notes on dutch literature

Posts Tagged ‘Sam Garrett’

Classic novel De Avonden translated by Pushkin Press

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


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.


Caesarion shortlisted for IMPAC

In Awards on April 11, 2013 at 9:07 AM

Wieringa shortlisted for IMPAC
Caesarion by Tommy Wieringa is one of the ten books contending for the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2013. Thanks to his shortlisted novel, Wieringa finds himself in the company of Michel Houellebecq (The Map and the Territory) and Haruki Murakami (1Q84).

The Impac Award is unusual because both novels written in English as well as novels translated into English are allowed to compete. The prize of €100,000, awarded annually, is divided between translator (€25,000) and author (€75,000) if a translation wins. The international jury, chaired by Eugene R. Sullivan, will announce the winner on Thursday 6th June.

About Caesarion
Ludwig Unter’s life held such promise. His parents were artists and, from an early age, his own musical genius had marked him out for a stellar career in the world’s concert halls. In his mother’s imagination, Ludwig is already on the way to surpassing her most ambitious dreams for him. But in reality, and for now, he’s playing in local cocktail bars and the two of them are living alone in a storm-lashed clifftop cottage in East Anglia. As the forceful winter seas bash away at the coastline, and Ludwig plunks away at the piano, he begins to tell a woman his story: a story of beauty and decay, of a child’s faith and parental betrayal, and of the importance, in the end, of self-sacrifice.

Caesarion was translated by Sam Garrett and published by Portobello (UK) and Grove (USA, under the title Little Caesar).


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

The greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure

In Pick of the Week on January 20, 2013 at 8:36 PM

The Rider - Tim Krabbe
“If there’s one book every cyclist should read, it’s The Rider by Tim Krabbé. Just like knowing the basic skill of how to fix a puncture, this should be mandatory reading for every cyclist.[…]I’ve never read anything that captures the essence of the pleasure, the suffering and the insanity of a bike race so perfectly” Cycling Tips

English readers know Tim Krabbé primarily for The Vanishing, the translation of his 1984 novel Het Gouden Ei (The Golden Egg), which was made into an acclaimed 1988 Dutch film for which Krabbé co-wrote a script.
Originally published in Holland in 1978, The Rider became an instant cult classic, selling over 100,000 copies. Translated by the gifted Sam Garret and published by Bloomsbury in 2002.

The Rider is brilliantly conceived and written at a breakneck pace, it is a loving, imaginative, and, above all, passionate tribute to the art of bicycle road racing. Like much of Krabbé’s oeuvre, The Rider has a strange, dark, philosophical flavour: it is both a paean to pain and a hymn to the fellowship of the road. Nothing better is ever likely to be written on the subjective experience of cycle-racing.

Cycling is one of Krabbé’s great enthusiasms. Though he discovered his talent for cycle-racing relatively late in life, in his 30s. That new-found passion eventually found its way into this autobiographical novella about a 150-kilometre bike race in south-west France, the Tour de Mont Aigoual. “Suffering always appealed to me – it’s the essence of cycling. When I was eight or nine, I loved running against my friends. I had an image of myself as able to endure physical strain.” He explains in an interview with the Guardian.

“The greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure. That is nature’s payback to riders for the homage they pay her by suffering. Velvet pillows, safari parks, sunglasses; people have become woolly mice. They still have bodies that can walk for five days and four nights through a desert of snow, without food, but they accept praise for having taken a one-hour bicycle ride. ‘Good for you’. Instead of expressing their gratitude for the rain by getting wet, people walk around with umbrellas. Nature is an old lady with few friends these days, and those who wish to make use of her charms, she rewards passionately.” from The Rider.

Shadowchild – A Meditation on Love and Loss

In Pick of the Week on December 17, 2012 at 10:20 AM

Loss baby
Missing word. A woman who buries her husband is called a widow, a man left behind without his wife, a widower. A child without parents is an orphan. But what do you call the father and mother of a child that has died?

Shadowchild is an extraordinarily moving yet unsentimental examination of a parent’s grief over the loss of a child. P.F. Thomése’s baby was just a few weeks old when she died of a brain hemorrhage, and suddenly a piece of his life and heart was gone. But how do you recall that which is missing? How can we replace that which is lost? In powerful prose, he describes how he and his wife prepared for her birth; he remembers the first night they all three slept in the same bed. And after her death, Thomése finds himself desperately seeking the appropriate words to express his desolation. But he feels that “If she still exists anywhere, then it’s in language.” And so he begins to search for a new language to describe a grief that is too terrible to fit into everyday words.

At once a declaration of love, an elegy and a self-examination, Shadowchild is a profoundly moving mediation on love, death and personal tragedy.

Shadowchild is published by Bloomsbury (UK) and by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux (USA, 2005), translation by the talented Sam Garrett.

Interview Herman Koch

In Interviews on November 17, 2012 at 1:20 PM

Herman Koch

“What a tremendous book. I loved ever single gripping and strange thing about it,” commented M.J. Hyland on The Dinner; a novel about middle-class manners and parenting which has swept a tide of opinion before it.

Dutch actor and writer Herman Koch’s The Dinner is one of those zeitgeist-tapping book which has won both critical acclaim and prizes but also sold in stupendous quantities – over a million copies in Europe to date. Deborah Brooks interviewed Herman Koch on behalf of Bookoxygen.

It’s sadly the case that authors who sparkle in prose can sometimes be exceptionally dour in life. Herman Koch’s publicist had already emailed me to tell me: ‘Herman is great fun – you’ll like him,’  but I suspect that these words might have made me worry that he was anything but, had I not enjoyed the book so very much. The Dinner is certainly not light-hearted and only in a few places could it be described as ‘fun’, but it is darkly funny and extremely well observed, clearly the work of a writer who delights in detail and bringing to life characters who both amuse and appal.  My interview with Herman Koch was perforce done via phone during his brief UK visit and five minutes into the call I found myself not only enjoying our conversation immensely but also deciding that Herman Koch is indeed a man you would like to have dinner with, just not the dinner described in the book.

Read here the rest of Deborah Brooks’ interview with Herman Koch

The Dinner deserves its success

In Review on November 17, 2012 at 1:07 PM

The dinner - Herman Koch

The Dinner by Herman Koch. Translated by Sam Garrett, published by Atlantic; £12.99. To be published in America in February 12, 2013 by Hogarth; $24

It is almost unheard of for a Dutch novel to become an international bestseller, but Herman Koch’s The Dinner has done the trick. In the Netherlands this psychological thriller sold 400,000 copies in hardback alone, and has so far sold more than 1m copies worldwide. Despite a deceptively shaky narrative start, The Dinner deserves its success. Simon Kuper, Financial Times

Fine dining, at least in the West, is a drama in five acts. The arc moves from aperitif to digestif, from first course to dessert, the curtain rising with each unveiled plate. The five-course dinner is such a perfect theatrical setting in which to spy on unhappy families that it is surprising meals are not used more often by fiction writers and playwrights.

Herman Koch, a 58-year-old Dutch actor and comedian, has filled the gap with a novel that became an immediate bestseller when it was first published in the Netherlands in 2009. “The Dinner” has since sold more than 1m copies in 24 countries, from Norway to South Korea.

Mr Koch’s sixth novel is a psychological thriller about two Dutch families, each with a 15-year-old son. The boys have committed a horrifying act, which has been caught on camera. Grainy images of them cackling cruelly have been put up on YouTube. Despite a nationwide manhunt, the boys remain unidentified—by everyone except their parents.

Read the Economist review here.

Publishers Weekly picks Little Caesar

In Pick of the Week on November 5, 2012 at 2:51 PM

Little Caesar Tommy Wieringa

Publishers Weekly picked Tommy Wieringa’s new novel Little Caesar as one of the Best New Books of this week:

As Wieringa’s second English-language novel (after Joe Speedboat) begins, down-and-out musician Ludwig Unger returns to coastal Kings Ness, England, where the houses are in constant danger of tumbling into the sea and the rabbits are all inexplicably diseased, making it immediately clear that we’re in surreal territory despite the lucidity of the narration and prose. From his perch at a hotel lounge piano where he performs schmaltzy standards, Ludwig tells his tale: upon discovering that his mother was actually Eve LeSage, “the Grace Kelley of porn,” Ludwig, then 21, traveled to L.A. to confront her, only to witness her Las Vegas comeback after two decades out of the spotlight. Longing for less radical expressions of love from his mother, Ludwig goes with her and her production company to Vienna and Prague. Eve’s all-consuming sexuality makes a liability of Ludwig at every turn, but it’s an unforeseen problem with her attempt at a career revival that propels Ludwig to flee to Panama, where he encounters the sinister father who abandoned the family. Although perfectly charming as picaresque, the tragedy of Unger’s plight registers just as strongly as its understated oddness.

Little Caesar is translated from the Dutch by Sam Garrett.

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