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The Queen's Visit (Juni) Gerbrand Bakker, 2009
272 pages, 75.000 words
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Review in The Independent
Review in the Irish Times
Harvill's Book of the Month
Sample translation
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For full German manuscript, contact molegraaf@cossee.com
 
 
The Queen's Visit | Juni
Gerbrand Bakker

During a visit from Queen Juliana to a village in North Holland a tragic accident occurs which many years later still divides the Kaan family. In his masterful second novel Gerbrand Bakker creates a vivid portrait of this remarkable family and the farm where they have lived for generations.

On a summer’s day, June 17th 1969, everyone is gathered in front of the Polderhuis to welcome Queen Juliana. The young sons of farmer Kaan wave their flags enthusiastically. Just as the monarch is getting into her car to leave, their mother and little Hanne arrive late – the Queen strokes the little girl’s cheek and regally offers Anna Kaan her hand. It would have been an unforgettable day of celebration if only the baker hadn’t been running late with his deliveries and knocked down little Hanne, playing on the roadside, with his brand-new VW van.

Years later Jan Kaan arrives from the island of Texel on a hot day in June in order to tidy his sister’s grave, and is overcome again with grief and silent fury. Isn’t it finally time to get to the bottom of things? Should the permit for the grave be extended again? And why won’t anyone explain his little niece Dieke why grandma has been lying on hay in the shed for a day and a half nursing a bottle of eggnog and refusing to see anyone?

'The event hanging over Gerbrand Bakker's watchful new novel is, as he writes near the end of the book, "the kind of story that lasts a person's whole life". Bakker's prose is as straight and constrained as the Dutch flatlands, and full of painful detail. The rusty ironwork on a balcony railing crumbles to the touch, the pages of a notebook feel brittle in the dry air. Everything on the farm, from the sheep waiting to be buried to the clapped-out car disintegrating in the field, goes uncared for, suspended by a terrible lethargy. The novel's strength is its parched stillness. Bakker conjures the attenuated atmosphere of an endless summer day - the one the members of a family are living through now, and the one four decades ago that still has them in its grip. This is a tender and traumatic portrait, showing how the past is not a foreign country.' - The Economist

Praise for The Queen's Visit:

The Queen’s Visit is a worthy successor of The Twin. Bakker’s latest is beautifully streamlined, typically Dutch novel. And the characters communicate as indirectly as the author reveals their inabilities. With that approach the reader is subtly and painfully suffering with them’ – Telegraaf

‘The way the Kaan family is described is very impressive and deeply moving. The Queen’s Visit is a heartbreaking novel, written is an specific style by an author who has everything to conquer an unique spot in Dutch literature. And secure it’ – Dagblad van het Noorden

‘Bakker shows his mastery in atmospheric descriptions. He is a true writer who can evoke a landscape like no other’ – Trouw

‘Much better than The Twin’ – Arie Storm in Tros Nieuwsshow

‘If you fail to see the qualities in The Queen’s Visit, you would have to be blind as a critic. This is the best book I have read this year’ – Literair Nederland
 
 
Gyldendal (Denmark)
Juni

En varm junidag 1969. Den hollandske dronning Juliana besøger sit folk, og alt står på den anden ende. I en lille by står familien Kaan midt i tummelen. Deres datter får dronningen til at standse op og stryge hendes kind. Her begynder historien, og fyrre år efter slutter den.   40 år efter er der stille på familien Kaans gård. Tre generationer lever sammen.

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Harvill Secker (United Kingdom)
June

A visit from the Queen, a tragic accident, a divided family: a masterful new novel from the prize-winning Gerbrand Bakker. On a hot summer’s day in June 1969 everyone is gathered to welcome Queen Juliana. The young boys and girls wave their flags enthusiastically. But just as the monarch is getting into her car to leave, little Hanne Kaan and her mother arrive late – the Queen strokes the little girl’s cheek and regally offers Anna Kaan her hand.

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Iperborea (Italy)
Giugno

Nelle piatte campagne dell’Olanda del nord tutti ricordano quel 17 giugno del 1969, quando la regina Giuliana venne in visita ufficiale. L’intero paese in festa accolse la vivace sovrana insofferente all’etichetta, che dopo un bicchiere di troppo si fermò ad accarezzare la figlia di una contadina. Quella mamma era Anna Kaan e proprio in quel giorno carico di promesse avrebbe vissuto la più atroce tragedia.

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Scribe (Australia)
June

A visit from the Queen, a tragic accident, a divided family: a masterful new novel from the prize-winning Gerbrand Bakker. On a hot summer’s day in June 1969 everyone is gathered to welcome Queen Juliana. The young boys and girls wave their flags enthusiastically. But just as the monarch is getting into her car to leave, little Hanne Kaan and her mother arrive late – the Queen strokes the little girl’s cheek and regally offers Anna Kaan her hand.

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Suhrkamp (Germany)
Juni

Die Königin kommt. Und das Dorf im nördlichsten Zipfel der Niederlande steht kopf. Mitten drin im Trubel dieses Junitages 1969 ist die Familie Kaan. Zwei der Söhne schwenken Fähnchen vor dem Gemeindehaus, und der kleinen Tochter auf dem Arm ihrer Mutter Anna streicht Königin Juliana höchstpersönlich über die Wange.

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Suhrkamp (Germany)
Tage im Juni (paperback)

Gerbrand Bakker erzählt so wortkarg wie wortstark von einem Dorf, einem Hof, einem tragischen Unfall, vor allem aber von einer Familie, in der jeder auf andere Weise mit Erinnerung und Verlust umgeht. Eine berührende Geschichte.

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Other titles by Gerbrand Bakker:
 
The Twin
> The Queen's Visit
The Detour
Pear Trees Blossom White
Donkey, Sheep and Redshank
Winter Book
 
 
 
Rights sold to:
   
- Australia (Scribe)
- Denmark (Gyldendal)
- France (Gallimard)
- Germany (Suhrkamp)
- Italy (Iperborea)
- UK (Harvill Secker)
 
 
 
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