Inimitably written family drama
In Bonita Avenue Peter Buwalda tells the story of the downfall of a brilliant professor and politician, who crosses swords with his criminal son, his stepdaughter and her boyfriend. The novel reads like a thriller, but its 500 pages of virtuoso and crystal-clear writing are also a portrait of an era, a kaleidoscopic work about a clash between generations.
Siem Sigerius is a university chancellor with a love of jazz and the good things in life. Few know about the murder conviction of his son from an earlier marriage. He treats his stepdaughters as his own and Aaron, boyfriend to stepdaughter Joni, as a lost son. A huge explosion at a fireworks factory in their home town of Enschede in May 2000 coincides with the fragmentation of the family, as the son’s release from jail sets off a fateful chain of events.
Shortly before Sigerius is appointed Minister of Education he recognizes Joni on one of the pornographic websites he visits. Aaron is the photographer and the site provides the couple with a generous secret income. Sigerius’ son seizes upon this as an opportunity to blackmail him.
Buwalda succeeds in crafting his story down to the minutest detail, with countless beautiful phrases and original analogies. Rarely does a writer make his debut with such a multilayered and ambitious novel, and reviewers have emphasized repeatedly that we can expect a great deal from him in years to come.