Author

Adriaan van Dis

Adriaan van Dis (b. 1946) was raised in the Dutch town of Bergen along with his half-sisters, the children of parents with an Indonesian background, traumatised by war. He debuted in 1983 with the novella Nathan Sid. After making a name for himself as a travel writer with books such as Het beloofde land (The Promised Land) and In Afrika (In Africa), he sealed his reputation with the award-win­ning bestseller Indische duinen (My Father’s War, 1994), a novel about the Dutch-born son of an Indonesian family who grows up in an atmosphere of repressed suffering. His later novels such as Familieziek (Family Fray, 2004), De wandelaar (The Walker, 2007) and Tikkop (Betrayal, 2010) have all sold well and received glowing reviews. His work has been translated into many languages.

My Father’s War

My Father’s War

(J.M. Meulenhoff, 1994, 315 pages)

The autobiographical nature of Adriaan van Dis’s work can be partly deduced from the fact that the surname of the main character in his debut novella, Nathan Sid, is an anagram of his own. Like his character Nathan Sid, Adriaan van Dis had a father who came from the former Dutch East Indies and lived in a house full of repatriated people in the dunes near the Dutch town of Bergen aan Zee.

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Family Fray

Family Fray

(Augustus, 2002, 208 pages)

Adriaan van Dis’s Indonesian family background has played a major role in many of his novels, including Indische duinen (My Father’s War), which has been translated into many languages. With Familieziek, he has produced a minor masterpiece that is already being hailed as a ‘classic’ in the Dutch press. As the subtitle ‘a novel in scenes’ indicates, Familieziek consists of short episodes from the life of a family repatriated from Indonesia to the Netherlands.

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The Walker

The Walker

(Augustus, 2007, 224 pages)

Mr Mulder seems to all appearances to be a upstanding gentleman, gliding through life, impeccably dressed, aloof to the hustle and bustle of the world around him. Because of a sizeable inheritance he can afford to idle away his time, and so he leaves Holland for Paris, where he leads an anonymous, solitary existence. One night he witnesses a dramatic fire in a building occupied by illegal immigrants and transients. People throw themselves out of windows in blind panic, as the crowd below looks on helplessly.

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Tik Kop

Tik Kop

(Augustus, 2010, 224 pages)

After a forty year absence, Mr Mulder – a character from Van Dis’ previous novel, an introvert full of good intentions, none of which seem appreciated – returns to the country that is part of his history: South Africa. In the early seventies, he and his friend Donald were involved in opposing the Apartheid regime. It was a time in which there was room for ideals, for romance. He fell in love with the beautiful activist Catherine, whom he never saw again after she was sent to prison.

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I Will Return

I Will Return

(Atlas Contact, 2014, 288 pages)

Adriaan van Dis has explored his family history before but never so unflinchingly as in this memoir. In the final phase of his mother’s life she is at last prepared to talk about living through three wars and the death of her first husband, beheaded in a Japanese internment camp. Adriaan van Dis pieces together her past and his own in a brave and uncompromising book.

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Translations

Website

http://www.adriaanvandis.nl/