Alfred Birney

Alfred Birney (1951) is the author of an oeuvre of largely autobiographical fiction and non-fiction, in which his family’s history often plays a central role. He made his debut in 1987 with the novel Tamara’s Lunapark. He edited a voluminous anthology of literary fiction from the Dutch East Indies in 1998, and two of his most important novels, Vogels rond een vrouw (Birds Around A Woman, 1991) and De onschuld van een vis (The Innocence of a Fish, 1995) were translated and published in Indonesia. For his most recent novel, considered to be his magnum opus, he was awarded the Libris Literature Prize and the Henriëtte Roland Holst Prize.

De tolk van Java

De tolk van Java

(De Geus, 2016, 542 pagina's)

From the first sentence, which barrels ahead at a feverish pace for more than one page, this novel grabs the reader by the throat. A son compresses his father’s life in the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia) into one furious eruption — everything from the atrocities of the Japanese occupation, and the war of independence that followed, to his father’s violent and unpredictable treatment of his children in his new homeland, The Netherlands.

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