Peter Buwalda

Bonita Avenue

Inimitably written family drama

In Bonita Avenue Peter Buwalda tells the story of the downfall of a brilliant professor and politician, who crosses swords with his criminal son, his stepdaughter and her boyfriend. The novel reads like a thriller, but its 500 pages of virtuoso and crystal-clear writing are also a portrait of an era, a kaleido­scopic work about a clash between generations.

Siem Sigerius is a university chancellor with a love of jazz and the good things in life. Few know about the murder conviction of his son from an earlier marriage. He treats his stepdaughters as his own and Aaron, boyfriend to stepdaughter Joni, as a lost son. A huge explosion at a fireworks factory in their home town of Enschede in May 2000 coincides with the fragmentation of the family, as the son’s release from jail sets off a fateful chain of events.

Shortly before Sigerius is appointed Minister of Education he recognizes Joni on one of the pornographic websites he visits. Aaron is the photogra­pher and the site provides the couple with a generous secret income. Sigerius’ son seizes upon this as an opportunity to blackmail him.

Buwalda succeeds in crafting his story down to the minutest detail, with countless beautiful phrases and original analogies. Rarely does a writer make his debut with such a multilayered and ambitious novel, and reviewers have emphasized repeatedly that we can expect a great deal from him in years to come.

Buwalda knows how to tease his reader with addictive story lines. A considerable achievement for a seasoned writer much less a newcomer, Bonita Avenue is an entertaining end in itself, and evidence that Buwalda is just getting started.

The Independent

Fluent and complex, uncompromising and occasionally shocking, Bonita Avenue exposes a domestic dystopia where madness, violence and dark sexuality are seen to be only a hair’s breadth away.

The Daily Mail

[…] a new writer as toe-curling as early Roth, as roomy as Franzen and as caustic as Houellebecq. Don’t let me forget to mention Jonathan Reeder’s note-perfect English translation.

The Telegraph

Buwalda’s style is excellent, combined with the structure. He writes expressively, clearly, without frills and with humour. Buwalda seems to be a mature writer already.

Het Parool


Peter Buwalda

Peter Buwalda (b. 1971) is a novelist, formerly a journalist, editor, and founder of the literary music journal Wah-Wah and columnist for de Volkskrant. First published in 2010 to critical acclaim, his first novel Bonita Avenue was shortlisted for twelve literary prizes and spent years on…

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Bonita Avenue (2010). Fiction, 543 pages.

Themes: debut


De Bezige Bij

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