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Arie Storm

Listening to Houses Breathe

An exhilarating mix of media satire and autobiographical fiction in the tradition of Philip Roth

‘The past, what was all that about?’ Welcome to Arie Storm’s seventh novel. In Listening to Houses Breathe, Storm’s alter ego, August Voois, is plunged into a deep crisis and comes face to face with a distant past with which he has yet to make peace.

Like his creator, August Voois is a writer, an academic and a book reviewer for a newspaper and a radio show. Yet he increasingly finds himself questioning the meaning of virtually everything he does. In his eyes the world is falling prey to stupid­ity and infantilism, while the serious appreciation of literature has become the domain of a paltry few. And as if that were not enough, his state of mind is being rattled by strange sighs that seem to be emanating from the walls of his home.

One day our cynical protagonist decides he can take no more and bids farewell to his jobs at the university and the radio station. A raging storm hits the city and rips a gaping hole in the fabric of his home, through which he, his wife Alice and his daughter Masja are able to travel back in time. They become onlookers in Voois’ past as a greengrocer’s son in a rough neighbourhood of The Hague. As he revisits the houses of his youth – his parental home and the homes of neighbours with whom he spent much of his time – long-suppressed traumas rise up from the depths.

While Storm’s novel contains subtle references to Alice in Wonderland, it is far from a series of absurd adventures. Listening to Houses Breathe begins as a cynical yet upbeat satire on the literary world, but goes on to develop into a thoughtful reflection on the workings of nostalgia and the pain hidden away behind some of our childhood memories. When the time comes for the reader to emerge from the wormhole with Voois, he cannot help but feel an abiding fondness for the man.

A slim yet splendid novel about an author who is wrestling with his past and about the importance of literature.

de Volkskrant

He gives an almost mystical charge to the everyday [in] one of the most extraordinary novels published in the Netherlands this year.

De Groene Amsterdammer

A book that is constantly on the move.

NRC Handelsblad

Arie Storm

Literary critic, translator and biographer Arie Storm (b. 1963) grew up in The Hague, studied Dutch and made his literary debut at the age of 31 with HŽémans duik (HŽémans Dive), a novel that playfully manipulates the relationship between autobiography and fiction. In the six novels that…

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Details

Luisteren hoe huizen ademen (2013). Fiction, 159 pages.
Words: 32,500

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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