Author

Jan Brokken

Jan Brokken (b. 1949) has, in a literary career spanning thirty years, written books about a number of exotic and far-off places, including West Africa, the Dutch Caribbean, Indonesia and China, winning acclaim for his adventurous attitude and sensitive style. He gained international fame with The Rainbird, The Blind Passengers, My Little Madness, Baltic Souls, In the House of the Poet, The Reprisal and The Cossack Garden. He is renowned as a masterful storyteller. The New York Times praised his book Jungle Rudy (trs. Sam Garrett) on Rudy Truffino, who mapped the Venezuelan jungle, as ‘a masterpiece of narrative non-fiction’.

Jungle Rudy

Jungle Rudy

(Atlas, 1999, 269 pages)

Jungle Rudy is Jan Brokken’s tribute to the legendary adventurer and pioneer Rudy Truffino, who spent the greater part of his life mapping, discovering and opening up the jungle in the south-east of Venezuela, once rightly called ‘The Lost World’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The book starts off with a brief sketch of Truffino’s life in the 1960s before he ended up in Venezuela, including a succesful attempt at escaping from a fire squad in the Domenican Republic. None of the events however could prepare him for the life that lay waiting.

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In the House of the Poet

In the House of the Poet

(Atlas, 2008, 378 pages)

Russian concert pianist Youri Egorov (1954-88) was a cult hero. Jan Brokken got to know Egorov in the 1970s when he travelled with him for a magazine article that he was to write to a performance in England. Egorov’s playing was out of this world but he was agitated by the orchestra’s indifference: ‘Not one spark of enthusiasm, I can’t stand that.’

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Baltic Souls

Baltic Souls

Changing fortunes in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

(Atlas Contact, 2010, 463 pages)

During a boat trip on the Baltic, Jan Brokken chanced upon Pärnu harbour, on the Estonian coast of the Gulf of Riga. It was an unforgettable introduction to the Baltic lands: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. The extraordinary light, the tranquil landscape and the stories he heard there drew him back time and again. In Baltic Souls, Brokken connects the cultural richness and social diversity of the region over the past eight centuries with tales of personal tragedy and a first-hand account of his travels.

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The Reprisal

The Reprisal

A village in wartime

(Atlas Contact, 2013, 383 pages)

The Reprisal is an unforgettable examina­tion in microcosm of the Second World War and everything connected with it: murder and arson, poverty and betrayal, heroic courage and illusions of happiness. Continually deliberating and investigat­ing, Brokken takes us with him into the underworld of a small Dutch village during the German occupation, ultimately raising more questions than he answers.

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The Cossack Garden

The Cossack Garden

(Atlas Contact, 2015, 320 pages)

St Petersburg, 21 December 1849, and a man in his late twenties in a white shirt stands in front of a firing squad in the cold. He kisses the silver crucifix held to his lips by a priest, in the sure knowledge that he is about to die. Just before the command ‘Fire!’ is given, a pardon arrives from the Czar. The white-shirted man is the writer Fyodor Mikhaelovich Dostoyevsky. Alexander von Wrangel, a student, eleven years younger, is a witness.

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The Just

The Just

How a Dutch consul saved thousands of Jews

(Atlas Contact, 2018, 450 pages)

At the beginning of the Second World War, the Dutch consul in Lithuania found a way to save the lives of thousands of Jewish people who had fled Poland, by giving them visas for the Dutch island of Curaçao in the Caribbean. Visas in hand, the refugees were able to take the Trans-Siberian railway to Japan and then disperse to all four corners of the globe. The vast majority of them survived the war.

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Translations

Website

http://www.janbrokken.nl