I’ll Come Back to This Later

A dazzling and poignant novel about time travel, memory and regret

Few things are as tempting as musing on what might have happened if you’d taken a different turn at some point in your life. Rob van Essen’s new book, 'I’ll Come Back to This Later', is a gripping, hilarious exploration of what might happen if we were able to fix our past mistakes. It’s a lightfooted philosophical novel – a Dutch counterpart to Paul Auster’s '4 3 2 1'.

Original title
Ik kom hier nog op terug
Rob van Essen

Ron Hollander is an unassuming man in his sixties. He is contacted by an old university pal, a man living in Los Angeles by the name of Icks, who gives him the opportunity to travel back into the past using a time machine. What does he want to go back in time to fix? Hollander recalls a long-suppressed night in his very religious hometown when he almost fell prey to a dangerous man in the woods. While there is clearly unfinished business to be explored there, ultimately Hollander opts to temporarily return to his student years. Once he has been whisked back to this past, he runs into a group of old friends from back then who have also been lured back to the Amsterdam of the late ’80s by the mysterious Icks. Worse than that, it turns out they are unable to get back and are all stuck in their own past.

Reading Rob van Essen is like taking a walk on a brilliantly sunny day. He is one of the most original writers in the country. He uses the story of his ‘temporal refugees’, with all its absurd twists and turns, as a jumping-off point to explore all kinds of existential questions. To what degree do our memories correspond to what really happened? If we got a second chance, would we do the right thing? These questions become increasingly pertinent as it becomes apparent that Icks had a very clear notion of what the time travelers were supposed to set right. Levity notwithstanding, I’ll Come Back to This Later is also a story about irremediable loneliness – and about revenge.

Publishing details
Ik kom hier nog op terug (2023)
400 pages
106,500 words
13,000 copies sold
Sample translation available

Atlas Contact
Hayo Deinum

Translated titles
Verhalen [Stories]: Germany (Elif Verlag). De goede zoon [The Good Son]: Germany (Homonculus, 2020), Russia (Mann, Ivanov and Ferber, 2023)

A great book is a book that’s begging to be read – the kind of book that makes you happy – and one that was begging to be written, in which both the writing and the writer’s hand are visible. Rob van Essen makes everything visible

De Groene Amsterdammer

Sci-fi-esque plot twists, 1980s Amsterdam, student pranks and adult ennui shaken up by strange characters from the past – I’ll Come Back to This Later contains almost all of the ingredients that made Rob van Essen’s previous books so successful (…) It’s a deceptive book that only reveals the most deeply buried pain in the final chapter.

het Parool

Sample Translation

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Rob van Essen
Rob van Essen (b. 1963) is the author of fifteen books. Ever since he made his debut, he has been praised for his imagination and individuality.
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