Robert Anker

Hajar and Daan

Contemporary West Side Story

Hajar and Daan, a contemporary version of West Side Story written by Robert Anker, opens with ‘The first time Daan Hollander, a history teacher at DataCare Secondary School in Amsterdam, fucked Hajar Nait Sibaha, a junior honors student, she kept her headscarf on – at his request.’ The drama is introduced with such immediacy: forbidden love if ever there was one. Teacher / student, white / black, non- religious / Muslim, and it’s as if the fucking is about the annexation of a piece of land.

The DataCare College in Amsterdam owes its idiotic name to the generous gift from the chief sponsor Jimmy Pretzel, who, apart from being a long-time friend of Daan’s, has made it in the world of IT. Daan seems spineless and weak from the outset, indulging in a joint between classes. But his passion for Hajar turns out to be much deeper than even he expected. As the story unfolds, Daan shakes off his ambivalent attitude and does everything in his power to win Hajar’s love.

Anker takes a tongue-in-cheek look at a contemporary subject. In part, he writes a psycho-realist novel about a teacher who gets caught up in the web of an unattainable love for a seventeen-year old Moroccan student, and this story provides him with the opportunity to look ironically at the world of teaching as well as the artists’ scene of Daan’s old friends. At the same time, as is obvious from the classic opening sentence, Anker is playing a postmodernist game with an all-knowing narrator observing Daan and his good intentions.

In Hajar and Daan, Anker has written an engaging love story and a blunt portrait of our times.

A sizzling, almost salacious book.

De Volkskrant

This man can write (…) Robert Anker has managed in this grand novel to broach the subject that has politics in the Netherlands completely confused and reduce it to a doomed love story between a Dutch man and a Moroccan girl.

Algemeen Dagblad

A stylistically cunning work. Anker writes rhythmical prose, mixes long, meandering sentences with short ones, all the while switching energetically between the present and the future.


Robert Anker

Robert Anker (1946-2017) was a writer of poetry, novels and criticism. He debuted in 1977 as a poet in the literary magazine De Revisor. For his prose debut, the novel De thuiskomst van kapitein Rob (Captain Rob’s Homecoming, 1992), he was awarded the F. Bordewijk Prize, while his collected…

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Hajar en Daan (2004). Fiction, 288 pages.

Themes: love migration

Sample translation

English (PDF document)



Weteringschans 259
NL - 1017 XJ Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 760 72 10

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