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The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker
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The Detour (2010)

by Gerbrand Bakker

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3072555,264 (3.77)3 / 117

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English (21)  Dutch (3)  French (1)  All languages (25)
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Five stars. That was easy.
A Dutch woman flees her life, escaping to Wales and bringing only Emily Dickinson and the reader. The deceptively simple narrative pulls you along firmly. Emilie strips herself of the world; the quietude is seductive as she retreats into her self and immediate environment.
Emilie, on first moving into the old farmhouse, attempts some rudimentary gardening, which seems to be more a therapeutic maneuver than anything else. (When Bakker, who also works as a gardener, won the Independent Foreign Fiction prize for this book, he said that "The prize is good because it means sales, and sales mean money for plants for my garden.”) The spare writing reflects the author’s experience as a subtitler for Dutch TV — he had to learn that less is more. The pacing is steady and inexorable. There is a gradual progression of the character through her “process”. Slowly it dawns upon the reader the significance of phrases and passages earlier in the book, and by the interwoven Dickinson poetry, such as: “Presentiment is that long shadow on the lawn, / Indicative that suns go down; / The notice to the startled grass / That darkness is about to pass”
Yet the story is not bleak, or depressing. There are frequent unexpected drily comedic moments, especially in the interactions with some of the local villagers, but also when listening to the character’s inner voice. There are more stories waiting to be told about some of those characters.
I liked this even better than [b:The Twin|2857990|The Twin|Gerbrand Bakker|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1320436733s/2857990.jpg|2884125].

Interesting interviews with the author are here and here. ( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
A woman, a Dutch academic, flees her former life in Amsterdam for the solitude of a Welsh farm. Why? A love affair with a student that ended badly? Poor progress on her dissertation about Emily Dickinson, a subject for which she has developed an aversion? Before long she is joined by a young man who stays, and stays. Meanwhile, in Amsterdam her husband attempts to trace her with the help of a policeman with whom he has struck up a friendship. Underlying the descriptions daily life; hair cuts, trips to the bakery and Tesco there is a foreboding, an unrelenting sadness and worry that is echoed in the mysterious disappearance-one by one-of some of the ten geese that live at the farm. The closer the boy and woman become the further they are apart because of her need to keep a part of herself to herself. After all she did try to get him to leave. What is she to do with him? What's eating at her anyway? And, what is her name? She is using a name not her own. Why? What is behind the boy's need to linger.

Gerbrand's stark imagery of the Welsh landscape layered with the homey descriptions of the Spartan farmhouse with its glowing AGA cooker, the young man's wholesome cooking create a palpable tension. Pieces fall in place bit by bit only to come falling apart again. The depth of this haunting characters will not soon be forgotten. ( )
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
A woman, a Dutch academic, flees her former life in Amsterdam for the solitude of a Welsh farm. Why? A love affair with a student that ended badly? Poor progress on her dissertation about Emily Dickinson, a subject for which she has developed an aversion? Before long she is joined by a young man who stays, and stays. Meanwhile, in Amsterdam her husband attempts to trace her with the help of a policeman with whom he has struck up a friendship. Underlying the descriptions daily life; hair cuts, trips to the bakery and Tesco there is a foreboding, an unrelenting sadness and worry that is echoed in the mysterious disappearance-one by one-of some of the ten geese that live at the farm. The closer the boy and woman become the further they are apart because of her need to keep a part of herself to herself. After all she did try to get him to leave. What is she to do with him? What's eating at her anyway? And, what is her name? She is using a name not her own. Why? What is behind the boy's need to linger.

Gerbrand's stark imagery of the Welsh landscape layered with the homey descriptions of the Spartan farmhouse with its glowing AGA cooker, the young man's wholesome cooking create a palpable tension. Pieces fall in place bit by bit only to come falling apart again. The depth of this haunting characters will not soon be forgotten. ( )
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
A woman, a Dutch academic, flees her former life in Amsterdam for the solitude of a Welsh farm. Why? A love affair with a student that ended badly? Poor progress on her dissertation about Emily Dickinson, a subject for which she has developed an aversion? Before long she is joined by a young man who stays, and stays. Meanwhile, in Amsterdam her husband attempts to trace her with the help of a policeman with whom he has struck up a friendship. Underlying the descriptions daily life; hair cuts, trips to the bakery and Tesco there is a foreboding, an unrelenting sadness and worry that is echoed in the mysterious disappearance-one by one-of some of the ten geese that live at the farm. The closer the boy and woman become the further they are apart because of her need to keep a part of herself to herself. After all she did try to get him to leave. What is she to do with him? What's eating at her anyway? And, what is her name? She is using a name not her own. Why? What is behind the boy's need to linger.

Gerbrand's stark imagery of the Welsh landscape layered with the homey descriptions of the Spartan farmhouse with its glowing AGA cooker, the young man's wholesome cooking create a palpable tension. Pieces fall in place bit by bit only to come falling apart again. The depth of this haunting characters will not soon be forgotten. ( )
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
The Detour (or Ten White Geese as it is published in the US) is an extremely difficult book to review; instead, it is one that the reader must experience directly, yielding to its ebbs and flows, its offerings and its closures. Gerbrand Bakker is a remarkable writer, and this novel—which just rightfully won this year’s IFFP award—is nothing short of a masterpiece: a painstakingly brutal meditation on illness, isolation, and despair.

At work on a doctoral thesis on Emily Dickinson, an unnamed Dutchwoman—who only names herself “Emilie” halfway through the novel—takes refuge in Wales. Bakker takes his time to allow the natural world’s uncanniness to envelop our protagonist, each short chapter a vignette of the monotonous days spent tackling chores around a solitary cottage with no way to measure the hours except from the position of the sun in winter.

Rife with symbolism, from the diminishing number of geese settled on her land to the intertextual references to Dickinson’s work that underscore key moments in the protagonist’s movement from beginning to end, The Detour can both frustrate and embrace a reader in the same turn, much as the Dutchwoman appears to repeat in her desire for isolation and yet also her all-too-human urges for intimacy and companionship.

This is a novel to savor slowly in order to allow Bakker to carry one along terrain at once stark and beautiful, by turns vast, claustrophobic, and timeless in its dissection of the human condition. ( )
2 vote proustitute | Jul 17, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Ook de rest van de zinnen van De omweg ademen ogenschijnlijke rust. Het zijn kenmerkende, korte zinnen die Bakker schrijft, het liefst met zo min mogelijk komma's. Natuurbeschrijvingen, weersomstandigheden. Zinnen als een herfstwandeling op een vroege ochtend, zinnen van een stilist die precies weet wat hij schrijft en vooral: wat hij achterwege laat. Het is de kunst van het weglaten. 'Verstild' heet dat. Maar die stilte bevindt zich alleen aan de oppervlakte.
In alle boeken van Gerbrand Bakker worstelen de personages zich moeizaam door het leven. In De omweg draait het verhaal om een vrouw die eerst heel lang naamloos blijft, dan Emily lijkt te heten en pas veel later komt de lezer haar werkelijke naam te weten. Voor Bakker heet de vrouw gewoon 'zij'.
added by PGCM | edit8weekly, Frank Heinen (Nov 18, 2010)
 
Ziekte en de naderende dood lijken zeer zware onderwerpen te zijn, maar het lukt Bakker om die zwaarte uit de weg te gaan. Dat heeft voor een deel met de afstandelijke manier van schrijven te maken. Je komt namelijk niet echt te weten wat de vrouw denkt, welke gevoelens zij over haar ziekte heeft. Voor een ander deel is het ontbreken van zwaarte te danken aan de humoristische intermezzo’s waarin de man in Nederland gevolgd wordt. Hij voert wezenloze discussies met zijn schoonouders en krijgt hulp van een agent die niet alleen in de zaak van de verdwijning is geïnteresseerd, maar ook in hem.
added by PGCM | editTzum, Coen Peppelenbosch (Nov 3, 2010)
 
De dood is een thema waar Bakker op subtiele wijze mee omgaat. Emily woont in het oude landhuis van de weduwe Evans, die in datzelfde huis stierf. Constant ruikt Emily de oude vrouw om zich heen, naast zich, in zich. ‘Was het nou de keuken die naar de oude vrouw rook, of zat het toch in haarzelf?’ De symboliek ligt verscholen in Emily’s besef dat zij zelf ook niet het eeuwige leven heeft. In alle romans van Bakker is de dood niet eng, maar heeft het levenseinde iets moois en vredigs.

De omweg van Gerbrand Bakker is weergaloos in subtiliteit en kleinheid. Het zal geen verrassing zijn als zijn nieuwste roman – net als Boven is het stil – veelvuldig vertaald wordt.
 
Dat dit óver haar wordt opgemerkt, verdient enige nuancering. Want hoewel de roman inderdaad in de derde persoon is geschreven, kruipt Bakker intiem onder de huid van zijn personages. Er wordt dus eigenlijk niet over de personages geschreven, ze zíjn er gewoon. Dat heeft iets raadselachtigs. Bakker staat niet uitgebreid stil bij de gevoelens van zijn personages, bij hun voor- of afkeuren, bij hun kwalen en kwaaltjes. Alles lijkt zijdelings te gaan, en dan plotseling zitten we er met ons allen tot over onze oren in. De titel van deze roman klinkt bijna als een programma: via een omweg komt Bakker bij de kern van de zaak.
added by PGCM | editHet Parool, Arie Storm (Oct 1, 2010)
 
Gerbrand Bakker and translator David Colmer won the 2010 Impac Dublin prize with The Twins. Like its predecessor, The Detour is written and translatedwith lapidary precision, perspective and crisp prose; there is emotion and expression, but held back from the writing, which is controlled and full of clean, physical detail, simple and devastating.

Emilie, too, tries to control whatever she can – bringing the wild garden into order, taking pills to manage her pains, clearing the overgrown path, building a shelter to protect the geese – trying, in short, to handle "the situation". But certain things are beyond her control.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gerbrand Bakkerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ecke, AndreasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lundsgaard, BirtheTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pignatti, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Ample make this Bed.
Make this Bed with Awe;
In it wait till Judgment break
Excellent and Fair.

Be its Matress straight,
Be its Pillow round;
Let no Sunrise' yellow noise
Interrupt this Ground.
Dedication
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Op een vroege ochtend zag ze de dassen.
Early one morning she saw the badgers.
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De gans die op het matras zat, liet zijn kop zakken, tot die op haar onderbenen rustte, Het voelde als een touw, een koord dat haar wegtrok, Ik ben een gans geworden, dacht ze.Weg van hier, door het wrakke met teer bedekte puntdak heen, het eiland over; met de voeten vooruit de lucht in, tussen de takken van de bomen en elektriciteitsdraden door. Weer de schelle dageraad van deze stille grond. Met een beetje geluk helemaal naar de top van de berg.
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Book description
The new novel, set in the UK, from the author of the Impac Prize-winning bestseller The Twin.

A Dutch woman, a university English lecturer researching the work of Emily Dickinson, rents a farm in remote, rural Wales. When she arrives, there are ten geese living on the farm, but one by one they disappear. Perhaps it's the work of a local fox. The reason for her move abroad gradually becomes clear: her husband is trying to track her down. Having confessed to an affair with one of her students in Amsterdam, she has quietly fled to Wales from a situation that had become unbearable. Her husband contacts the police and teams up with a detective to go and look for her. They board the ferry to Hull on Christmas Eve. But in the meantime, the woman increasingly seems to be losing her grip on the situation. Gerbrand Bakker has made the territories of isolation, inner turmoil and the solace offered by the natural world his own. The Detour is a gripping and subtle new novel.
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"A woman rents a remote farm in rural Wales. She says her name is Emilie. An Emily Dickinson scholar, she has fled Amsterdam, having just confessed to an affair. On the farm she finds ten geese. One by one they disappear. Who is this woman? Will her husband manage to find her? The young man who stays the night : Why won't he leave? And the vanishing geese? Set against a stark and pristine landscape, and with a seductive blend of solace and menace, this novel of stealth intrigue summons from a woman's silent longing fugitive moments of profound beauty and compassion." --from back cover.… (more)

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