Author

Anton Valens

Anton Valens (b. 1964) trained as a painter at the Rietveld Academy and the Rijksacademie. As a student he worked in home care services in Amsterdam, garnering experiences he later used in his debut novel Master in Hygiene (2004), about a young man who cleans houses for the elderly and infirm. The book won a number of literary prizes, went through several reprints and appeared in French translation. In 2008 Valens published both the story collection Mop War, in which he again draws upon his experiences in home care, and the travel story I Wanted to Go to the Edge of Beijing. The following year Valens made an indelible impression with his novella Fish, a tough, masculine tale written in a crystal-clear prose about an artist who has a rather unambitious attitude to life. When he joins a group of fishermen he is made to face up to his miserable position on the social ladder.

Fish

Fish

(Augustus, 2009, 138 pages)

Anton Valens’ characters invariably attempt to make an unknown world their own. In his widely praised debut Meesters in de hygiëne (‘Master in Hygiene’, 2004) the central character is an art student who works as cleaner for lonely elderly people and becomes caught up in their life stories. In the novella Vis (‘Fish’) we meet an unemployed artist who having signed up with a fishing boat that trawls the bottom of the Wadden Sea for plaice, dab and sole soon has to revise any romantic notion he had about fishing.

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Man & Post

Man & Post

(Augustus, 2012, 320 pages)

This is an unforgettable story whose author sustains a precarious balance between cheerful nonsense and high seriousness. The setting is Groningen, a city in the far north of the Netherlands, a buzzing centre of life amid endless flat meadows. The 500-year-old Martini Tower serves as an urban landmark and the people are sober, their dour character proverbial. Groningen, where Valens lived for many years, is conceived as a form of isolation, of being cut off.

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