the most important insight in this book: Even the most extreme climatic fluctuations of the past are nothing like what mankind set in motion by disrupting the carbon cycle in the atmosphere.