Hopscotch Translation Series: W. F. Hermans' AN UNTOUCHED HOUSE

Join us for the second event in our Hopscotch Translation Series,
featuring newly-published works in (and on) translation
and discussions with their translators on the art and importance of translation!


Translator David Colmer reading from and discussing his translation of W. F. Hermans' Het behouden huis (An Untouched House), soon to be released by Archipelago Books—in conversation with Ken Kalfus!

A brooding meditation on violence by a classic post-war Dutch writer who has drawn comparisons to Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut.

Madness abounds in the waning months of World War II, until a weary Dutch Partisan chances upon a luxurious, intact estate in an abandoned spa town. For a time, clean linens and running water replace unremitting bloodshed as the defining features of the nameless narrator’s life; then the Germans retake the village. When they reach his new front door, the Partisan quickly accepts that he must resort to any means to keep the war out. With blunt yet transfixing prose, Hermans confronts his readers with the violent absurdity of war.

About the author

Willem Frederik Hermans (1921-1995) was one of the most prolific and versatile Dutch authors of the twentieth century. He wrote essays, scientific studies, short stories, and poems, but was best known for his several novels, the most famous of which are De tranen der acacias (The Tears of the Acacias, 1949), De donkere kamer can Domecles (The Darkroom of Damocles, 1958), and Nooit meer sleepen (Beyond Sleep, 1966). He received, in 1977, the most prestigious literary award among the Dutch, the Prijs Der Nederlandse Letteren (Dutch Literature Prize).

About the translator (our guest!)

David Colmer is a writer and translator. He translates Dutch literature in a wide range of genres including literary fiction, nonfiction, children’s books, and poetry. He is a four-time winner of the David Reid Poetry Translation Prize, and received the 2009 Biennial NSW Premier and PEN Translation Prize. His translation of Gerbrand Bakker’s The Twin (Archipelago) was awarded the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and he received—along with Gerbrand Bakker—the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for Bakker's novel The Detour.

Ken Kalfus's new collection, Coup de Foudre: A Novella and Stories, has just been published in paperback. He's the author of two previous collections of stories, Thirstand Pu-239 and Other Russian Fantasies. He's also published three novels, The Commissariat of EnlightenmentEquilateral and A Disorder Peculiar to the Country, which was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award. His books have been translated into more than ten foreign languages.

Event date: 
Friday, November 9, 2018 - 6:00pm
Event address: 
Penn Book Center
130 S. 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
An Untouched House Cover Image
By Willem Frederik Hermans, David Colmer (Translated by), Cees Nooteboom (Afterword by)
ISBN: 9781939810069
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Archipelago - October 23rd, 2018

Coup de Foudre Cover Image
ISBN: 9781632863805
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Bloomsbury USA - May 17th, 2016

Who Will Speak for America? Cover Image
ISBN: 9781439916247
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Temple University Press - June 26th, 2018

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