Deniz Kuypers

De atlas van overal

A poignant autobiographical novel about living between multiple cultures and the search for an unknowable father

The author Deniz Kuypers lives in San Francisco, but grew up in the Netherlands in a family with a Dutch mother and an often-absent Turkish father. In his much-acclaimed and largely autobiographical third novel, he recounts his quest to find out where he is from and why it is so difficult for him to put down roots anywhere.

Before Kuypers’ father came to the Netherlands, he was a poet in the Turkish countryside. His family moved to Germany in search of work. He then moved on once again, to Amsterdam, only to end up in Hengelo, where he found a job as a Turkish teacher. He left his wife and children behind in Turkey. In Hengelo, he started a new relationship with the woman who was to become Deniz Kuypers’ mother.

Kuypers’ father frequently travels to Turkey to spend time with his other family. Kuypers never gets to meet his half-siblings in Turkey. His father never learns Dutch; Deniz doesn’t learn Turkish. There is talk of them moving to Turkey one day, but that never comes to pass.

Growing up, Kuypers would see his father sitting in the living room in silence, smoking cigarettes, surrounded by books. They never really connected, except through arguments, anger and aggression. Why was his father like that? It’s not until many years later, after his move to the US, that Kuypers decides to use fiction in an attempt to reconstruct the facts that always remained beyond his reach.

The result is a thoughtful, painstaking and compelling exploration of his father’s past and his own, full of candour and self-examination. It turns out that there is a secret at the heart of his father’s life story, involving a murder he committed back in Turkey for which he served time in prison. Kuypers barely knows any of the details, but he fills in the blanks in an impressive way that recalls Paul Auster’s The Invention of Solitude, which similarly deals with a murder in the author’s family history.

Ultimately, this book is not just a quest for the past – it’s also an attempt to find a way to live on as a father with a family of his own even though he never felt seen by his own father. The story culminates in a moving apotheosis which sees Kuypers renewing contact with his father, even if the two men remain silent as Kuypers walks along the beach and hears the crackle of static all the way from the Netherlands on the other end of the line.

A stunningly written, disarmingly honest and universal story about a father and son, about family ties, the magic of your birthplace, about dreams and actions, and about understanding who you are.

De Telegraaf

Kuypers has turned a life into literature, allowing him to tolerate and perhaps even understand his father’s behaviour. One of the basic tenets of literature: using fiction to keep horror at bay. That’s exactly what Kuypers has done in this accomplished novel.

De Groene Amsterdammer

An exceptionally beautiful story, as individual as it is universal.


A must-read for anyone seeking to form an opinion about immigration and emigration.

De Limburger

Deniz Kuypers

Deniz Kuypers (b. 1981) is the author of three novels. He made his debut with Dagen zonder Dulci (‘Days Without Dulci’, 2013), followed a year later by Het ruisen van de wereld (‘The Rustling of the World’, 2014). His latest book, The Atlas of Everywhere, is about fathers and sons…

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De atlas van overal (2021). Fictie, 375 pagina's.
Aantal woorden: 92.925


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