The Cannibal

Lute manages the sales department of a pharmaceutical company somewhere in the green heart of the Netherlands. One day he is told they are to be taken over by a large Swiss corporation. And not only that – all the staff in the department he is responsible for will be made redundant.

Original title
De menseneter
Tom Hofland

Everyone has to leave as quickly as possible. Lute is explicitly told to make sure that his faithful coworkers resign of their own accord. When he goes to drown his sorrows in a bar, he runs into the mysterious Lombard. This experienced interim manager knows exactly how to help him. From this moment on, things get completely out of hand. It’s not until someone loses their life that people start to question what’s happening.

The passivity of the characters is recognisable to anyone who has ever had an office job. In essence Hofland’s novel is an indictment of the dehumanisation that occurs in the corporate world, an illustration of how the drive for efficiency makes managers forget that employees are human beings.

Hofland has already demonstrated his penchant for experimenting with different genres: his debut, Lyssa, was a 19th-century costume drama and his second book, Vele vreemde vormen (Many Strange Shapes), was a detective story.

In The Cannibal, he combines the ingredients of a classic gothic novel with post-modern elements reminiscent of David Lynch and the humour of The Office. A strange, captivating and topical book.

‘Hofland adds something extra, something distinct which also characterises his other work: a combination of irony, absurdism and suspense. These elements are hard to balance – it’s easy for it to end up being silly, opaque or too random. But in The Cannibal he gets it just right. The story is both witty and suspenseful – a rare combination.’

de Volkskrant

‘This kind of combination of hilarity and astuteness is very rare – a book like this is one-of-a-kind.’

Het Parool
Tom Hofland
Tom Hofland (b. 1990) is a writer and podcaster. 'The Cannibal' (2022) is his third novel.
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