Schogt’s superb new novel is narrated by the writer of a la carte travel guides. He’s currently collecting data for one on Ireland. Usually he skips several ‘attractions’ and cobbles together his text from other guides and the internet. He lazily drifts through life, never fully engaging with anyone or anything. Until that night in Swansea with Linda, his colleague who is off to cover Wales. She crept into his bed and now Max is in love, suddenly he feels where before he just let things flow by him.
He is forced to re-assess his existence. The beauty of the Irish countryside touches him profoundly and he loses his way. When his ex-best friend dies a hero and his boss finds out about Max’s work methods, Max’s carefully constructed nonchalance finally cracks. Often hilarious and utterly gripping, this novel perfectly captures man’s disillusionment and apathy and life’s ability to shatter them.
Material: Dutch edition (180pp).
Vera Samson, the 35-year-old main character in THE PHILOSOPHER’S WIFE has supported her partner Luuk van Wleuten’s ambitions for years, emotionally as well as financially. Your time will come, she would tell him, first during the difficult time studying philosophy, then during his many failed attempts to find someone to fund his research into the work of the controversial philosopher Francois Malmedy, so that Luuk could stay home working on his book in peace, whenever his depressions let him. But one day, shortly after a publisher shows interest and times are therefore finally getting better, Luuk goes off with another woman.
After a difficult time Vera has dealt with her abandonment and picked up the thread of her life once more. Then Luuk’s book The Pain Barrier comes out, a 950-page autobiographical search for ‘intense existence’, as described by the philosopher Malmedy. When Vera reads a glowingly enthusiastic review, she is shocked to discover that she is not only mentioned by name and surname in the book, she is presented as ‘the enemy’, the opposition that every hero, according to Malmedy, needs to overcome to flourish. In the review Luuk is praised for his ‘vicious and hilarious portrait of the well-behaved, colourless Vera, who with her kind relativisms gradually grows into a devil of mediocrity’.
For her own self-preservation, Vera decides not to read The Pain Barrier. But this subjects her to the shards of information she happens to pick up from the media, acquaintances and colleagues and especially her best friend Angela, who has offered herself as ‘taster’. The more Vera gets to know about the book the more frightened she becomes about what else could be in it. Her self-confidence cracks more and more. It sends her to a place from where she comes out wiser, with her own greatness very much intact.
'Read and shiver.' Spits
'An entertaining, cleverly constructed novel...compelling.' Volkskrant
'An engaging moral tale with a forbidding undertone and a surprising finale.' Brabants Dagblad
'Fluently written with vivid descriptions.' Trouw
Arbeiderspers NL (original publisher)
Material: Dutch and Italian copies (176pp).
Joop Daalder is in search of perfection. A Dutch immigrant and celebrated chocolatier in Toronto, Joop is confronted with ruin when a super-deli is built next to his shop, and his clientele quickly vanish. The last straw is when the deli’s car park is expanded and his shop has to be destroyed. Joop fights against it, in spite of alienating his wife and being laughed at by his son. As the plot proceeds, we learn of Joop’s childhood, when, already an outsider in a family of intellectuals and musicians, where food was of no interest, his taste buds develop unnoticed by the others until he finds his vocation and true happiness as an apprentice to master chocolatier Sorel in France. DAALDER is about love of quality in an era of the perfectly packaged imitation.
'As rich and bittersweet as the best of Daalder's creations.' Kirkus Review
'Taste, that is what Daalder is all about. Daalder's talent lies in his tasting abilities. In the end it is also the root of his downfall, because Joop Daalder refuses to make compromises where his taste is concerned… So Daalder is also about pride and stubbornness. These themes stay under the surface in the novel, just as the taste-bouquet of a good bonbon only reveals itself on the tongue … Schogt writes in such a way that you want to know what precisely has happened in this life. He keeps the reader sweet but not by filling his text with frills. Simplicity in form, balance in taste - that is the credo of the chocolatier, and clearly of this writer too. In both cases it works… DAALDER is a tragicomedy that tastes of more.' Algemeen Dagblad
'DAALDER has in certain ways something in common with Susskind's famous novel[Perfume]… In a way it is the civilised person's version of Susskind's savage story… Schogt tells the story calmly, without literary acrobatics or dizzy irony. His foremost strength is simplicity and irony. He makes of Joop Daalder an intriguing character … His depiction of his characters has something of the great American master Updike. Without greatly stressing it, his characters experience great conflicts. And in this way you also taste in Daalder's life story the conflict between European and America culture, between careful craftsmanship and quick opportunism … Schogt manages in this unassuming novel to bring out sparks of tragedy and happiness, passion and despair, criticism and acceptance, egoism and idealism. In the end it has most in common with a Joop Daalder bonbon, simple, without frills but with taste nuances that stay with you for a long time.' Trouw
'Just as in THE WILD NUMBERS...the passion which makes his main character shine, at the same time makes him a social amputee… Schogt has a great story and also knows how to build it up.' De Volkskrant
'Apart from being a novel about eating, DAALDER is also a family saga. Schogt has a good eye for the pitfalls of upbringing… The experiences of tasting Schogt also knows well now to put into words… The best passages are those in which Daalder behaves as a man with a mission. Against tastelessness, against snobbish yuppiedom.' Elsevier
Arbeiderspers NL (original publisher)
Thunders Mouth Press USA
List Verlag Germany
Material: Dutch, German and Italian and US editions (322pp in English).
A stunning first novel about the essence of inspiration. Swift, a 35 year old maths professor, has, after years of fruitless labour, managed to solve the most challenging mathematical riddle of all times - the Wild Number Problem. Then he is accused of plagiarism.
'I have never read a better fictional description of what it's like to work in pure math. The masters and would-be masters of the domain; the backbiting, and finally the bliss of finding a solution – or what you think is a solution.... It's all here.' Amir D. Aczel
'THE WILD NUMBERS is a delight. It provides excellent and entertaining insights into the lives and the ill-understood drives of working mathematicians. I strongly recommend it.' Sir Roger Penrose, author of The Emperor's New Mind and Shadows of the Mind
Edizioni Dedalo Italy