Author

Jeroen Brouwers

Jeroen Brouwers (b. 1940) grew up in Indonesia, worked as an editor at Manteau publishers in Brussels for twelve years and subsequently settled in the Netherlands.

His debut, the story collection Het mes op de keel (The Knife to the Throat, 1964), and the novel Joris Ockeloen en het wachten (Joris Ockeloen and the Waiting, 1967) went scarcely noticed in the Dutch literary world. That ended in 1973 with the publication of the novella Zonder trommels en trompetten (Without Fanfare) in which Brouwers weaves his thematic web on death, love, loss and the past that is to inform his later work, such as the novel Zonsopgangen boven zee (Sunrises at Sea, 1977), which was a great critical success.

Autobiographical

Brouwers’s work has strong autobiographical elements, such as in the sketches Groetjes uit Brussel (Greetings from Brussels, 1969), in the polemical novel Het verzonkene (The Submerged, 1979, awarded with the Multatuli Prize) and in Bezonken rood (Sunken Red, 1981). He has written caustic and witty polemic tracts against literary currents or authors whose integrity he calls into question. De laatste deur (The Final Door, 1983), essays on suicides in Dutch-language literature, was reprinted three times within a year. Alongside his other essay and letter collections of 1976-1986, entitled Kroniek van een karakter I & II (Chronicle of a Character I & II, 1986-87), the novels Winterlicht (Winter Light, 1984), De Zondvloed (The Deluge, 1988, awarded with the F. Bordewijk Prize) and Zomervlucht (Summer Flight, 1990) appeared. In the decade to follow he published a number of essay collections and his own literary journal, Feuilletons.

His novel Geheime kamers (Secret Rooms, 2000) was unexpected but became a resounding success. It met with unanimous praise and won the Flemish Golden Owl Award, the AKO Literature Prize 2001 and the Multatuli Prize. In 2007 Brouwers was awarded the prestigious three-yearly Dutch Literature Prize (Prijs der Nederlandse Letteren) for his entire oeuvre.

Sunken Red

Sunken Red

(Atlas, 1981, 129 pages)

An adult male examines his relationship with his mother shortly after she has died in an old people’s home. He has had no contact with her for a number of years. He goes back in his mind to the Japanese POW camp where he, his mother, little sister and grandmother were all interned.

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Summer Flight

Summer Flight

(Atlas, 1990, 312 pages)

In Zomervlucht the fifty year old musician, Reinier Saltsman, accepts a colleague’s invitation to attend a congress in June in New York. He used to be a talented pianist of international renown. Now he is living a withdrawn life in a rural area with his slightly younger second wife, Karin. Nothing much is happening in his life and the music seems to have sang its swan song with the last talented student he tutors. He ponders his childhood a great deal. His parents were both drowned in a shipwreck and he had never known them, being raised by his grandfather.

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Secret Rooms

Secret Rooms

(Atlas, 2000, 488 pages)

During the 1990s, Jeroen Brouwers published no new works of fiction. In his masterpiece, the voluminous De zondvloed (The Deluge; 1988), the author demonstrated his mastery in devising staggering literary constructions. ‘I had become a slave to my own literary ideology,’ Brouwers explained in a recent interview. ‘Everything had to be constructed, ornate, stratified, every detail had to have some sort of function.’

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Numberless Days

Numberless Days

(Atlas, 2007, 190 pages)

Datumloze dagen (Numberless Days), Jeroen Brouwers’ latest novel, incorporates a thunderous symphony of death. In his rich oeuvre this virtuoso author has consistently given voice to melancholy. Death plays a central role in all his novels, as well as in many of his essays.

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The Wood

The Wood

(Atlas Contact, 2014, 290 pages)

Jeroen Brouwers explores one of the darkest chapters in our recent history: the sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church. The latest novel by this long-established literary figure has won over critics and readers alike with its harrowing directness, attracting five-star reviews and spending months in the top ten.

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Translations

Website

http://www.jeroenbrouwers.be