notes on dutch literature

Posts Tagged ‘Pushkin Press’

While the Gods Were Sleeping shortlisted for Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

In Awards, Masters on April 11, 2015 at 5:39 PM

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The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was inaugurated by British newspaper The Independent to honour contemporary fiction in translation in the United Kingdom. This year eminent Dutch-language Belgian author Erwin Mortier’s While the Gods Were Sleeping is one of the contenders, joined by literary giant Haruki Murakami, German authors Jenny Erpenbeck and Daniel Kehlmann, Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel from Equatorial Guinea and Colombian Tomás González. The winner will be presented with the prize at the Royal Institute of British Architects on 27 May.

Helena’s mother always said she was a born poetess. It was not a compliment. Now an old woman, Helena looks back on her life and tries to capture the past, filling notebook after notebook with memories of her respectable, rigid upbringing, her unyielding mother, her loyal father, her golden-haired brother. She remembers how, at their uncle’s country house in the summer of 1914, their stately bourgeois life of good manners, white linen and afternoon tea collapsed into ruins. And how, with war, came a kind of liberation amidst the mud and rubble and the appearance of a young English photographer who transformed her existence.

Lyrical and tender, filled with images of blazing intensity, While the Gods Were Sleeping asks how it is possible to record the dislocation of war; to describe the indescribable. It is a breathtaking novel about the act of remembering, how the past seeps into our lives and how those we have lost leave their trace in the present.

While the Gods Were Sleeping was translated by acclaimed translator Paul Vincent and published by Pushkin Press.

Erwin Mortier made his mark in 1999 with his debut novel Marcel, which was awarded several prizes in Belgium and the Netherlands, and received acclaim throughout Europe. While the Gods were Sleeping received the AKO Literature Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in the Netherlands.

Paul Vincent taught Dutch at the University of London for over twenty years before becoming a full-time translator. He has translated a wide variety of literature from Dutch, including Louis Couperus’s Inevitable and the Hidden Force as well as J.J. Slauerhoff’s The Forbidden Kingdom for Pushkin Press. In 2012 he was awarded the Vondel Translation Prize.

Classic novel De Avonden translated by Pushkin Press

In Masters on February 12, 2015 at 9:23 AM

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Gerard Reve’s classic novel De Avonden (The Evenings) is to be translated into English for the first time, almost 70 years after it was first published. Reve is considered one of the great figures of post-war Dutch literature.

De Avonden was Reve’s debut novel, first published in 1947 when he was 24. The book revolves around Frits van Egters, who is 23 and has a boring office job. The 10 chapters depict in painstaking detail the last 10 days of the year Frits spends with his family, office colleagues and friends.

Provocative and witty, The Evenings could be described as a Dutch equivalent to Camus’s The Outsider, but the protagonist’s heartfelt yearning for meaning and the novel’s uncanny, twilit atmosphere make it like nothing else I’ve ever read. I absolutely love this book, which is consistently voted as one of the best Dutch novels of all time, and we’re thrilled to be adding it to the Pushkin list. Daniel Seton, Commissioning Editor.

The Evenings is being published in Britain by Pushkin Press and translated by prize-winning Sam Garrett, who has previously translated work by Herman Koch, Arnon Grunberg and Geert Mak.

The Forbidden Kingdom

In Masters on November 7, 2012 at 9:51 AM

The Forbidden Kingdom - Slauerhoff

Jan Jacob Slauerhoff’s novel The Forbidden Kingdom, first published in 1932, is regarded as an important example of Dutch modernism. Translated from the Dutch by the award-winning Paul Vincent and published by Pushkin Press last August.

Review by the Guardian:

The Forbidden Kingdom is a romantic tale of adventure, seafaring and colonialism, told through an experimental narrative. Vincent’s translation presents a sophisticated form of double Dutch, as two parallel narratives slip back and forth, one concerning the 16th-century Portuguese poet Luis Camoes, the other a nameless 20th-century ship’s radio operator who describes himself as “the most rootless and raceless person alive”. Gradually, their trajectories are set on a collision course whereby Slauerhoff drops heavy hints they may be the same person.

It’s a confounding read, full of false starts, chronological quirks and unreliable narrators. The radio operator passes the time “constantly reading a book on the history of the three empires, which had the advantage that you never finished it, since by the end you had forgotten the beginning”. You lay this one aside understanding how he feels.

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