Jamal Ouariachi


A hard-hitting psychological novel that takes the reader deep into the mind of a narcissist

This kaleidoscopic narrative is shot through with the unease of its thirtysomething protagonist, tormented by the emptiness of his existence and prone to violent outbursts directed at his girlfriends. At the same time it is a compelling and darkly humorous exploration of the male condition, complete with its own twisted take on couples therapy.

When the bar he owns goes bankrupt and his relationship with Elsa, the love of his life, comes to a violent end, the nameless protagonist of *Tenderness *falls into despondency. He finds a job as a postal worker for a magazine publisher and lives life according to a fixed pattern: every Saturday he hits the bars with two bachelor buddies and every Sunday his mother comes to call.

His weekly grind is disrupted when he finds a basket of kittens near his office one day. He decides to keep one, christens him Buscemi, and before he knows it his newfound pet has brought him into contact with Zerline, who quickly becomes the new woman in his life. Initially all is well in love, but before long a familiar tension starts to build and cracks appear in their relationship. As with Elsa, he is unable to control his fits of rage. During one such explosion, he throws a lamp at Zerline and accidentally kills Buscemi.

Alone again, he backslides into an aimless existence. He tries to analyse his state of mind, considers seeking professional help and loses himself in the cinematic violence of Lynch, Tarantino and Hitchcock. *Vertigo *inspires him to embark on a crazy experiment with a colleague who has fallen in love with him. He begins a relationship with her in which they re-enact his previous conflicts with Elsa and Zerline: an uneasy mix of anger management and couples therapy.

Convinced that he is cured of his violent impulses, he tries to get back together with Zerline and pick up where they left off. She rebuffs him outright and tells him that aggression is not the root of his problems. The heart of the matter is not entirely clear, not even for the reader, who by this time has been lured into the dark recesses of the narrator’s mind. In this gripping novel, Ouariachi leaves plenty to the imagination and immerses the reader in an intense depiction of a born narcissist who is both desperately in need of love and incapable of having a relationship: ‘Alone with his thoughts, burdened with nothing or no one other than himself.’

Read till your stomach aches; this magnificent, painful journey of an unfathomable man with an unquenchable thirst.

de Volkskrant

This is a quintessentially psychological novel […], a book that shows the reader many facets of the human soul. […] A relatively young talent but a mature and impressive novel.


An intelligent and compellingly written book which immediately convinces the reader that this is not the work of an ordinary young writer. This is an oeuvre in the making.

De Standaard

What we’re dealing with here is full-blown insanity – an experience to savour.

Vrij Nederland

Jamal Ouariachi

Jamal Ouariachi (b. 1978) studied psychology and spent years working as an online therapist. He made his literary debut in 2010 with the novel De vernietiging van Prosper Morèl (The Destruction of Prosper Morèl). Since then he has written controversial stories, articles and columns for a range of…

lees meer


Vertedering (2013). Fiction, 367 pages.
Words: 112,000



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

[email protected]

lees meer