Thomas Heerma van Voss


The harrowing story of a man incapable of human contact

Stern is a tragic story, in some ways reminiscent of Louis Begley’s About Schmidt. The main character is a man forced to retire and make room for a new generation, who finds himself confronted with the emptiness of his existence.

Heerma van Voss describes the life of Hugo Stern, a man who has never succeeded in creating a bond with other people. An only child, he grows up alone with his mother. In one telling episode when he is a student in London, he befriends a Korean who never ever says anything – they go to the movies together and stare at the screen.

Back in the Netherlands, Stern marries. He and his wife have a baby who dies soon after birth and they adopt a Korean child, giving him the same forename. The story reaches a climax when the son, who has turned eighteen, wants to visit his native country.

Stern is torn by separation anxiety, the memory of his friend in London who never answered his letters, and his inability to press his child to his chest, all of which culminates in a heart-rending final scene at the airport. Stern is a moving, disturbing and witty novel.

Stern is a faultlessly written novel that will leave you wondering what Hugo Stern’s fatal flaw really is. Impressive.

NRC Handelsblad

Thomas Heerma van Voss

Thomas Heerma van Voss (b. 1991) made his debut in 2009 with the novel The Everything Table. In 2013 it was followed by the novel Stern and he was hailed as the most promising new voice in the Dutch literary world. In 2014 he published the short-story collection The Third Person, which was…

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Stern (2013). Fiction, 216 pages.
Words: 55,250


Thomas Rap

Van Miereveldstraat 1
1071 DW Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 305 98 10
Fax: +31 20 305 98 24

[email protected]

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