The Last Rhino (Albrecht en wij)
Lodewijk van Oord, 2014
256 pages, 69.000 words
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NRC Handelsblad review
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The Last Rhino | Albrecht en wij
Lodewijk van Oord

Due to tragic circumstances, the last surviving rhinos live in the Amsterdam zoo. Ambitious manager Edo Morell is determined to save the struggling zoo from its downfall - and he isn’t afraid to make sacrifices.

The cooperation with the South-African rhino-specialist Sariah Malan, who is very much involved with the endangered species, is starting to pay off. But even the zoo is not able to protect the rhinos from the hunters who kill them for their horns. Soon, Albrecht is the last survivor of his species.

Edo considers this to be the perfect opportunity to attract more attention to his zoo. In secret, he develops a series of spectacular events, the first in the Amsterdam Arena football stadium. He ignores Sariah’s animal activism, and plans performances on stages around the world. While they are slowly falling in love, their opinions on Albrecht’s fate grow more and more apart.

In The Last Rhino, humor and harsh reality are beautifully joined. Lodewijk van Oord reveals vital aspects of the contemporary political climate in fascinating scenes in his debut novel. The worse Albrecht is doing, the more urgent becomes the question of whether the end justifies the means. The Last Rhino is a novel that earns its place in current discussions, and is an unbelievable debut by a great literary talent.

Praise for The Last Rhino:

‘A beautifully, humorous and cinematic social criticism of our relationship with animals. The zoo as a metaphor for real life. After George Orwell’s Animal Farm we now have Lodewijk van Oord’s The Last Rhino.’ - De Wereld Draait Door

Praise for The Last Rhino on Dutch television

'The line between a deeply ethical deed and commercial gain is quite thin: that’s the superior irony in The Last Rhino. This makes the novel a splendid form of social criticism: it tells the story of a small issue that sharply pinpoints the current dilemmas. A dramatic ending seems inevitable, but Van Oord balances so delicately between Edo’s master plan and the irony of its consequences, that it stays exciting. And excitement, that’s what people want, right?' - NRC Handelsblad ****

‘A well written, intelligent novel about Artis Zoo. The fragment of director Edo Morrell’s walk through the zoo is the most beautiful literary scenes in Amsterdam of 2014.’ – NRC Handelsblad

‘That Lodewijk van Oord knows South Africa inside out is being made crystal clear in his debut novel. The Afrikaans from his characters is authentic and convincing and he has captured the atmosphere of living in the South African nature wonderfully. Most clever about this novel is the casual alignment of the different human approaches to animals as a phenomenon. Especially the rhino. Through the South African woman Sariah the muddyness, the chilling and deathlike course of events in the Amsterdam zoo have been made tangible. Her noble quest is also a battle within her language, which is a mixture of Afrikaans and Dutch. She battles the smooth and rushing marketing-Dutch from Edo Morrell. A particularly rich novel.’ – Reformatorisch Dagblad

The Last Rhino is a wonderful story about the relation between man and animals and how we deal with preserving them. It raises interesting questions about the importance of preservation and the role of extinction.’ – Recensieweb

‘The book touched me, made me chuckle, made me think and made me read it with a sigh. How wonderful is reading!’ – Boekhandel Stevens, Hoofddorp

‘Hilarious. A well written story and something to think about. With a surprising ending. I am definately going to recommend this book.’ – Van Stockum Bookshop at The Hague

‘The subject is anything but funny, but Van Oord has succeeded in telling the story fleet-footed and humoristic. Interesting and important question are being asked in the novel. The topical book is written with pace and noticeable joy. The scene in which the research team observes two mating rhinos is downright masterful. A writer couldn’t get any closer to the subject of his book. The question whether idealism will triumph over commercialism keeps the reader in its grip until the last pages. The Last Rhino is a masterly debut novel in which humor and emotions go hand in hand. A visit to the zoo will never be the same again.’ – Nederlands Dagblad

‘The ending is a spectacle, in more ways than one. Lodewijk van Oord has a wonderful style of writing and has written a well-constructed novel with a surprisingly good plot. And he casually shares diverse historical details about rhinos in Europe in the book. A very good debut novel, a wonderful style, wonderful plot and a good subject. This is probably not the last good book by this writer.’ – Dutch Library Services

Knaus (Germany)
Das letzte Nashorn

Der Amsterdamer Privatzoo Artis kämpft ums Überleben. Der neue jung-dynamische Direktor Edo Morell will daher aus dem beschaulichen Tierpark ein attraktives „Afrika an der Amstel“ machen, Schwerpunkt bedrohte Nashörner. Dabei soll ihm die südafrikanische Spezialistin Sariah helfen. Die engagierte Tierschützerin weiß, dass diese Tiere sich nur in geschützter Umgebung fortpflanzen. Edo ist zwar auch an Fortpflanzung interessiert – doch er versucht, daraus einen spektakulären Event zu machen. Aus Berlin lässt er den Nashornbullen Albrecht einschweben, den letzten seiner Art. Aber das ganze Unternehmen erweist sich doch als viel komplizierter als gedacht. Nicht nur Albrecht scheint überfordert zu sein.

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Other titles by Lodewijk van Oord:
> The Last Rhino
Everything of Value
Rights sold to:
- Germany (Knaus)
Longlisted for:
- Jan Wolkers Prize 2015
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