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Stefan van Dierendonck

And It’s Raining Bread

Een fatale botsing met het geloof in een indrukwekkende debuutroman

Stefan van Dierendonck has written a debut novel with an improbable story actually based on the true fact of a young priest with an allergy to the Eucharist. The church, right up to the Vatican, refuses to adapt the hosts for the main character. The writer has used own experiences to compose an unusual and intelligent story, which unsettles and raises important questions.

The novel has a classical story-within-a-story structure. An elderly father has a meeting with the monastery’s abbot one morning. The abbot gives him a box left behind by Clemens Driessen, an apprentice priest who died young in unclear circumstances. He returns to his monastery cell to commit young Clemens’s life to paper.

Van Dierendonck skillfully builds up the tension and tells how this small boy was impressed by the grandeur of a cathedral his father took him to. When his father mentions in passing that Jesus lodges in your heart when you eat the hostand remains there until you commit your first sin, his life becomes an exhausting battle to remain pure.

He avoids his peers and keeps his piety secret – he plays Marian hymns on his Walkman and carries a rosary in his pocket. He walks away from the only girl he falls in love with because of his calling. Clemens is clearly planning on hanging onto Jesus for as long as he can. Then fate strikes and his father dies when they are out jogging together.

He enrols in a seminary but things go wrong there too. Clemens is assaulted by a fellow student and his supervisors fail to react. He feels estranged from the churchgoers who scarcely believe in anything anymore but are happy to receive the host he gives them. He must preach things without agreeing with them. He feels like an actor.

And to make matters worse, he turns out to have a gluten intolerance: ‘Imagine this: I’m ill. The holy bread has made me ill. God has made me ill.’ After long insistence, the church comes up with an apparent solution: gluten-free hosts. They still make him ill, but it is a cross he has to bear.

In the end, Clemens opts to take his own life, but even in his darkest hour, he continues to consider others. And It’s Raining Bread is a book which questions the role we give religion in our lives and shows how adhering to rules can lead to us losing, rather than finding ourselves.

Stefan van Dierendonck really impressed me with this harrowing, autobiographical book. The disconcerting story of this young, passionate former priest is surprisingly well-written and makes clear that a shining future awaits him outside the Catholic church.

Jan Siebelink, author of In My Father’s Garden

An affecting story. Wellwritten, well-composed, it touches the reader.

Leestafel

A beautiful, semi-autobiographical debut. Subtle and convincing.

Trouw

Van Dierendonck’s style is vitriolic, precise and funny, his debut as a novelist is a real pleasure to read.

Vrij Nederland

Stefan van Dierendonck

Stefan van Dierendonck (b. 1972) served as an altar boy from age eight in a church in Brabant and later attended the seminary in Den Bosch. He has now left the priesthood to become a writer. His debut novel was warmly received and reprinted several times after the novel’s controversial subject…

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Details

En het regende brood (2012). Fiction, 249 pages.
Words: 60,000

Sample translation available

Themes: debut

Publisher

Thomas Rap

Van Miereveldstraat 1
1071 DW Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 305 98 10
Fax: +31 20 305 98 24

E-mail:
info@thomasrap.nl
Website:
http://www.thomasrap.nl

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