Art history lecturer. Has written an elegant, original novel of ideas about love and art.
Bregje Hofstede lives in Brussels and studied art history and French in Utrecht, Paris and Berlin. She works at a European organisation for the conservation of religious heritage and teaches art history at the Radboud University Nijmegen. Her short stories and essays won her an encouragement bursary from the renowned literary magazine Hollands Maandblad. In 2014 she published her debut novel De hemel boven Parijs [The Sky over Paris], in which she describes the relationship between a Parisian professor of art history and a student in whom he recognises the lost love of his youth. The book is the embodiment of the theme it explores: it is better to throw caution to the wind and make a start than endlessly to pursue an ideal, in writing as in art and love. It was nominated for the Gouden Boekenuil award and the Libris Literature Prize and has been translated into German and Swedish.
The Sky over Paris
C.H. Beck Verlag, 2015
Translated by Heike Baryga
Original title: De hemel boven Parijs (Cossee, 2014)
The Sky over Paris is Bregje Hofstede’s first novel. The comfortable routine of Olivier, a professor of art history at the Sorbonne, is disrupted when his boss asks him to offer guidance to a foreign female student. The awkward Dutch student awakens memories from Olivier’s past, that he would rather have forgotten, but which at the same time are the most dear to him.
Against his better judgment, he opens himself for his pupil, giving her advice that he himself never managed to follow. But Fie has her own life. She struggles with an impossible choice: to reach for the very best, and to be devoured by it — or not to start trying at all in order not to fail. She firmly resists her own fear of life, and invites Olivier to do the same.
The Sky over Paris is about the lies we tell ourselves, so we don’t have to do what we desire most. This is one of the most outstanding love stories in contemporary Dutch literature, and a magnificent debut by a young author.