notes on dutch literature

Narrated by a canvas

In Books that need to be reprinted on November 3, 2012 at 2:41 PM

The Portrait - Willem Jan Otten

“If you, like me, come into the world white and completely blank, with nothing on you at all, you are totally dependent on what they make of you.”

The Portrait is a short and beautiful novel from one of Holland’s most talented writers Willem Jan Otten. Reminiscent of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey – a novel narrated by a canvas, an extraordinary eye-witness and participant in an incredible story.

A young painter, loved for his fine and true-to-life portraits, receives a commission that is unlike any he’s had before: make a portrait of a dead boy. ‘You will save a life with it’ says the boy’s extremely rich father. The painter knows he will have to surpass himself. He takes on the job. Who was the boy? Why is he dead? Why, when the painting is finished, does the father not come to collect it? And why is the painter actually making this painting?

The portrait is an extraordinary and thrilling novel about the desire to bring someone into the world. It is also about love and death, betrayal and trust, truth and falsehood, lies and honesty. Otten, with all the story-telling talent he has at his disposal, plays with secrets and riddles that the reader can only unravel at the very end. Ten years after his last novel (Nothing wrong with us) Otten once again shows that he can write an ingenious, contemporary and truly gripping novel in a much shorter space than many of his peers.

It was first published in Dutch as Specht en Zoon in 2005 and  after it won the prestigious Libris Literary Award in 2006, the novel was translated in German, Italian, Swedisch, Romanian and even Korean. In 2009 it was translated in English by David Colmer and published in Australia. Unfortunately it’s currently nowhere to be found, which is a shame.

Foreign rights are represented by The Susijn Agency in London, United Kingdom.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

A Little Blog of Books

Book reviews and other literary-related musings

lis simone

PARIS LIFESTYLE BLOG

Famous books from a small country

www.laurawatkinson.com/

Just another WordPress.com site

the contextual life

thoughts without borders

ALTA Blog

literary translation news and updates

The Bookwyrm's Lair

Thoughts on Popular Books, High Literature, and the Printed Word

Fleur in her World

Notes from a bookish life on the Cornish coast ...

Bookmunch

Book reviews and occasional interviews

The Overflown

Leftovers of interviews, reviews, press trips and features by an art/food/travel journalist and writer.

Lizzy's Literary Life

Celebrating the pleasures of a 21st century bookworm

A year of reading the world

196 countries, countless stories...

The Longest Chapter

Literary fiction, poetry, first editions, classics...

WordPress.com News

Famous books from a small country

%d bloggers like this: