Hella S. Haasse’s classic novel finally published in Britain


Hella S. Haasse’s 1948 novella Oeroeg, a chronicle of colonial life in the Dutch East Indies, has finally appeared in an English translation. Published by Portobello Books under the title The Black Lake, the work has already won widespread praise in the British press. Writing in The Scotsman, the novelist Michael Pye said that the novel “is mesmirisingly lovely and then it is suddenly shocking; you have to react. After 60 or more years, and in a quite different world, it is still a wake-up call.” A reviewer in The Independent said, “This is a writer more interested in shades of grey than black and white.” This is the second book by Haasse published by Portobello Books. In 2010, the Granta subsidiary published Haasse’s Heren van de thee under the title The Tea Lords. In a review, The Guardian lamented the fact that it had taken so long to bring the book to an English-speaking readership. “We have been the losers;” it said, “it is exactly her unflashy quality that is remarkable, the way her stories derive an unostentatious strength from her steady, irresistible immersion in her characters’ lives.” Hella S. Haasse died in 2011 at the age of 93. This year’s edition of The Low Countries Yearbook featured an article on Haasse’s work.

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