Special treat alert!
This is the story of how the certainties of an upstanding public prosecutor are upended in a moment of distraction, and of how the delusions of the Dutch nation are shattered with the Nazi invasion. Narrated by the prosecutor’s guardian angel, who is fighting his own battle to get his charge to do the right thing in the midst of war.
My full review of this 5* read is available on The European Literary Network.
David Colmer’s translation of the novel Hermans thought he wrote most beautifully is published today, and Pushkin Press have kindly made a copy available to giveaway. If you’d like to put your name in the hat, use the password “Scheveningen” in comments. Once you’ve read the novel, you’ll understand the significance. 😉
I’ll contact the winner by email at the beginning of next week.
Sounds fascinating – a great giveaway.
I’m so glad you liked this book. It has been on my list since I saw it in the Archipelago Books catalogue (it comes out from them in November). But I was dismayed to read a review by someone who did not like it and set out over 1500 words or so to explain why. He comes at it as a philosopher, not a book reviewer and at the end it told me nothing but I was starting to waver a little. Not any more, I’m ordering it.
I’d be interested to read that, Joe. Where can I find it?
The author is someone whose essays I edited for 3:AM a couple of times. You can find it here. https://exitonly.substack.com/p/the-dilemmas-of-mockery
I used the phrase “theologically dubious” in my ELN review, and the essay expands on that. Hermans was an atheist – I am not – but I accepted his conceits and ran with them on their own terms. Never let philosophy or religion ruin a good narrative is my motto (except where I really can’t stomach the concept.)
I object most strongly to this sentence in the essay. “ Taking Hermans literally however, he displaces conscience to the realm of devil and angels, he destroys the sense in which Alberegt could be said to act, and in doing so destroys any meaningful sense in which he is morally accountable.” Not true. The angel seeks to influence Alberegt, the devil issues counterarguments. Alberegt, also an atheist, probably isn’t listening to either of them, but still possesses a conscience to make his own moral choices, thus his agency is preserved. It’s the age-old choice between good vs bad, which exists for everyone, regardless of whether you believe in angels or devils.
Other objections to the essay: far too many spoilers, but then, as you point out, it’s not a book review.
A critical essay is fine but to publish it self described as a review a month before the book comes out is unfair or misleading. I think I was feeling even more tempted to read it on its own terms after his piece. Now I’m quite keen. Plus I do love the cover!
Loev to read that : Scheveningen
Scheveningen. This sounds interesting and David Colmer’s a good translator. Thanks for the opportunity.
A wonderful review. I’ve never read any of Hermans’ work, even though I’ve lived in the Netherlands since 1986. I’ve been practicing saying you know what ever since. I shall have to borrow this from the library in Dutch; another for the wishlist.
3 entries and the winner is:
Here is your set:
Set 1: 2
Timestamp: 2021-11-01 12:50:14 UTC