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The Field (En de akker is de wereld) Dola de Jong, 2015
272 pages, 76.000 words
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For more information, and the full English translation, contact rieck@cossee.com
 
 
The Field | En de akker is de wereld
Dola de Jong

After the international success of Ida Simons, Cossee Publishers presents another wonderful rediscovery of Dutch literature.

A Dutch couple, Aart and Lies, flees the Netherlands just before the outbreak of the Second World War. On their way to the south they take in several children who lost their parents during their flight. They end up in Tangier. On a piece of barren ground they try to survive, while the Arabs watch them with pity.

The family lives in poverty and they won’t get any help from the consul, because they are not officially refugees. They left the country before the war started. The wife of the consul occasionally comes by to bring them clothes.

The future does not look bright for this family: the children are feeling homesick and the field produces too little. When Aart gets arrested because of a misunderstanding, eighteen-year-old Hans takes matters into his own hands. However, he forgets Tangier is full of Nazi spies and takes great risks. The Field shows the disruptive effect of war on the lives of refugees.

Praise for The Field:

‘The Field is still magnificent. It is an illustrative and delicate sketch. A harsh reality written in a light tone. Hopefully this rediscovery will be a success and will be followed by more reissues of her novels.’ – Trouw

‘The beautiful reprint, with the original cover, of Dola de Jong’s most famous and most impressive novel will hopefully makes her better known. This book leaves you flabbergasted and it almost physically hurts. An unambiguously allegation against the faith of children in wartime.’ – Dagblad van het Noorden *****

‘Dola de Jong deserves to be rediscovered. The novel is deeply moving. De Jong draws a breathtaking image of a time that is not in the least of the past when it comes to the inadequate treatment of refugees. Another reason why she deserves to be rediscovered.’ – de Volkskrant ****

‘De Jong has a lot to offer: atmospheric images of Africa, exciting entanglements, distressing episodes, political backgrounds, conflicting worldviews and many cynical asides.’ – NRC Handelsblad ****

‘Luckily Dola de Jong gets another change from publisher Eva Cossée, because her debut The Field is still magnificent. It is an illustrative and delicate sketch. A harsh reality written in a light tone. It reads as a Nobody’s Boy for adults, more distressing than sad, very clearly demonstrating loneliness, helplessness, and fear. The trauma of the lost home, survival against all odds. The meandering style of writing communicates the chaos of wartime all the better. Hopefully this rediscovered book will be a success, and will be followed by more reissues of De Jong’s novels.’ – Trouw

‘To make wasted strength, wasted lives, wasted water, wasted sunshine, and wasted desire tangible and visible, without wasting words is in my opinion an extraordinary skill, and you have it.’ – Leo Vroman

‘The beautiful reprint, with the original cover, of Dola de Jong’s most famous and most impressive novel, will hopefully makes her better known. For this book leaves you flabbergasted and it almost physically hurts. An unambiguous allegation against the faith of children in wartime.’ – Dagblad van het Noorden *****

‘Dola de Jong deserves to be rediscovered. The novel is deeply moving. De Jong draws a breathtaking image of a time that, when it comes to the inadequate treatment of refugees, is by no means history. Another reason why she deserves to be rediscovered.’ – de Volkskrant ****

‘De Jong has a lot to offer: atmospheric images of Africa, exciting entanglements, distressing episodes, political backgrounds, conflicting worldviews and many cynical asides.’ – NRC Handelsblad ****

‘A beautiful rediscovered novel about European refugees in Morocco. Nowadays everybody wants to enter fortress Europe, but in the 1940’s the flow of refugees went the other way. European refugees were eager to go, for instance, to Morocco, away from the Nazi violence. On the surface it is a bright and romantic story set in colorful Tangier. The writing is dreamy and pretty, but it has a distinct cynical undertone. Dola de Jong’s own experience as a refugee is reflected in this novel that is nothing like an exotic road trip in which idealism is rewarded. On the contrary: the influence of the Gestapo reaches far, the Dutch consul is not to be trusted, and the most honest of people have to endure the most. As thrilling as it is shocking.’ – Elsevier ****

‘No bombastic language, but subtle descriptions in De Jong’s novel. Even when the children are talking, the language is lively and even, with an extremely powerful undertone. The refugees’ despair, the fear of treason, and the uncertainty seep through the pages. It is written with a remarkable lightness, not to be confused with naivety. Dola de Jong is an author who is able to create genuine characters and to give a clear insight in the human psychology, without overdoing it. The Field is the story of the refugee who is not able to do anything but simply exist. A convincing complaint against war violence and the treatment of refugees. The lighter the description of the misery, the harsher the impact. Dola de Jong also published a children’s book, Return to the Level Land, and The Tree and the Vince, a lesbian love story in 1954. She was ahead of her time. You understand: reissue!’ – Guus Bauer, Tzum.info

‘The Field was published in 1947, but is nonetheless a book of the present time. It leaves an alarming impression about the flow of immigrants and the desperate attempts of the refugees to build a new life. The perceptiveness makes the novel thrilling. The point of view changes quickly, from omniscient narrator to one of the children or secondary characters. This provides the story with something universal and makes the distress of the refugees tangible. All kinds of ways to approach the same thing are explored. The Field indeed offers a view of the entire world. The consequence is that the characters come across as powerful, each one of them, despite their suffering. Pity gets no chance, the characters are too steadfast and headstrong. And that is exactly what makes them so beautiful. From time to time, while reading De Jong’s novel, the rediscovered and highly praised A Foolish Virgin by Ida Simons came to mind. It is also written in a bare and serene style and it is also about a child and war. The Field is a lot more cynical than Simons’ novel. It is harsher and therefor more fascinating. De Jong’s novel crackles. She puts everything into perspective with a sharp, quirky sense of humor. You start to wonder why this novel disappeared from the literary annals and why the name of the author does not ring a bell anymore. For her other great novel (a lesbian love story) and children’s stories are impressive as well. The Field was published in America, where she was called a modern Flaubert, in 1945, and is still in print. However, in the Netherlands, this novel has been collecting dust for many years now. It is about time they dug it back up.’ – Fleur Speet, Athenaeum.nl

‘I enjoyed this exceptional and timeless novel. The story about the displaced refugee is of all times, and the lively and sparkling way of writing is far from out-dated, even after seventy years.’ – Marieke Cobelens, Book store De Dolfijn

‘This moving novel of loss, betrayal and survival, originally published in the USA in 1945 and edited by Maxwell Perkins (editor of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald) won the National Prize for Literature in Holland in 1947. Aart and Lies, a young married couple, flee Holland as war sweeps through Europe. They land near Tangiers and attempt to farm some inhospitable soil with the help of a collection of refugee children they have gathered along the way. Each meets the incredible challenge of the new life in a matter-of-fact fashion and carefully picks a way through the tenuous days, struggling for food and shelter. The Field survives the years well, never seems dated, and remains a powerful indictment of the horror and corruption of war.’ – Publishers Weekly

‘Will not easily fade from the mind. Calm and dispassionate, without a touch of ranting, it is a terrific indictment of modern war.’ – The New York Times

‘Of all the books to come out of World War II, none reveal with such terrifying clarity the nature of demoralization. Written with a realism that suggests Flaubert. A beautiful job of writing.’ – Associated Press

 
 
 
Rights sold to:
   
- Arabic Rights (Al Kotob Khan, Egypt)
- Czech Republic (Pistorius & Olsanska)
- Denmark (Turbine)
- Germany (Kunstmann)
- Norway (Aschehoug forlag)
- Latvia (Jumava)
- Sweden (Nilsson förlag)
 
 
 
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