From the Publisher
WINNER - THE IMPAC DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD
A novel of restrained tenderness and laconic humor. —J.M. Coetzee
Stealthy, seductive story-telling that draws you into a world of silent rage and quite unexpected relationships. Compelling and convincing from beginning to end. —Tim Parks
This is a novel of great brilliance and subtlety. It contains scenes of enveloping psychological force . . . its extraordinary last section suggesting that fulfillment of long-standing aspirations can arrive, unanticipated, in late middle-age. —Paul Binding
I have rarely been so captivated by a voice. The plot of this unusual novel is simple, but its power is mysterious. Gerbrand Bakker’s tone and language make the despondent yet valiant narrator utterly authentic and the plain rural setting mesmerizing. The family drama has the quality of myth, yet remains rooted in daily reality, so much so that I responded with the innocent surrender of a child reader: I had lived on that Dutch farm and shared the characters’ tragedies and small triumphs. This is a book that restores one’s faith in meticulous realism. —Lynne Sharon
Schwartz I found The Twin, by Gerbrand Bakker, sitting on a coffee table at a writers' colony in 2009. I finished it, weeping, a day later, and have been puzzling over its powerful hold on me ever since. I've recommended it again and again. —Amy Waldman, All Things Considered, NPR
This is a quiet book, humble in tone, with a fine, self-deprecating humour […] It leaves the reader touched and with the impression of having seen and smelled the ever-damp Dutch platteland. —Times Literary Supplement
From the Hardcover edition.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School—Henk was more popular and athletic than Helmer, his identical twin, while growing up on a small rural Netherlands farm. Henk was their father's favorite son. Naturally lovely Riet chooses to marry him instead of Helmer. After Henk dies in an auto accident a couple of months before the wedding, Helmer is forced to leave college and return to the family farm. With deep bitterness, he spends days mucking the stalls and milking cows. Now, 37 years later, Helmer moves his invalid father upstairs to get him out of the way and slowly transforms the living space to be more suitable for a bachelor. After a few correspondences from recently widowed Riet, Helmer agrees to take in her teenage son. She feels that hard farm work will give him some direction. Colmer's superb translation allows the novel's authentic voice to be heard by American readers. Bakker captures Helmer's true feelings with excellent inner dialogue. His ongoing feud with his father instills an unusual bond between the two. Teens will appreciate the setting of farmland, canals, windmills, and green pastures, and some will see how family dynamics are ongoing and changing.—Gregory Lum, Jesuit High School, Portland, OR
Read an Excerpt
I’ve put Father upstairs. I had to park him on a chair first to take the bed apart. He sat there like a calf that’s just a couple of minutes old, before it’s been licked clean: with a directionless, wobbly head and eyes that drift over things. I ripped off the blankets, sheets and undersheet, leaned the mattress and bed boards against the wall, and unscrewed the sides of the bed. I tried to breathe through my mouth as much as possible. I’d already cleared out the upstairs room – my room.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"You’re moving," I said.
"I want to stay here."
I let him keep the bed. One half of it has been cold for more than ten years now, but the unslept side is still crowned with a pillow. I screwed the bed back together in the upstairs room, facing the window. I put the legs up on blocks and remade it with clean sheets and two clean pillow-cases.