Circle in the Grass
Oek de Jong’s prime preoccupation, the desire for a harmonious life – whether or not through art – is repeated in this novel set in Italy in the late seventies, gripped by the horror of the kidnap and murder of the politician Aldo Moro. One of its ideas is that whoever strives for a Buddhist approach to life must recognize that good and evil are two sides of the same coin: the Red Brigade on the one side and their capitalist victim on the other.
This idea is echoed in the book’s love story in which the author attempts to resolve the contradictions of independence versus surrender and head versus heart. Andrea Simonetti, an Italian art historian and poet, sees his love affair with Dutch journalist Hanna Piccard floundering.
The point of view is divided among four characters, and only the author seems finally to triumph. A serious novel of ideas.