Nominated by:

The Libraries of The Hague, The Netherlands

Publisher of nominated edition:

Portobello Books, UK

The Latecomer

Verhulst    

Translated from the Dutch by David Colmer

Désiré Cordier – mild-mannered former librarian, put-upon husband, lover of boules – is losing his mind. Or is he? Happily tucked away in the Winterlight Home for the Elderly, Désiré is looking forward to a quiet retirement with the other forgetful residents, safe in the knowledge that no one knows he’s faking his memory loss. Perhaps, he thinks, this might even be his chance to rekindle his childhood romance with the once – beautiful Rosa Rozendaal – the love of his youth, the one who got away.

But dementia isn’t all fun and games. There’s a former war criminal hiding out in the home; Rosa might be too far gone to return Désiré’s ardour; and our hero soon begins to suspect he’s not the only one in winterlight who’s acting a part……

A tender love story of demented minds and honourable hearts, and a razor-sharp satire of the indignities of old age and the callousness of caregiving, The Latecomer excoriates our society and asks: might we all be better off forgetting?

About the author & translator

Dimitri Verhulst is the author of many award-winning books in his native Dutch, four of which have previously been translated into English: Madame Verona Comes Down the Hill, Problemski Hotel, The Misfortunates and Christ’s Entry into Brussels. His work is published in two dozen languages worldwide.

David Colmer’s translations from the Dutch include works by Hugo Claus, Cees Nooteboom, Gerbrand Bakker and Annie M.G. Schmidt. His translations have won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. In 2013 he won the Vondel Prize for his translation of Dimitri Verhulst’s The Misfortunates.

Librarians comments:

A story of a man, mild-mannered former librarian, Désiré, who is faking dementia because he wants his family to send him to a retirements home. A tender love story of demented minds and honourable hearts, and a razor-sharp satire of the indignities of old age and the callousness of caregiving.

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