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International Ranald MacDonald Prize awarded to Fred Schodt

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Amsterdam, September 11, 2016 ~~  The Cultural Public Benefit Organization awarding the prize, Friends of MacDonald • The Dutch Connection,  abbreviated as FOM NL, would not have existed if Frederik L. Schodt had not written a biography of Ranald MacDonald (1824-1894). In his Native American in the Land of the Shogun: Ranald MacDonald and the Opening of Japan (Stone Bridge Press, Albany CA, 2003) he brings to life a ‘true cultural and racial hybrid—in the best sense of the word— (who) assumes heroic proportions because of his success in carving his own path in life, in an often unfriendly world’, in short, an example to follow. But, besides this book, Schodt – he calls himself a niche writer – has written many other works on related subjects, essays, historiography and translations. Therefore FOM NL granted him a special prize of 2500 euro for his oeuvre.

On October 11, 1848, year of revolutions in Europe and the gold rush in California, Japan still being ‘closed’, Ranald MacDonald met in Nagasaki with the Japanese ‘Dutch Interpreters’ and the Dutch ‘opperhoofd’, ‘chief’. This small event, which made it to the headlines in the Dutch newspapers because ‘the opening of Japan’ was hot in those days, was the reason to choose October 11th for the annual award ceremony.

The “International Ranald MacDonald Prize” will be awarded annually to the work of a debut writer or artist which is exceptionally ‘true, good and beautiful’ and sheds new light on the relations between Asia, Europe and North America. The novel In het licht van wat wij weten / In the light of what we know (Hollands Diep, Amsterdam, 2015) by Zia Haider Rahman fits this description precisely. Indeed, this book is so comprehensive, so wide ranging and has, eventually, such a remarkable outcome, that the first winner exceeded all expectations. Its quality will be the touchstone for any future award. The prize amounts to 5000 euro and the ceremony was held October 11, 2016.

~Fred Dijs   http://www.friendsofmacdonald.nl/en/2016/09/press-release/