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Helga Ruebsamen

Helga Ruebsamen was born in Batavia (present-day Djakarta) in 1934, when Indonesia was still called the Dutch East Indies. When she was six, her family moved to The Hague. Between 1964 and 1971, Ruebsamen published four books, after which no writing appeared from her hand for eighteen years. Then, in 1988, she published Op Scheveningen (At Scheveningen), a collection of short stories as striking as they were nostalgic. Het lied en de waarheid (The Song and the Truth), however, marks a turning-point in her career: it is her most ambitious book yet, a work she has referred to in interviews as the (fictionalized) account of her youth. Het lied en de waarheid, published in summer 1997, has received undivided critical acclaim and become a bestseller.

De dansende kater

De dansende kater

(Querido, 1992, 168 pagina's)

‘What I just experienced must have been a hallucination. But what isn’t?’ mumbles Otto in the story ‘Model’. He’s a clerk who carries out meaningless work in the national archives in The Hague during the daytime but quenches his thirst in the evenings with alcohol and the poetic thoughts it gives him. The question as to what’s reality and what’s invention is brushed aside in several places in the book as an irrelevancy. What’s important is a good story and – to that end – those who turn their eyes and ears in nonstandard directions can find the necessary dark desires bubbling up in boring clerks, withered women of easy virtue and apparently good and upright wives and…

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Het lied en de waarheid

Het lied en de waarheid

(Contact, 1997, 396 pagina's)

Throughout her writing career Helga Ruebsamen has been something of a writer‘s writer. Not because her short story collections are accessible only to connoisseurs of fine prose: on the contrary, the critics have always praised the clarity of her style. No, the relatively limited extent of her readership has always been an injustice. Her new novel, Het lied en de waarheid, has finally set things right. This big novel, in which Ruebsamen subtly presents her childhood memories of a country house in the Dutch East Indies and the horrors of the Second World War, is nothing short of sensational.

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