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.