First day of sale: 25.08.2004
JOHN VON DÜFFEL
“I don’t know this man”, Christian de Houwelandt replies when he is asked to hold the speech to his grandfather’s, the patriarch’s, eightieth birthday.
Familiy history as history of generations: John von Düffel tells in his new novel with dramatic refinement of the de Houwelandt family – he tells of four moving figures from three generations.
Grandfather Jorge, an ascetic God-seeker is now heading towards his eightieth birthday after he lived his life at the side of his wife Esther with merciless pride. The two Houwelandts exchanged the family residence in the North of Germany with the Spanish coast – as it “was the sea which Jorge needed”. The abandoned 19th century family home is administered by the first-born, his son Thomas who is on the verge to be crushed by the paternal stubbornness. His only son Christian, “first-born of the first-born” rarely ever met the grandfather and wants to avoid all family business with its mendacities, entanglements and embarrassments. Jorge’s wife Esther is planning to celebrate the patriarch’s birthday in Germany to gather once again the dispersed family. The closer the party comes the more desperate the de Houwelandts struggle for their own truth, for past justice and injustice.
Jorge and Esther, Thomas and Christian and their wives have to learn that their truth only is one version of the truth. Behind the reciprocal attacks and dissociations of the generations the common roots and patterns, which are hidden from the individual perception, become visible.
Houwelandt tells in gripping prose of a family’s quest for clarity and truth in times, in which the individual only gradually learns anew to understand what a life spanning generations can mean.
Rights sold to:
France (Albin Michel), Korea (Dulnyouk Publishing), Bizim (Turkey)
John von Düffel was born in Göttingen in 1966, he works as a dramaturge at Deutsches Theater Berlin and is pro-fessor of scenic writing at the Berlin University of the Arts. He has published novels and story col-lections with DuMont since 1998, including 'Vom Wasser' (1998), 'Houwelandt' (2004), 'Was-sererzählungen' (2014), 'Das Klassenbuch' (2017), 'Der brennende See' (2020) and most recently 'Wasser und andere Welten' (new edition 2021). His works have been awarded numerous prizes, including the aspekte Literature Prize and the Nicolas Born Prize.