Translated from the original Dutch by Sam Garrett
A border town on the steppe. A small group of emaciated and feral refugees appears out of nowhere, spreading fear and panic in the town. When police commissioner Pontus Beg orders their arrest, evidence of a murder is found in their luggage. As he begins to unravel the history of their hellish journey, it becomes increasingly intertwined with the search for his own origins that he has embarked upon. Now he becomes the group’s inquisitor … and, finally, something like their saviour.
Beg’s likeability as a character and his dry-eyed musings considering the nature of religion keep the reader pinned to the page from the start. At the same time, the apocalyptic atmosphere of the group’s exodus across the steppes becomes increasingly vivid and laden with meaning as the novel proceeds, in seeming synchronicity with the development of Beg’s character.
With a rare blend of humour and wisdom, Tommy Wieringa links man’s dark nature with the question of who we are and whether redemption is possible.
About the Author
Tommy Wieringa was born in 1967 and grew up partly in the Netherlands, and partly in the tropics. He began his writing career with travel stories and journalism, and is the author of four other novels. His fiction has been shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Oxford/Weidenfeld Prize, and has won Holland’s Libris Literature Prize.
A small group of refugees arrives in an isolated border town on the steppe where the police commissioner, he himself in search of his own origins, tries to unravel their history. A timeless, profound, lyric, gripping story about migration and displacement. This novel won the prestigious Libris Literatuur Prijs in 2013.
To quote The Guardian (21.2.15), These Are The Names is “a timeless tale of migration”.