Kees van Beijnum

© Keke Keukelaar
Frankfurter Buchmesse
Guest of Honour 2016

Kees van Beijnum

1954, Amsterdam
Journalist. Script writer. Novelist.

Kees van Beijnum made his début in 1991 with the crime novel Over het IJ. This was followed by a steady flow of novels, including highlights such as the autobiographical Dichter op de Zeedijk (1996) and the amorous De oesters van Nam Kee (2000), which elevated Van Beijnum to one of the best literary narrators in the Dutch-speaking world. Van Beijnum, who also writes screenplays, has a keen eye for the elements of a good story. He does not play an intellectual game with his characters, but endows them with a beating heart and sharp senses. Despite the sobering truths in his novels, in particular in De vrouw die alles had (2002), a drama about a mother and a son, and Het verboden pad (2004), about the darkest depths of the welfare system, reading his work is like going to a salutary film. 'You have to love your characters, but you also have to bring them to the edge of the abyss,' Van Beijnum said in an interview. ‘That is the real drama, the truth and the pain.' His latest novel, De offers (2014), a historical novel about a Dutch judge who is sent to Japan to try war criminals after World War II, was published in Germany at the end of 2015.


  Dutch Foundation for Literature   Translations   De Bezige Bij   C. Bertelsmann Verlag

Recently translated into German

Die Zerbrechlichkeit der Welt
C. Bertelsmann Verlag, 2016
Translated by Hanni Ehlers
Original title: De offers (De Bezige Bij, 2014)

Tokyo 1946. A year after the capitulation of Japan, the Tokyo Tribunal is well underway. Dutchman Rem Brink is one of the judges tasked with reaching a verdict on the most prominent of Japanese war criminals. To distract himself from his colleagues’ power games and continually changing alliances, Brink tries to get to know an unfamiliar and utterly destroyed country. When he meets Japanese soprano Michiko, who lost her parents during the bombing of Japan, a tender, secret love unfolds that turns out to bring dangers of its own. When their relationship is revealed, Michiko falls into disfavour with her Western benefactor. Her promising future lies in ruins and she leaves, pregnant, for her native village in the mountains. At that same isolated place, only a short time before, atrocious war crimes took place in secret.
Characters who will steal your heart. […] There are books that radiate self-confidence from the very first page, permeated with concentration, control and a kind of maturity. If we, for the moment, define good writing as getting readers where you want them, Sacrifice can only be called exemplary.

NRC Handelsblad