notes on dutch literature

Posts Tagged ‘Arnon Grunberg’


In Pick of the Week on March 15, 2013 at 11:21 AM

By Thomas Bouwmeester After The Dinner: A Round Up of Newly Translated Dutch Fiction in The Millions.

Tirza is a story about the obsessive love of a father for his daughter and is one of the most renowned novels by Amsterdam-born, New York City resident Arnon Grunberg, who debuted as a novelist in 1994 and has since created a vast oeuvre of fiction, literary journalism, essays, and stage plays. Tirza was translated by
Sam Garrett and published by Open Letter.

Tirza revolves around Jörgen Hofmeester, for whom things aren’t going very well: he lost his job as an editor and all his savings after investing in a hedge fund. His wife left him, but suddenly returns after three years, shortly before their daughter Tirza is about to move out after graduating from high school.

Tirza is the apple of Hofmeester’s eye, and he can’t let her go. When Tirza introduces her boyfriend Choukri to him, Choukri’s strong resemblance to 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta occurs to Hofmeester, who starts to regard him as his “personal terrorist.” Later on, Tirza announces that she and Choukri want to travel to Africa. The three of them spend a weekend together at a farmhouse in the Dutch countryside before Hofmeester drops them off at the Frankfurt airport. The story reaches its apotheosis when Hofmeester, after not having heard from Tirza for a few weeks, travels to Namibia to look for her.

“Grunberg chronicles the mistakes of a morose Dutch bourgeois and constructs a delectable psychological thriller.” — Le Figaro

“With this novel, Grunberg advances slowly but surely toward the class of major authors who write lucidly about the incomprehensibility of human actions.” — Haarlems dagblad


Literary provocateur

In Pick of the Week on November 18, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Jewish Messiah - Arnon Grunberg

Prolific Dutch novelist Arnon Grunberg was born in Amsterdam in 1971, lives and works in New York City. He was kicked out of school at seventeen and started his own publishing company, specializing in non-Aryan German literature, at the age of nineteen. His first novel, Blue Mondays, written at the age of twenty-three, became a bestseller in Europe, won the Anton Wachter Prize. His second novel, Silent Extras was similarly successful, and Phantom Pain, his third, won the Dutch AKO Prize. He won he Flemish Golden Owl Award for Tirza (2006). Writing under the name Marek van der Jagt, Grunberg published The History of My Baldness, which won him the Anton Wachter Prize for the second time, a prize for the best debut novel of the last two years. He is the only novelist in the history of this prize to have won it twice. Other work published under the pseudonym Van der Jagt are Gstaad 95-98 (2002), as well as the essay Monogaam (Monogamous, 2004). Grunberg also writes plays, essays and travel columns.

Donna Seaman, LA Times wrote about The Jewish Messiah (2008): Grunberg is a master of stealthy wit, land mine-like understatement, whiplash dialogue and lacerating social commentary. Every character is brought to excruciatingly vivid life in sharply etched if ludicrous scenes of menace, subterfuge, grotesque psychosis and diabolical cruelty. Each shrewdly constructed and unnerving encounter is designed to expose hypocrisy, guilt, pain, ignorance and unreason, the chemistry of inhumanity. While Grunberg’s absurdist parody is devilishly clever and robustly ironic, it is too grim and freighted for laugh-out-loud humor.

His latest novel, The Man Without Illness was recently published in the Netherlands. The novel is not yet available in translation, but an excerpt of The Man Without Illness can be found here.

Arnon Grunberg is one of the few writers whose most novels are available in English (translations by Sam Garrett and Arnold & Erica Pomerans) Blue Mondays (1997), Silent Extras (2001), Phantom Pain (2004), The Jewish Messiah (2008). For a complete overview of novels, stories and essays by Arnon Grunberg:

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