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De reis van de lege flessen by Kader Abdolah
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De reis van de lege flessen (1997)

by Kader Abdolah

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Title:De reis van de lege flessen
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De reis van de lege flessen by Kader Abdolah (1997)

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Kader Abdolah's first novel, published eight years after he arrived in the Netherlands. Through the eyes of Bolfazl, a political refugee who is living with his wife and young son in a small community on the river IJssel, he explores the contrasts between his Iranian background, where everything was hidden and no-one could risk exposing his life to the neighbours, and the "half-naked society" he finds himself in. This is a book which is obviously meant to give settled people a feel for what it might mean to be transposed involuntarily to a different culture, but it's also a wry and affectionate account of the Dutchness of the Dutch (maybe for that reason it doesn't seem to have pushed as many buttons outside the Netherlands as The house of the mosque).

Whilst his wife launches herself enthusiastically into the community of the local mums, Bolfazl builds up a cautious half-friendship with his neighbour, René. He soon realises that, although he's using René as a handy expert on Dutch culture, his neighbour is even more of an outsider than he is. As Bolfazl gradually becomes more comfortable with his new surroundings, we see René's estrangement from the world increasing almost in parallel. Bolfazl of course doesn't know what is driving René along his self-destructive path, and he's frustrated to see that his own industrious efforts to make contact with Dutch culture are far less effective than the casual intimacy of coffee sessions after the school-run: there's clearly a lot more to this exile business than meets the eye.

A short, touching, and very rewarding novel, beautifully written and acutely observed. ( )
1 vote thorold | Jun 9, 2016 |
Beautiful book about the struggle of an Iranian immigrant trying to pick up his life in the Netherlands. It shows Holland through the perspective of an immigrant. It's therefore a real eye-opener for the native Dutch, and very recognisable for those who were once immigrants themselves. On top of that, the book is written in short and beautiful sentences. ( )
  sanne7788 | Oct 19, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kader Abdolahprimary authorall editionscalculated
Svaluto Moreolo, ElisabettaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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De vluchteling Bolfazi probeert in Nederland een nieuw bestaan op te bouwen. Zijn enige contact met de buitenwereld is zijn buurman René, die ook een buitenstaander blijkt te zijn. Door de werkelijkheid te verbinden met herinneringen uit Iran houdt Bolfazi greep op het leven.
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Story about Bolfazl, an Iranian refugee who builds a new life in the Netherlands.

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