De Avonden (‘The Evenings’) by Gerard Reve is to appear next year in an English edition translated by Sam Garrett and published by Pushkin Press. This Dutch literary classic was first published in 1947 by De Bezige Bij. In 2016 it will be ten years since the author’s death.
De Avonden made its mark with its moving description of life in the Netherlands in the post war years. The main character Frits van Egters is a youth whose life proceeds in pointless monotony and loneliness, kept going by humour and the hope of something greater. The book initially received mixed reactions from critics. While some went as far as to cast doubt on Reve’s mental health, many readers describe the book as one of the best they have ever read.
Reve and England
In 2011, The Low Countries Yearbook published an article on Gerard Reve's English connection. Gerard Reve felt frustrated after his successful debut novel De Avonden. The book sold well but did not produce sufficient income for a decent living. He therefore turned to writing in English. Eventually he realised that his English was not ‘rich' enough. His love for the ‘warm-hearted' English remained. Read the entire article here.
The Dutch Foundation for Literature opened discussions with British publisher Pushkin Press last year. Representatives of Pushkin Press expressed excitement at the acquisition, describing the book as the Dutch equivalent of Camus’ The Outsider, and stating that the publishing house was founded with the aim of bringing this kind of literature to readers of English.
Sam Garrett, one of the most prominent translators of Dutch into English (whose work includes literature by Tommy Wieringa, Herman Koch, Arnon Grunberg and Geert Mak), has long wished to translate the novel and plans to deliver in summer next year for publication in autumn 2016.