THE SECRET DIARY OF HENDRIK GROEN, 83 1/4 YEARS OLD
By Hendrik Groen
Michael Joseph 2016, Grand Central 2017
Cheeky international best-seller about life in an old age home.
"[The Secret Diary] has already achieved the status of international bestseller. It isn't difficult to see why. Hendrik Groen (a pseudonym, it is rumoured) writes with a positively breezy immediacy, which is faithfully captured in Hester Velmans's admirable translation." — Paul Bailey, Literary Review
"As it happens, I am reading the Dutch bestseller, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old, in which a care home resident chronicles a year of creaky joints and bad behaviour... It has a fine, idiomatic translation, and in places is very funny." —Jeremy Paxton, Financial Times
“The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen continues to draw headlines as the press tries to figure out who is behind the pseudonymous work, written as the diary of an elderly man.”— Publishers Weekly
“Nothing is a lie, but not all of it is true.” — Henrik Groen
You can read an article about translating the first lines of this novel here: ATHENEUM BOEKHANDEL
Penguin 2018, Grand Central 2019
"Hendrik’s optimism and comical take on it all makes On The Bright Side another hugely enjoyable and heart-warming read as he demonstrates once again that age is really just a number." – Michael Harrison, Culturefly
By Niña Weijers
DoppelHouse Press September 2017
An existential and philosophical Bildungsroman set in the conceptual art world.
"Is life a creation? Is the created life authentic? Or, like the work of art, does it two-step with commodification, a dance in which power over the creation is constantly changing hands? These are some of the many questions posed by The Consequences, the highly lauded debut novel from Dutch writer Niña Weijers, newly released in a meticulous translation by Hester Velmans [...] The Consequences is reminiscent of Milan Kundera. Yet where Kundera employs himself as the didactic narrator, using his characters as examples to illustrate a thesis, Weijers puts existential insights directly into the minds of her characters. The result is a much less controlled narrative, one which leaps from thought to thought without ever venturing an answer, and whose characters emerge as unsettling, flawed, neurotic, self-aware (sometimes uncannily self-aware) – in short, disarmingly real." —Amanda Serasian, The Literary Review
“The temptation not to exist, to disappear from the world you’re walking around in, the art you come upon and live with: when you write it down, it sounds like heavy going; when you read it, it’s light. So read it.” —Cees Nooteboom
You can read an article about translating the first lines of this novel here: ATHENEUM
By Herman Franke
NEA (National Endowment of the Arts) Translation Fellowship
A posthumous novel narrated by the dying author's indignant protagonist.
Traag Licht, written while the author was dying of prostate cancer, takes the form of a struggle between the fictional narrator and Franke himself, whom he calls “the boss”. The narrator thinks Franke is proceeding too cautiously, since he still has a multitude of stories he wants to get off his chest, especially his obsession with discovering the identity of the woman whose risqué turn-of-the-century stereoscopic portrait—a quest that comes at the expense of his real-life relationships. The profiles he draws of people he meets leave the reader guessing which are true and which are imagined. Together they paint a picture of a knowing yet naïve, romantic yet selfish, provincial yet worldly protagonist who, by writing about others, is trying to find out the truth about himself. Herman Franke worked on Traag Licht until four days before his death; it is his last, courageous ode to life.
“Writers are criminals. They have the guts to recognize the evil in themselves and to acknowledge it in their stories.” – Herman Franke
NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS 2014 LITERATURE TRANSLATION FELLOWSHIP for translation of Traag Licht by Herman Franke.
Translator's statement: "With death snapping at his heels, Herman Franke wound up adopting a daring, unorthodox narrative structure for this, the last of a planned open-ended, multi-volume novel, interweaving the first-person narrator's endless stream of stories with jottings, musings, and stated intentions. They allow both the character and his author to sketch the broad outlines of stories that might otherwise have got away." READ MORE
GIRL IN THE DARK
By Marion Pauw
William Morrow 2016
A taut, riveting domestic drama about a long-lost brother convicted of a horrifying crime and a sister’s fight to clear his name.
“One of the most thrilling and entertaining suspense writers of The Netherlands--or any country for that matter. Marion Pauw just may be the Dutch answer to Gillian Flynn.” — Herman Koch, author of The Dinner
“Pauw’s American debut is a tense revelation of dangerous family secrets and a challenge to preconceptions about autism.... A must-read for fans of character-driven stories, such as Tana French’s Faithful Place.” — Booklist (starred review)
"One of the year's most extraordinary thrillers...her prose flows marvelously, without a hint of stilted translation."
—Nick Martin, Winnipeg Free Press
THE DARKNESS THAT DIVIDES US
By Renate Dorrestein
World Editions 2015
A shattering look at the cruelty of children and the cruelty of the world, even when we are too naïve to understand it.
"In a story that roams from Holland to the wilderness of the Outer Hebrides, Dorrestein gives us an interesting study in how we intuitively know things aren't right even if we don't know why; how we cope with the lies and subsequent trauma; and how we are not so much in control of events are we like to think we are."— We Love This Book (The Bookseller)
"...A stunning mixture of many genres. The criminal story provides popular, psychological, folkloric, parodic, and psychological hints of secret codes to solve the murder case"— American Book Review
THE HORMONE FACTORY
By Saskia Goldschmidt
Other Press 2014
A novel set in the early days of big pharma, about the men who discovered and exploited the potential of the human hormone
"The Hormone Factory is a dark, fascinating exploration of man's nature set during an era of exciting scientific discovery and geopolitical turmoil." —The Lancet
“Exposing the intense dynamic that lies beneath sex, power and money, The Hormone Factory details the transformation of something so human into something inhumane, through ruthless capitalistic pursuit. The candid tongue of Motke's narration fires up this fast-paced novel, making him a character who won't soon be forgotten.” —The Skinny
THE ANGEL MAKER By Stefan Brijs
A literary page-turner about one man's macabre ambition to create life, and secure immortality
“The Angelmaker, first published in Dutch in 2005 and now available in a superb translation by Hester Velmans, is one of the most complex novels I have read in a long time, and also, not coincidentally, one of the most satisfying.”— Paul Kincaid, Strange Horizons
“Stefan Brijs’s The Angel Maker is, in some ways, a revisiting of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. As in Shelley’s novel, Brijs gives us a central character, also named Victor, who, consumed with his scientific discoveries, seeks to create life and somehow displace God in the process. And yet, for all its similarities to Frankenstein, Brijs’s novel is fresh, interesting, and eminently compelling, and Hester Velmans manages a smooth, readable translation.” — Bookslut
* IMPAC 2010 Longlist
THE VOYAGE OF THE SHORT SERPENT
By Bernard du Boucheron
Bernard du Boucheron caused a literary sensation in France with this tale of a bishop’s attempted reclamation of a medieval Norse colony in Greenland.
“Hester Velmans, the literary translator, has moved her translation forward to the creative illumination of a kind of co-authorship. Reading the tale of the frozen wasteland of New Thule, with the French original book, Court Serpent, alongside, this suggestive, often insightful, translation fills the reader (and this critic) with nothing less than a great awe of Velmans’s magical professionalism.” — DInda Dorlee, American Book Review
“Can a novel that features cannibalism, amputations, burning at the stake and the devouring of children by wolves be a comedy? Tackling the gruesome and the grotesque with gleeful abandon, The Voyage of the Short Serpent is an eccentric, slightly maddened and often brutally funny tale of a colony of Roman Catholics marooned in medieval Greenland by the encroachment of a new ice age.”
— Ligaya Mishan, The New York Times
* IMPAC 2010 Longlist
THE DREAM MERCHANT
By Isabel Hoving
Walker Books/Candlewick 2005 (ages 12 and up)]
Winner of the Netherlands' most prestigious children's book award, this epic adventure quest draws readers deep into a collective dream world — and sweeps them along on a riveting journey through a reimagined past.
“Here’s the evidence we should be publishing more books in translation. Brilliant.” — Michael Morpurgo
“This ambitious, well-crafted epic crosses vast, treacherous territories of time, dreams, geography and legend. A feud between two ancient ancestral brothers from the beginning of time shapes Josh’s quest as he travels backwards through centuries. Profound and serious; offbeat and clever. (Fantasy. YA)
— Kirkus Reviews
"A sophisticated adventure along the lines of Mervin Peake's Gormenghast trilogy. Some readers may be daunted by the many twists and turns that reveal who is good and who is bad, and by the novel's sheer length. But this is a sustained flight of fancy, and may well appeal to fantasy fans. Ages 12-up." — Publishers Weekly
By Renate Dorrestein
An intense domestic thriller in which a beloved only child's death destroys an already shaky marriage.
"Reading the Dutch novelist Renate Dorrestein is an infallible reminder of how rare it is to find a gripping story about the old and the very young ... an effectively touching translation of a tale of three disregarded nobodies." — The Independent
“Even after only a few sentences, it’s quite clear that Velmans writes well. There is a playful suppleness to her work, an engaging lightness of touch that moves in and out of everyday speech, advertisement cliché and literary prose. Her style shows all the deftness of a true writer.” —Ron Butlin, The Sunday Herald (Scotland)
A CRYING SHAME
By Renate Dorrestein
A neglectful mother, an abusive teenage brother, and two little runaways with a very big, guilty secret.
"A chilling and disturbing novel in which family represents the heart of darkness."—The Times (London)
A HEART OF STONE
By Renate Dorrestein
The unspeakable tragedy that befalls an endearing clan, and its aftermath on the sole survivor
“Heartbreakingly unsentimental and rib-achingly hilarious by turns, this book is a double triumph, both for the author and for the translator, who has managed to translate memory into a vivid, continuous present.” —Amanda Hopkinson, The Independent
* Winner of the Vondel Translation Prize
* Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection
THE LILY THEATRE
By Lulu Wang
Nan Talese/ Doubleday
A semi-autobiographical novel about growing up in the bewildering world of China's Cultural Revolution.
“Not every novel can hook you with a translator's note, but try this one: ‘The novelty of a book written in Dutch by a young Chinese immigrant who had only just mastered that tongue took the Netherlands by storm in 1997, catapulting The Lily Theater to an almost permanent place at the top of Holland's best-seller list. …You chew on the possibly brilliant, probably disastrous implications of it all. And yet the note, by the gifted translator Hester Velmans, is an oddly relevant primer to Wang's novel, which turns out to be an honest, sprawling, sometimes frustrating, avowedly fictionalized account of the author's childhood during the Cultural Revolution.”
— Jonathan Burnham Schwartz, New York Times Book Review
* A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
BETWEEN TWO HOMELANDS: Letters across the Borders of Nazi Germany
Ed. Hedda Kalshoven, Peter Fritzsche
University of Illinois Press 2014
Correspondence between family members in Nazi Germany and the Netherlands under German occupation during World War II.
“Revealing and deeply disturbing. . . . This is useful but sad and frustrating commentary on ordinary people living their lives while the world around them is on fire.”— Booklist
"Between Two Homelands offers a distinctive perspective on the history of Nazi-era Europe. The letter collection, and the more newly discovered diary, allow the reader to watch events unfold as they are happening and through the eyes of people who are living in the moment and don't know how the story turns out. The letters allow readers to see, for example, how people weighed career ambitions against ethical scruples in deciding to participate in Nazi projects while trying to convince themselves and others that they are 'good' or 'civilized' people. There is really nothing else quite like this book."
— Mary Jo Maynes, coauthor of The Family: A World History
MY NAME IS ANNE, SHE SAID, ANNE FRANK
By Jacqueline van Maarsen
Memoir of Anne Frank's best friend before Anne went into hiding.
"Van Maarsen gave a moving first-hand account of her friendship with Anne Frank whose life and death has become emblematic of the horrors of Nazism"— The Times of London
“For years after Anne Frank's diary was published, the identity of her 'best friend' was secret. Then van Maarsen owned up. Now she has written about the Anne she knew."— Sunday Telegraph
THE PENGUIN BOOK OF POLITICAL COMICS
By Steef Davidson
“For many in the 60s, the drug of choice was thought. Navigating the mighty Amazon I came upon this 1976 Dutch work all of thirty years after its rebirth as The Penguin Book of Political Comics. It contains much rare material, lovingly tended and presented - even the German anti-Fascist captions are given rhymed translations.” — Simon Barrett
WINNIE AND THE INNOCENCE OF THE WORLD
By Joost Zwagerman
Included in The Penguin Book of Dutch Short Stories
Penguin (London) September 2016
For anyone interested in European literature these stories are an undiscovered snapshot of some of the most interesting and important writing of the twentieth and twenty-first century. From the same culture that consistently draws worldwide attention for its groundbreaking and avant-garde movements in the visual arts, this collection displays the same playfulness, innovation and sense of humor in Dutch literary movements. The stories are varied: subversive, profound, hilarious; stylistically experimental and psychologically astute.
"Evocative, pleasantly laconic, lyrical and passionate." —Volkskrant (on Zwagerman's stories)
Winnie and the Innocence of the World is published in the journal GRANTA. To read it online, click here: GRANTA 136: Legacies of Love