Carl Friedman

The Shovel and the Loom

With remarkable economy and the acuity of a Salinger, Carl Friedman creates a fictional world so insistently present that it stays with the reader, like the all-encompassing worlds of lengthy novels by the nineteenth-century realists. Her subjectmatter is the sufferings of the Shoah, which has left its stamp on her characters’ lives long after the Second World War is over. Friedman has a simple yet refined ability to blend the everyday lives of ordinary people with the great themes of the twentieth century.

Twenty-year-old Chaja, the talented central character of The Shovel and the Loom, is a philosophy student in Antwerp in the upbeat 1960s. She immerses herself in philosophy but feels increasingly fascinated by the horrific story of Antwerp’s Jews, particularly her parents, who both survived Auschwitz. Her exploration of the fate of the Jews, of the disastrous course of history, ultimately leads her to distance herself from philosophy. This is an intelligent literary exploration of the degree to which we are connected to our parents’ pasts and how history shapes our lives.

Austere, meticulous and without histrionics… a successful novel.

NRC Handelsblad

Friedman’s story is couched in language that is crystal clear and unadorned.

Eindhovens Dagblad

Written with unhesitating accuracy, with an intensely intuitive feel for the relationship between great and small.

Vrij Nederland


Carl Friedman

Carl Friedman (1952-2020) worked as a newspaper journalist. She made her debut in 1991 with the novella Tralievader (Nightfather), which was hailed as a small masterpiece by readers and critics in the Netherlands, Germany and the United States. Next came the novel Twee koffers vol (Two Bagfuls…

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Twee koffers vol (1993). Fiction, 468 pages.
Words: 28,000
Copies sold: 69,500


G.A. van Oorschot

Herengracht 613
NL - 1017 CE Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 623 14 84
Fax: +31 20 625 40 83


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