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The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker
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The Twin (2006)

by Gerbrand Bakker

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7856311,730 (3.94)185
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» See also 185 mentions

English (37)  Dutch (23)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  All (63)
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Nederlandse origineel gelezen. Vreemd boek, als een dagboek, geschreven in een telegramstijl: iedere dag een verslag van dezelfde zaken, als het weer, de koeien,de schapen etc in kortaffe zinnetjes. De ik-persoon lijkt vooral niets te willen prijsgeven en alles moet je tussen de regels door zien te lezen. Aan het eind voel je je als lezer buitengesloten: waarom dit verhaal als je toch niets wil vertellen? De hoofdpersoon is niet erg sympathiek: hij verwijt zijn vader dat deze zijn leven verpest heeft, maar hij heeft zelf nooit iets ondernomen om er iets van te maken en doet dat eigenlijk nog niet nadat zijn vader gestorven is. ( )
  stef7sa | Jan 5, 2017 |
Slow-moving story of a Dutch Farmer and his family and friends. Not amazing but OK. ( )
  jerhogan | May 20, 2014 |
This was one of my favourite books of 2009. Bakker parallels the seasonal cycles on a Dutch farm with the physical and emotional changes taking place in the Van Wonderen family. Themes of grief and reconciliation are handled with great subtlety and restraint. This would be a good book club choice. Recommended.
  vplprl | Nov 15, 2013 |
A lifelong bachelor farmer deals with sudden changes in his life, and it becomes quickly obvious he is not a man who would be called a change agent. Bitter but patient, the protagonist in this story lives his life amid the vagaries of Dutch weather, always yearning to see Denmark, symbol of his need for breaking the bonds of a life he never wanted.

Drizzle isn't much more than mist with delusions of grandeur...

Spare. Modest. Melancholy. Affirming. Clear. Concise. This is a book that made me frequently turn back the pages to get a better feel for Helmer, who grows into a new man by the time he sorts out his world. Farm life is portrayed through the winter and spring, and I became completely absorbed in the simple but straightforward sentence structure, as I woke up each day to time my reading with the farmer's early morning feeding of his donkeys and milking of the cows.

The English translation by David Colmer is spot-on...I felt the drizzle on my face and the warm breath of the sheep on my neck. And that, my friend, is writing.

Book Season = Winter (don't know what we want) ( )
  Gold_Gato | Sep 16, 2013 |
Unlike his twin brother Henk, Helmer Wunderer could never seem to measure up in the eyes of his father. So when his brother meets and falls for a local girl, he turns to the hired hand, that his father has recently fired, for friendship and comfort and to assuage his overwhelming loneliness. Then tragedy strikes the family and Helmer’s education at the university in Amsterdam is cut short as he is forced to help run the farm. Fifty years later, the story opens with Helmer carrying his elderly, invalid father to an upstairs bedroom so that he can revamp the downstairs and finally, make this house his own. Quite unexpectedly, he receives a letter from his brother’s old flame, and after a visit she convinces him to take her eighteen year old son on as a farm hand. He arrives with a chip on his shoulder and very little interest in doing any actual work. But in time, his attitude changes, and therein lies the main crux of this story.

That’s what the story is about. This is what the story did. Gerbrand Bakker, through powerful storytelling, slyly draws the reader into the lives of these characters living on this rural farm in Holland. Using spare prose, he dragged me along, quite willingly, through a taut psychological narrative, filled with an underlying rage. I truly felt an incredible sense of place where I could feel the winter chill and smell the first signs of spring.

But it’s the wonderful prose that illuminates this sparse novel:
Coming home doesn’t really help. Coming home after you’ve been somewhere very different is always strange. Is that because everything at home is the way you left it? Whereas you yourself have experienced things, no matter how insignificant, and grown older, even if just by a couple of hours? I see the farm through his eyes: a wet building wet surroundings, with bare, dripping trees, frost-burnt grass, meager stalks of kale, empty fields and a light in an upstairs room. Did I turn on the light or did Father manage it by himself?” (Page 156)
A wonderful novel with the bonus at the end of assuring the reader that a long-held belief in future happiness can arrive unexpectedly even late in life. Highly recommended. ( )
9 vote brenzi | Jul 25, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
This is a novel of great brilliance and subtlety. It contains scenes of enveloping psychological force but is open-ended, its extraordinary last section suggesting that fulfilment of long-standing aspirations can arrive, unanticipated, in late middle-age. Human dramas are offset by landscape and animals feelingly delineated, and David Colmer's translation is distinguished by an exceptional (and crucial) ear for dialogue.
 
There are certain stories that both ask for and reward rereading, and not according to the Great Work of Art notion that demanding, ambitious works like Ulysses and Hamlet sustain multiple engagements over a lifetime. I mean instead that more modest, deceptively simple works tend to reveal their many smaller gems of wisdom and beauty on second, third and even 20th readings. Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead – her luminous novel about an old Kansas preacher’s relationship to his young son and to the changing world around them – and Ernest Hemingway’s Big Two-Hearted River – a pitch-perfect short story about a damaged young man’s effort at a restorative fishing trip in northern Michigan – come to mind.

Gerbrand Bakker’s debut novel, The Twin, while not as accomplished as either of these works, has a similar feel to it. The winner of the 2010 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is unapologetically slow-paced, patient in its revelations, almost ritualistic in its descriptions of quotidian things, melancholic and meditative in its narrative voice and capable, at its best moments, of bringing off remarkably moving and tense passages concerning a middle-aged Dutchman’s fraught relationship to his aged father, a relationship permanently and tragically forged in fracture by the accidental death of the Dutchman’s twin brother – the always preferred son – when they were teenagers.
 
But these men are so silent in the assessment of their own lives, and this is such a sad and bleak story, that no matter how delicate the touch and how subtle the undercurrents, it makes for a sad, bleak read.
 

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gerbrand Bakkerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Colmer, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I've put Father upstairs.
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Book description
Helmer doet zijn vader naar boven; het is tijd om schoon schip te maken. Hij haalt de woonkamer en de voormalige ouderlijke slaapkamer leeg, schildert de boel en koopt nieuwe spullen. Ooit had hij een tweelingbroer, Henk, de lieveling van zijn vader, degene die de boerderij zou overnemen. Maar van de ene op de ander dag werd Helmer tot zijn opvolger gebombardeerd, door vader uit de stad gehaald en onder de koeien gezet. In het drassige laagland, met alleen het snuiven van de koeien en het gemekker van de schapen die de stilte nu en dan doorbreken, verzorgt hij de dieren en zijn oude vader.
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When his twin brother dies in a car accident, Helmer is obliged to return from university life to take over his brother's role on the small family farm, resigning himself to spending the rest of his days with his head under a cow. The novel begins thirty years later with Helmer moving his invalid father upstairs to have him out of the way as he sparsely redecorates the downstairs, finally making it his own. Then one day Riet, the woman who had once been engaged to marry Helmer's twin, appears and asks if she and her troubled eighteen-year-old son could come to live with them on the farm. Ostensibly a novel about the countryside, The Twin is ultimately about the possibility or impossibility of taking life into one's own hands. It chronicles a way of life that has resisted modernity, a world culturally apart yet laden with romantic longing. --Publisher.… (more)

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Archipelago Books

3 editions of this book were published by Archipelago Books.

Editions: 0980033020, 1935744046, 0981987338

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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