An enchanting rollercoaster of stories and plots down to the last page
In her first novel Niña Weijers shows what she is capable of: a portrayal of the fashionable world of modern art, a coming-of-age story about a talented girl capable of many things but unsure of everything, and a tense story about disappearing. One of the most striking débuts of recent years.
Minnie Panis is a young artist with the world at her feet since showing a strange mix of all her possessions – her sofa, her curtains, a toothbrush, rubbish – in the exhibition Nothing Personal. The critics judged this as ‘an extremely intimate and raw self-portrait of a woman in search of the consequences of her disappointed love’.
That already indicates the extent to which the view of the outside world – full of well-meaning clichés – can differ from that of the artist. Is life art or coincidence? And how can people talk about their lives as if they are stories? Minnie cannot; she was only trying to show that she existed. Somewhere something has gone wrong, somewhere in her early childhood. A premature baby who did not make any sounds, her mother took her to an American therapist with New Age ideas.
Her relationship with her mother is not warm, more awkward. Her father disappeared before she was even born. It gives Minnie’s figure a rather lonely feeling. Then comes the point at which history seems to repeat itself: Minnie herself becomes pregnant by a man who probably will not be involved in the child’s upbringing.
The second part of this intelligent, tense novel things accelerate rapidly. A Taoist statement (‘All the fish has to do is lose itself in the water’) keeps recurring; it is also the motto on the headed notepaper of the therapist who contacts her again to see whether his treatment of decades earlier was successful. The portrayal of the art world turns into a strange, psychological, paranormal case study.