Wanda Reisel


An exciting road novel about a man with no moral compass

Wanda Reisel tells the story of a young man who, after witnessing an attack on the war monument in Amsterdam’s Dam Square, hears a voice telling him: ‘You have to change your life. Don’t look back.’ But is that really possible when you’re trying to flee? The faster you run from the past, the harder it is to escape your memories.

Adam has abandoned his wife and son, and on top of that, he blames himself for the car accident that killed his mother. He works as a bookkeeper for charitable organizations, and one day he decides to do something that will show everyone exactly what kind of person he is: he funnels millions of dollars’ worth of donations into secret bank accounts in Switzerland and the Far East and takes off.

Wanda Reisel manages to maintain the story’s breakneck speed all the way to the very end. The reader travels along with the protagonist and desperately wants to protect him from pitfalls, warn him, slow him down and hurry him along.

Adam is constantly looking over his shoulder – is Interpol onto him yet? But already on the first train, he meets a German photographer documenting the refugee crisis and immediately falls for her. Her name, Lili, is reminiscent of Lilith, the sexual seductress and Adam’s first wife before God created Eve.

Reisel masterfully plays with Adam’s masculinity and Lili’s femininity, creating a convincing psychological portrait of a man rushing from Zurich to Shanghai via the old Silk Road, along old Jewish trade routes and across lands settled by his ancestors. Meanwhile, Europe is being hit by a series of attacks, each one directed at a famous phallic symbol: the Fernsehturm in Berlin, the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

When Adam gets stranded in Norway, he finally finds the peace to look back on his life, his past marriage and his family’s history in the Jewish diaspora. As the suspense surrounding the stolen money and Lili’s machinations begins to unravel, a new woman enters into his life. This one may not be exciting or beautiful, but she helps Adam discover his destination and provides him with a kind of moral compass. Reisel’s ambitious novel weaves together numerous themes: our thirst for self-knowledge, recognition and love. Powerful and inescapable, Adam is the life story of a modern-day European.

A beautiful, mythical image of a man’s inner world […] the writer engrosses us in her discerning, almost casual descriptive art.

De Groene Amsterdammer

A rich, exemplary novel, thematically strong and colourfully elaborated. Wanda Reisel has a special gift for depicting the human condition and the human fate. Her work is full of nuance, feeling for paradoxes and contradictions, and, above all, sharp formulations.


Wanda Reisel

Wanda Reisel (b. 1955) studied dramaturgy and made her literary debut in 1986 with Jacobi’s tocht (Jacob’s Journey)followed two years later by the novel Het blauwe uur (The Blue Hour). Deception and self-deception are recurring themes in her novels, stories and plays. Baby Storm (1996) and Een

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Adam (2019). Fiction, 360 pages.
Words: 86,000


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