Author

Arnon Grunberg

Arnon Grunberg (b. 1971) debuted at the age of 23 with the novel Blauwe maandagen (Blue Mondays, 1994), which describes the world of prostitution with wry humour and was an instant success. His next two novels, Figuranten (Silent Extras, 1997) and Fantoompijn (Phantom Pain, 2000), strengthened both the readers’ and the critics’ conviction that he is a great writer. Some of his other titles are De asielzoeker (The Asylum Seeker, 2003) and De joodse messias (The Jewish Messiah, 2004). Grunberg also writes plays, essays and travel columns. His work has won him several literary awards, among which the AKO Literature Prize for Fantoompijn and De asielzoeker, and both the Libris Literature Prize and the Flemish Golden Owl Award for Tirza (2006). Under the pseudonym Marek van der Jagt he published the successful novels De geschiedenis van mijn kaalheid (The Story of my Baldness, 2000) and Gstaad 95-98 (2002), as well as the essay Monogaam (Monogamous, 2004). Arnon Grunberg lives and works in New York.

Blue Mondays

Blue Mondays

(Nijgh & Van Ditmar, 1994, 271 pages)

Absurd, unashamed and amusing’ well describes the life story of the character Arnon Grunberg, drawn up by the author of the same name. Little by little, the latter reveals what the former is like – a refined method that shows the writer to be considerably less harebrained than the Grunberg on paper, a small, Jewish, good-for-nothing guy with a grossly pale face, big nose, curly hair, glasses and pimples, who gives off an odor that begs for a pail of water and a big bar of soap.

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Silent Extras

Silent Extras

(Nijgh & Van Ditmar, 1997, 300 pages)

Whereas Grunberg described the world of paid love and escort services in his first novel, Blauwe maandagen, here he describes the film world. The protagonist Ewald Stanislas Krieg and his two friends, the eccentric Broccoli and the inaccessible Elvira, have ‘heard the call of Hollywood’ and make futile efforts to become rich and famous. What follows is a hilarious but humiliating journey through casting agencies, alternative youth theatre and the odd supporting role: ‘In the script they called the part I had to play Pimply Kid.’

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Phantom Pain

Phantom Pain

(Nijgh & Van Ditmar, 2000, 256 pages)

‘If the laws of economics apply to anything, then it’s to emotions,’ is one of Robert Mehlman’s many one-liners. Mehlman, the central character in Phantom Pain, is tormented by writer’s block, his only successful publication being a cookery book called The Polish-Jewish Kitchen in 69 Recipes, which he wrote purely for money. He briefly became world famous when his book was interpreted as a positive take on coming to terms with the Holocaust – only Arnon Grunberg, or perhaps Woody Allen, could come up with a joke like that.

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The Asylum Seeker

The Asylum Seeker

(Nijgh & Van Ditmar, 2003, 352 pages)

Arnun Grunberg’s mad literary universe has become increasingly grim over the last few years. Whereas in the early novels tragedy chafed under humour, this now seems to be reversed. After Gstaad 95-98 (published under the pseudonym Marek van der Jagt), in which, to your horror, you have to admit that you feel sympathy for a totally loony, anally fixated child murderer, The Asylum Seeker again exerts the same kind of ‘guilty’ effect on the reader for his disgust and compassion.

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The Jewish Messiah

The Jewish Messiah

(Rothschild & Bach, 2004, 495 pages)

‘Because his grandfather had served the SS with genuine enthusiasm and an abiding belief in progress, the grandson also wanted to serve a movement with enthusiasm and belief in progress.’ This is the kick-off to a slapstick story with a grim twist. The movement that 16-year old Xavier Radek decides to serve is Zionism. More specifically, his goal is to console the Jews.

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Monkey Grabbing Hold of Happiness

Monkey Grabbing Hold of Happiness

(Nijgh & Van Ditmar, 2004, 87 pages)

The protagonist of the short novel Monkey Grabbing Hold of Happiness, Jean-Baptist Warnke, number two at the Dutch Embassy in Peru, is no exception. In his work as a diplomat Warnke calmly bobs with the tide. Instead of consular assistance, compatriots who find themselves in Peruvian prisons receive a fruit hamper and a couple of Edam cheeses: ‘If you examine it closely, freedom is largely a matter of a proper diet.’

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Tirza

Tirza

(Nijgh & Van Ditmar, 2006, 432 pages)

It is nothing short of remarkable how Arnon Grunberg continually reinvents himself. Each new book is strikingly different from the last, but at the same time they are all unmistakably Grunberg with his unforgiving eye for human frailties and compelling, wryly ironic style. At first glance, the bizarre, sadistic universe that informed Grunberg’s earlier works seems to be absent from Tirza.

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Every Scrap

Every Scrap

(Nijgh & Van Ditmar, 2010, 512 pages)

Economist Roland Oberstein is one of the forty most renowned authorities on Adam Smith in the world. He is also the co-author of a collection of essays entitled Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Genocide – of interest to him because of his Jewish background. The same is true for economics: his mother, survivor of several camps, was a rather cold and miserly woman. Roland hopes to establish his reputation as an economist once and for all with a standard work on bubbles. To him, economics is a game based on cheating. People want to be cheated as much as they themselves cheat others. Roland is utterly convinced this principle applies to all human interaction – including love, which, he…

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From Istanbul to Baghdad

From Istanbul to Baghdad

(Podium, 2010, 124 pages)

In 2010 author Arnon Grunberg travelled by car through the Middle East and wrote a series of articles for NRC. On the basis of these reports, photographs and Grunberg’s blog pieces, Kolk created the graphic novel Van Istanbul naar Bagdad, a road movie in pen and paper.

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The Man without Illness

The Man without Illness

(Nijgh & Van Ditmar, 2012, 222 pages)

An architect, as idealistic as he is naive, is the central character of the eleventh novel by Arnon Grunberg, the most talented young writer of the Nether­lands. In The Man without Illness an arrogant Westerner is destroyed amid the harshness and random cruelties of a chaotic Middle East.

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Birthmarks

Birthmarks

(Lebowski, 2016, 399 pages)

Hannelore Grünberg-Klein, mother of Arnon Grunberg, died on 10th February 2015. She was eighty-seven and a survivor of Auschwitz. Anyone who has followed Grunberg’s career will be conscious of what a blow that must have been. Their relationship was symbiotic. When she died Grunberg wrote, ‘Now I’ll have to live on as my mother.’

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Translations

Website

http://www.arnongrunberg.com