Vondel Translation Prize Shortlist
A gripping academic novel about deception and self-deception, ambition, the love of history as entertainment, and the hunt for the perfect enemy.
Josip Brik, larger-than-life pop philosopher, Hitler studies expert, and TV historian, has always found himself more attracted to the fictional representation of history than to history itself. When Brik falls from a hotel window in Amsterdam, the number one mourner is Friso de Vos, a young academic who has been Brik’s right-hand man. However, Friso is forced to watch from the sidelines as his countryman Philip de Vries, whom he has never heard of, is interviewed again and again in the newspapers, and even on TV, about “his mentor,” Josip Brik. When a large symposium for historians is organized in Vienna, Friso sees his opportunity to set the record straight and begins to impersonate Philip, with dangerous and hilarious results.
With a playful mix of literary and pop culture references, this novel immerses us in the world of the global intelligentsia, where the truth counts for less than what is said about it. Joost de Vries has written a biting academic satire, an absurd and exceptionally intelligent tale.