Tag Archives: dutch literature

43. Parents Worry, Gerard Reve (1988)

Gerard Reve is one of the giants of post-War Dutch literature, but of course he’s barely known in the UK and hardly any of his work has been translated. I first came across him through Paul Verhoeven’s film adaptation of The Fourth Man, an art-house hit in the 80s. Years later, a well-read polyglot friend was raving about Reve, so I tracked down a copy of Parents Worry, his only translated novel, and I loved it. It’s a heady mixture of alcoholism, homosexuality, Catholicism and self-loathing all wrapped up in a fractured narrative with all sorts of linguistic experimentation – the sort of thing I’d usually cross the road to avoid. But once you enter Reve-world, there’s no turning back. I wish someone would sort out a decent English edition of his work, it’s so frustrating! When Reve died in 2006 I petitioned the Guardian, for whom I was then working, to run an obituary, but they said he was too obscure, presumably on the grounds that he was only a major European author and not an American jazz musician.

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