Marjolijn Hof

Against the Odds

A remarkably strong and original debut, already filmed and published in many languages

Kiek’s father is a doctor with an aid agency and during his last trip to a war zone he disappeared. There’s nothing to be done but wait and hope he’ll be found. Kiek fears her father will die, but her mother says it won’t come to that. After all, how many children does Kiek know with dead fathers? Exactly: just one. The chances of having a dead father must be fairly small.

On hearing this, Kiek develops her own form of probability calculus to control her anxiety. It occurs to her that a dead dog plus a dead mouse plus a dead father is even more unlikely than a dead father alone. Kiek wants to be a little girl with a dead dog and a dead mouse, to improve the odds.

Marjolijn Hof develops this brilliant idea in hilarious scenes, without ever laughing at Kiek’s deeper fear. Her language is polished but lively, her dialogues direct and disarming, her observations always spot on.

Against the Odds has received many prizes in the Netherlands and beyond, with translations appearing in Catalan, English, French, German, Icelandic, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Slovene and Turkish. The film version, Taking Chances, was selected for the Berlin Film Festival and won awards in the Netherlands, Sweden and India.

A wonderful portrait of a little girl trying to ward off her fears about her father who’s in a war zone.

De Morgen

A moving, recognizable story that’s both tragic and easy to digest.

De Standaard


Marjolijn Hof

Internationally, Marjolijn Hof (b. 1956) is one of Holland’s most successful contemporary children’s authors. Her children’s books have been translated into Turkish, Slovenian, English, Catalan, Polish, Norwegian, French, German and Icelandic. Een kleine kans (trans­lated into English as…

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Een kleine kans (2006). Children's books.
Words: 16,722
Copies sold: 25,000

Themes: debut

Sample translation

English (PDF document)


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