Eva Maria Staal

Probeer het mortuarium

A past that can’t be buried

The past can’t be buried. It is simply not possible to draw a line under a dubious period in your life. Some day, and no one can predict quite when, the past will come knocking on your door. This is the point of departure for Eva Maria Staal’s exciting debut entitled Probeer het mortuarium (Try the Mortuary).

Her main character - also called Eva Maria Staal - was once the right hand of a notorious weapons dealer. Guns and grenades for the Chechens? Tanks for Pakistan? No problem. Staal and her boss Jimmy Liu delivered anywhere and always on time. They didn’t even recoil from smuggling children. After falling out with Liu and starting anew, Staal marries her adolescent love, Martin, and gives birth to a daughter. But how can she tell her daughter what she used to get up to in bygone days? When her gun tumbles out of the cupboard while they are moving house, memories of former times come flooding back. She has to face the truth: about Jimmy and herself and about the repugnant trade in weapons and children in which she played a part.

By giving her protagonist the same name - a pseudonym - Eva Maria Staal gives the impression that her novel is autobiographical, promoting its credibility. The technique of alternating the memories of the former weapons dealer with the present-day married mother, allows the past to creep into the present, until there is no longer a distinction between the two. The past has become the present.

Staal’s style, in which all superfluous words seem to have been scrapped, resembles that of the American writer Andrew Vachss to a certain degree: she uses short, sometimes extremely short chapters, truncated sentences, and every style technique possible to stimulate rapid reading. This gives this debut an entirely distinctive, recognizable countenance.

A fast, well-documented, enthralling novel about the line between good and evil.

Het Parool

Sophisticated in its composition, with a reserved style of humour, alternatingly between nasty and sensitive in its tone, and not a redundant word […] Eva Maria Staal is a true talent.

De Telegraaf

Staal’s cleverly written and composed novel does not read like a debut […] The writer of this novel is surely an asset.

Vrij Nederland

In sober, well-chosen prose, Staal sketches how major weapon deals are concluded with hooligans who stop at nothing. […] An overwhelming, exceptional book.



Eva Maria Staal

Eva Maria Staal (b. 1960) was involved in the weapons trade for years, and currently writes for the literary magazine Hollands Maandblad. With Probeer het mortuarium, her debut novel, she won the Lucy C. en B.W. van der Hoogtprijs and the Schaduwprijs 2007 (Shadow Prize), the award for the best…

lees meer


Probeer het mortuarium (2007). Fictie, 190 pagina's.

Thema's: crime


Nieuw Amsterdam

Johannes Vermeerstraat 63
1071 DN Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 570 61 00
Fax: +31 20 570 61 99

[email protected]

lees meer

Literair agent

Sebes & Bisseling Literary Agency

Herengracht 613-III
NL - 1017 CE Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 616 09 40
[email protected]

lees meer