Author

Benny Lindelauf

Benny Lindelauf (b. 1964) made his debut as a children’s writer in 1998. He has grown to become one of the most original voices in the Dutch-speaking countries. With his award-winning books Negen open armen (published in English as ‘Nine Open Arms’, 2004) and its companion, Fing’s War (2010), he wrote his way into a lofty position in the pantheon of children’s literature. Tortot (2016) revealed a new side of Lindelauf’s talent: not psychological YA prose, but magic realism, a path he continues along in Whole Stories for a Half Soldier (2020).

Nine Open Arms

Nine Open Arms

(Querido Kind, 2004, 250 pages)

It is the end of August 1937, nine people – father, grandmother, four sons and three daughters – leave for what seems to be the end of the world: Sjlammbams Sahara, a place outside the safe walls of the city. Father is a man who does all kinds of odd jobs and none of them well but he is hopeful and full of love. Grandmother courageously carries her bag made from crocodile leather full of pictures and stories.

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Fing’s war

Fing’s war

(Querido, 2010, 320 pages)

Just outside a village in Limburg stands a house with the name of Nine Open Arms, so called because if its nine residents open their arms wide, they can hug all the way around it. Fing lives there in the late 1930s with her four brothers, two sisters, their dad and Grandma Mei. It’s an almost fairytale place that is brimming with stories. And often it’s not entirely clear whether these stories come from the imagination of Grandma Mei and the children or whether they really happened.

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How Tortot Lost His Fish’s Heart

How Tortot Lost His Fish’s Heart

(Querido, 2016, 240 pages)

This is a book that deserves a large international audience for its subject matter alone. With a great deal of humour, Benny Lindelauf describes a pointless war of the kind that could have taken place not all that long ago, not all that far away. Are we reading about the American civil war? Or are these scuffles and skirmishes Napoleonic? For the soldiers, it does not really matter: at the appointed time, they meet up to fight, and sometimes one army loses, sometimes the other.

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Whole Stories for a Half Soldier

Whole Stories for a Half Soldier

(Querido Kind, 2020, 388 pages)

Six brothers are called up to go to war. They pass a border guard who demands a donation for the peace effort from each of the brothers. The brothers own nothing, but they do have stories to tell. This is a constant in Lindelauf’s work: in his award-winning masterpiece De hemel van Heivisj (published in English as Fing’s War), it’s also stories that save the characters when nothing else remains.

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