Robbert Welagen

The Disappearance of Robbert

A melancholy, philosophical novel about the desire to disappear without trace

In The Disappearance of Robbert, Welagen plays a witty game, full of self-mockery, with his own life as a writer. The Robbert who disappears is also called Welagen. He’s a twenty-five-year-old writer who, like the author, has written a novel entitled Lipari that won him a prize for the year’s best debut.

In describing the disappearance of his central character, Welagen was inspired by the classic film l’Avventura by Antonioni, as well as by artists including Tacita Dean and Bas Jan Ader. But the origin of his sometimes extremely humorous narrative is personal as well. As a boy Welagen often imagined disappearing without trace; it was a desire that overcame him again after his first novel was published.

One morning, having cleared everything out of his house, the fictional Robbert flees his life, his friends, his family and his best friend Claire, who is about to marry someone else. He takes a train to Germany, where he rents an apartment, finds a job and enters into a sexual relationship with the woman next door. His flight into sex leads nowhere, and he is tracked down by a detective hired by his family. He travels on in a Land Rover to wherever chance may take him. It’s a journey that ends on a small island in the Ionian Sea.

In contrast to his sources of inspiration, Welagen focuses on the fate of the man who disappears, rather than on the empty space he leaves behind for his loved ones. The result is a surprisingly light, humorous story.

Where Robbert fails to disappear, Welagen has brilliantly achieved confusion.

de Volkskrant

Welagen substantially revamps his authorship.

NRC Handelsblad

Fascinating, funny, moving, wise and contrary.

Het Parool

Robbert Welagen

Robbert Welagen (b. 1981) is a Dutch author of nine novels as well as a number of short stories. He lives in the woods outside Zeist. He made his debut in 2006 with the novella Lipari, which earned him the Selexyz Debut Prize. Het verdwijnen van Robbert (The Disappearance of Robbert, 2013) was…

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Het verdwijnen van Robbert (2013). Fiction, 160 pages.
Words: 36,000


Nijgh & Van Ditmar

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

[email protected]

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