Historian, journalist and author Geert Mak (1946) is this year's recipient of the Gouden Veer (Golden Quill). The prize is awarded to writers whose work is not only of cultural value but also shows a great measure of social involvement.
Mak, whose work includes the best-selling My father's century and his political travelogue In Europe, has long been a unique voice in the Netherlands, integrating the personal into an historical narrative.
In an interview with public broadcaster Nos on Friday, Mak said today's pens are not necessarily less sharp than in the past. 'People can still get pretty agitated by the written word, although other media have come to the fore. Television is incredibly powerful, not to mention the internet and the white noise that is Twitter.'