In part of a nameless, contemporary city a large hole yawns between a row of old houses. Residents in this colourful area have speculated for years why there are no houses there. But then the gap is opportunely filled by the creation of a modern architect. A luxurious apartment block of steel, glass and round walls. Eight inhabitants move in to the six apartments: an old couple (the man with a vulnerable army past); an engineer (working on his PhD, obsessed by a lover); a musician composer (equally obsessively at work on a tone poem); a journalist; a woman who shuts herself away more and more out of unhappiness with her big breasts; and an academic couple, of which the man quickly takes on the role of group leader.
Franke describes their lives in an exciting and moving way, from each individual perspective. Each beautiful story is extraordinary but features an instantly sympathetic character. The people of the neighbourhood are also vividly described, tenderly but with brutal honesty; simple people who have great trouble with the new privileged arrivals. The tension between the two factions grows steadily coming to a terrifying climax, that leaves little hope for reconciliation. We end where we began, with a hole. WOLFSTONEN is a triumphant marriage of stylistic adventure and satisfying content, redoubtable.
'Vital and moving.' Trouw
'A triumph of the imagination. Brimming with intrigue and tension as well as being funny and streetwise.' NRC Handelsblad
'A glorious book...as beautiful as a glass block: glittering, joyful, continually changing in perspective according to how the light falls on it, and especially full of refreshing prose... and incredibly funny.' Het Financieel Dagblad
Podium NL (original publisher)
Material: Dutch edition (524 pages); sample English translation.
A brilliantly structured literary novel about Horatio Nelson and the miniature painting of his mistress, Emma Hamilton, which he carried in his sleeve – to fill his emptiness with love - but which is now missing. A host of characters, all in some way connected with Nelson and Emma Hamilton and the miniature, are introduced to form a puzzle that builds up to completion in a totally gripping, stunningly clever and entertaining way. Franke effortlessly inhabits the myriad characters: the tough but sensitive Nelson and his pitifully overlooked daughter Horatia, but also a cleaner who climbs up the statue, an Arsenal fan, an attendant, an over-sexed punk girl, a traumatised bus driver - which leads to beautiful and sometimes heart-stopping episodes, amongst others one in which the bus driver who relives the route on which his own daughter was killed and through this manages possibly to divest himself of his panic and angst. The thread that holds it all together is the journey made by the nude painting of Emma...
'Extraordinarily original… brilliant series of exercises in style… funny and entertaining … the biggest surprise of this novel is that every thing works, fits and hangs together wonderfully well… admirable tour de force… virtuoso.' De Volkskrant
'Because stylistically everything is more than just in order, Herman Franke's book has become one of those rare novels that show the true power of the word.' Standaard der Letteren
'Nelson's Touch is a novel that does its title all justice. It is an unusually exciting novel. Franke brings, in greatly varying styles – from a simple story telling tone to Joycean internal monologue – the rich themes of the novel to life. This book is a triumph of the imagination… Franke has the literary courage of the author who like Flaubert dares the leap to the ultimate. To where literature starts and never stops, to the source of everything: the imagination.' Generale Bank Prize Jury report
'I take off my hat and bow deeply in front of this novel.' Michael Zeeman
'To get straight to the point: Nelson's Touch by Herman Franke is a brilliant novel, of the kind that you become completely immersed and read with growing wonderment. Not only are the numerous stories that tell the whole gripping and multi-layered in themselves, they are also combined with each other in unpredictable ways. You keep coming across new connections and revelations and holding new expectations. Makes you want to swear with pleasure, this book is so good … The book keeps bringing modernistic tomes like Ulysses to mind, in which a network of stories are fit perfectly together.' De Morgen
Podium NL (original publisher)
Material: Dutch edition (458 pages);
sample English translation;
complete German translation.