Former ‘city poet’ of Nijmegen, theatre maker, once wished to become African.
Jaap Robben is a writer, poet and stage director. Since 2000 he has written poetry and short stories for both children and adults, and has published four collections of stories: Twee vliegen (Two Flies, 2004), De nacht krekelt (The Night is Full of Crickets, 2007), Zullen we een bos beginnen? (Shall We Start a Wood?, 2008, shortlisted for the Dutch-language Golden Owl Youth Literature Prize), De Zuurtjes (Sourballs, 2010) and Als iemand ooit mijn botjes vindt (If Anyone Ever Finds My Bones, 2012). Josephine, een naam als een piano (Josephine, a name like a piano, 2012), a picture book for children five years and older, is a restrained, loving and intimate portrait of a child’s amazement about a grandmother’s family history. It was published in a German translation this spring. Birk (2014) was his first novel for adults. This haunting, soberly told story about the premature loss of innocence focuses on a mother’s psychological struggle with her son. It was received to critical acclaim and has been translated into four languages.
You Have Me to Love
Ars Vivendi Verlag, 2016
Translated by Birgit Erdmann
Original title: Birk (De Geus, 2014)
Mikael lives with his parents on a small and remote island between Scotland and Norway. One day, his father disappears into the sea and Mikael keeps silent about what has happened. Guilt, consolation and reproaches pile up, until his mother demands the impossible from him. Birk is a story as tender as it is oppressive, about people who become islands themselves.