notes on dutch literature

Posts Tagged ‘MacLehose Press’

The Guard – Peter Terrin

In Review on December 10, 2012 at 8:46 AM

Peter Terrin
Harry and Michel live in the basement of a luxury apartment block, guarding the inhabitants. No-one goes outside. The world might be at war – it might even have been plunged into nuclear winter. No-one knows. All Harry and Michel know is that if they are vigilant, ‘the Organization’ will reward them: promotion to an elite cadre of security officers remains their shining goal. But what if there were no-one left to guard? And if the promised relief shift arrives, how will they fit in to Michel and Harry’s studied routine of boredom and paranoia?

The Guard by Flemish writer Peter Terrin, was translated by David Colmer and published by MacLehose Press. The Guard won the European Prize for Literture. He was nominated for major literary awards several times, including the AKO Literature Prize and the Libris Literature Prize. He recently won the AKO Literature Prize this year for his most recent novel Post Mortem.

Peter Terrin represents a unique voice in contemporary Dutch-language literature, touching on universal and highly topical themes alike. Terrin, who has been described as ‘a master of ominous detail’, is considered by critics to be a literary maverick, a classic writer who doesn’t follow trends, and a masterful stylist.

‘There’s a cold and beautiful precision to Peter Terrin’s writing, and a remorselessness and finally terrifying accretion of detail that begins by seeming fussy and ends by being unsettling’ SFX.

The Guard is so good, its world so minutely described and Michel so undeniably compelling that to suggest anything other than to pick this up and read it immediately would be to do it a disservice’ SciFi Now.

It’s not a lengthy book, but whereas some genre writers would have a field-day in providing a novella around this brilliant situation, Terrin keeps us there for the longer haul, and successfully fleshes out his creation to a full-length novel that has much more in common with Pinter – a relentless masculinity, a wilful drive through the darker side of life, and a gripping sense of control over its audience. While we are isolated in just one fraction of a rarefied, seemingly apocalyptic world, and we cannot be sure what the two characters have full control over, the reader is with Terrin to the end, making this one of the more intriguing variants of the thriller you will come across this year. The Book Bag

Peter Terrin will be one of the six writers touring to six UK cities during the High Impact literary festival, January 14th – January 19th 2013.

Roads to Berlin

In Review on December 6, 2012 at 10:54 PM

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/1adc7396-0ca0-11e2-a73c-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2EZGuSck4
“As Jan Morris is to Venice or Trieste, as Edmund White to Paris and Claudio Magris to the Danube, so is Cees Nooteboom to Berlin”. Rebecca K. Morrison, Independent

Roads to Berlin maps the changing landscape of Germany, from the period before the fall of the Wall to the present. Written and updated over the course of several decades, an eyewitness account of the pivotal events of 1989 gives way to a perceptive appreciation of its difficult passage to reunification. Nooteboom’s writings on politics, people, architecture and culture are as digressive as they are eloquent; his innate curiosity takes him through the landscapes of Heine and Goethe, steeped in Romanticism and mythology, and to Germany’s baroque cities. With an outsider’s objectivity he has crafted an intimate portrait of the country to its present day.

Roads to Berlin contains a promise of sorts: that, once tasted, you will always find a road back to a city which will be familiar and yet not. Beautifully translated by Laura Watkinson with a helpful glossary and a bibliography to escort the reader on further journeys, this is a delightful book.

“Roads to Berlin goes some way to explaining why Nooteboom is so highly regarded . . . Roads to Berlin is thoughtful, meditative and strong when he ponders on time, memory and history. There are also diversions into Germany’s literature and theatre, politics and people . . . Nooteboom’s insightful prose is, as the book’s subtitle promises, a luxurious detour in the lands and history of Germany” Ben East, Metro

Read here the blog post by Nooteboom’s translator Laura Wilkenson:
Laura Watkinson: Discovering Cees Nooteboom’s Berlin

Roads to Berlin is published by MacLehose Press, UK

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