Writersblog

Salomon Kroonenberg

Salomon Kroonenberg, Dutch writer

The Dutch programme at the International Book Fair in Beijing was cunn... >>> read more

Kai Kang

Kai Kang, Journalist China Reading Weekly

Dear Dutch publishers. The book fair is over. Perhaps you’ll now... >>> read more

Ingrid and Dieter Schubert

Ingrid and Dieter Schubert, Dutch illustrators

The days are full and long. We are incessantly bombarded with impressi... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

Arriving on the stand on the first day, I’d asked a Chinese visi... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

Big excitement today since we were finally meeting with Songyu from Fl... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

The traffic in Beijing is horrendous, I’m sure the other blogger... >>> read more

Thomas Möhlmann

Thomas Möhlmann, Staff member Dutch Foundation for Literature

What an evening the poets and the approximately 200 onlookers present ... >>> read more

Ingrid and Dieter Schubert

Ingrid and Dieter Schubert, Dutch illustrators

It’s now the third day, and the first one with plenty of sun. Un... >>> read more

Kai Kang

Kai Kang, Journalist China Reading Weekly

What a great opportunity to learn about the Dutch literature for Chine... >>> read more

Salomon Kroonenberg

Salomon Kroonenberg, Dutch writer

A duck flies to and fro over the vast expanses of world ocean, despera... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

‘In the era of browsing, we provide reading.’ - Slogan see... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

The jewel in the crown of our collection of Arbeiderspers titles publi... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

The Chinese publishers I have met during the course of my career, the ... >>> read more

Salomon Kroonenberg

Salomon Kroonenberg, Dutch writer

I have so far never been to a book fair. Nor do I know what to imagine... >>> read more

Kai Kang

Kai Kang, Journalist China Reading Weekly

Since 2006, I began writing about the Netherlands’ performance a... >>> read more

Henk Pröpper

Henk Pröpper, Director Dutch Foundation for Literature

Now that the fair is just round the corner, this is perhaps the moment... >>> read more

Henk Pröpper

Henk Pröpper, Director Dutch Foundation for Literature

In two weeks’ time, the official opening of one of the largest b... >>> read more

Ramsey Nasr

Ramsey Nasr, Dutch poet

Ramsey Nasr (b. 1974, Rotterdam) is a poet and author, actor and direc... >>> read more


Gerbrand Bakker

Gerbrand Bakker

  • Opening programme 'Open landscape - open book'
    Date: Tue 30 August Time: 06.00 pm Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts
  • Liu Zhenyun in conversation with Gerbrand Bakker
    Date: Sat 3 September Time: 11.30 am Venue: BIBF

Life and work

Gerbrand Bakker (b. 1962) studied Dutch language and literature and worked as a subtitler for nature films before becoming a gardener. His previous books include an etymological dictionary for children and the juvenile novel Perenbomen bloeien wit (‘Pear Trees Bloom White’, 1999), which has been translated into German. Boven is het stil (‘It Is Silent Up There’), his first adult novel, appeared in 2006. This bestselling book has been awarded the IMPAC Literary Award for Best European Novel, is translated into many languages and will be made into a film. In 2009 he published Juni (June), followed in 2010 by De omweg (The Detour, 2010).

Boven is het stil

‘I’ve put father upstairs.’ So begins It’s Silent Up There by Gerbrand Bakker, winner of 2006’s prize for the most successful literary debut. The novel was also nominated for the Libris Literature Prize and has been through numerous reprints. Its success is not entirely surprising, since Bakker tells a classic story in a spare and relentless style against the backdrop of a timeless universe: life on a farm in a ‘slient’ and melancholy landscape. Fifty-five-year-old Helmer van Wonderen’s life came to a standstill in 1967, when his twin brother Henk (‘we were boys with one body’) was killed in a car crash and he had to break off his degree course in Dutch literature to help his father on the farm. Henk was the apple of his father’s eye, but now it is up to Helmer, the useless one, to save the family business. Helmer resolves his suffocating relationship with his father in the first line of the novel by putting his bedridden father upstairs, where he slowly dies. (‘I’m hungry,’ says the father. ‘I’m hungry sometimes too,’ I say.) The death of his father and the unexpected arrival on the farm of his twin brother’s unruly teenage son restore meaning to his life, if only in the sense that he realises he must face the world utterly alone.

Translation in Chinese

  • Bakker, Gerbrand. [(Boven is het stil)] Chinese / translated from Dutch. Shanghai: Shanghai 99, 2011.

Titles in NLF-database

Authors