Nominated by:

Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam, The Netherlands

De Bibliotheek Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Stichting Bibliotheek Rotterdam, The Netherlands

The Libraries of the Hague, The Netherlands

De Bibliotheek Utrecht, The Netherlands

Publisher of nominated edition:

MacLehose, UK


Adriaan van Dis      

Translated from the original Dutch by Ina Rilke

2015 Longlist

Mulder, a Dutchman, returns at last to South Africa, his memories scattered by forty years and two strokes.
Once he fought to free the country from apartheid; now he finds its people asking whether years of democracy have left them any better off. The village where his friend Donald – a comrade from his Fraternité days – lives is as segregated as ever: fishermen struggle to eke out a living and kids wreck their brains with crystal meth.
Tensions are high: Donald wages a campaign against the local mayor; every day the whites add inches to their perimeter fences. So when Mulder and Donald attempt to help a young tik-head get clean against his will, their muddled good intentions can only be misunderstood…

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Adriaan van Dis is a Dutch author with roots in what was the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). As a young man he studied Afrikaans at Amsterdam University. His novel My Father’s War won a number of awards in the Netherlands and was translated into English by Ina Rilke.

About the Translator

Ina Rilke is the prize-winning translator of books by Cees Nooteboom, W. F. Hermans, Erwin Mortier, Tessa de Loo, Dai Sijie and Margriet de Moor.

Librarians’ Comments

A novel of political importance, beautifully written. Dutchman Mulder visits with his old friend Donald as he returns to South Africa, a land he knew during the days of apartheid. Life may have moved on and apartheid ceased but some things have worsened, different isn’t necessarily better. The black townships still suffer and squalid conditions still prevail for those not black enough. Van Dis brings a story of deprivation without preaching, instead he shows us the results of the complex contributions flawed humanity, politics, power and resource distribution have made in South Africa. What happens when two white men, forty years ago active in the resistance against apartheid, meet each other again? Does the new South Africa reflect their old ideals?

A man returns to South Africa in search of his past. Within a world of crime and corruption he takes pity on a drug user. South Africa of the poor can be smelled in this magnificent novel full of character. The poor whose only wealth is hope. Direct dialogues, colourful descriptions, and a very nice psychological profile of the main characters.

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