Book

Franca Treur

Now Hear My Voice

A Calvinist girl develops into an ambitious young woman, unable to let go of her past

Religion plays a large part in Franca Treur’s writing. In her new novel - narrated in alternating chapters through the life of a growing girl and the grown- up woman she has become, Treur shows us liberation from faith and the emptiness that ensues.

When as a young girl Ina loses her parents, she is taken to live with her grandfather and his two sisters in the religiously fundamentalist countryside. God watches over all that she does and says. The outside world is held at bay, and with neither radio nor television allowed, it is the village clergyman who dominates. Despite her doubts, as Ina grows up, she holds on to her faith. At the same time, we read about her later life as Gina, her studies at university and how she makes the transi­ tion to a world without faith, even becom­ ing the interviewer for a popular radio programme.

But then she unexpectedly loses in quick succession her lover and then her job. When she returns to Zeeland to look after her sick aunt, she is back in the bosom of the faith which she had aban­doned. This leads to crisis. She cannot accept the loss of her lover, even though she had never really given him a chance. His loss now awakens a passion for him that she had not previously known.

As in Treur’s previous novels, Now Hear My Voice deals with the impossible situation of people who cannot submit to the discipline of faith and unconditional surrender to God, and are left with an abyss of spiritual emptiness which is so typical of our society.

Now Hear My Voice is a classic novel about an uprooted life, a sense of sin, and a distancing from childhood and faith. The climax of this memorably and evocatively written story – when Gina’s aunt dies and the narrator gives herself over to a series of reflections on the impossibility of a divine being – lends the book a special, consoling power.

What is attractive about the novel is the lack of any sharp boundary between the strict Calvinist and the atheist life. Gina’s ambition, and her need for applause, is quite a long way from the religious devotion shown by Aunt Ma, one of the elect. Yet her aunt’s attitude is what Gina must ultimately learn: to be detached, to count neither on success nor on love. What ultimately matters is beyond the devout’s surrender to God: it is everyone’s surrender to life.

De Groene Amsterdammer

A warm mixture of compassion and nostalgia. Her style in particular deserves admiration, especially in her way of having different characters talk realistically. Her sentences are invariably worth not just reading but mulling over. […] A homage to a lost faith, a lost childhood.

PZC

Franca Treur

Franca Treur (b. 1979) studied Dutch and literary theory at the University of Leiden. The publication of her debut novel Confetti on the Threshing Floor (2009) brought her unprecedented success: it sold more than 150,000 copies and won the Jan Bruijns prize and the Selexyz prize for best debut. The…

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Details

Hoor nu mijn stem (2017). Fiction, 320 pages.
Words: 45,247
Copies sold: 20,000

Publisher

Prometheus

Herengracht 540
NL - 1017 CG Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 624 19 34
Fax: +31 20 622 54 61

E-mail:
r.palache@pbo.nl
Website:
http://www.uitgeverijpromethe…

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