A gripping novel about loss, anxiety and the fight against time.
Loet Zimmerman's life is accurately structured - divided into blocks of fifty minutes each. Forty years he has been setting up the school's timetable. Now that he is retired his biggest challenge lies in structuring the time he has got left.
But then something happens shaking up his controlled existence: On the evening of his farewell party he gets mugged by a teenager, preying on his watch. This attack of violence fundamentally shakes his structured existence and reveals his long suppressed grief over the loss of his beloved wife Lucy.
Zimmerman becomes convinced that his robber is still out there to get him. And when neither the police nor his son Daniel seem to be taking his worries seriously, Zimmerman finds himself constrained to take matters into his own hands.
Karolien Berkvens convinces with impressive dialogues, a keen awareness for the human psyche, a great sense of humor and a precise and distinctive style. Her subtle social criticism and talent to allow the reader a glance behind the seemingly sound façade of normality is reminiscent of 'Het Diner' by Herman Koch.
»ZIMMERMAN'S HOUR is without a doubt the best debut of 2015. It contains composed humor, keen observations, variation in the voice of the characters and a keen psychological insight, all in a style to lick one’s fingers. […] One thing is certain: this debut should definitely not be the end of a prolific career as a literary writer. The Dutch literature needs this new voice that is averse to grotesque exaggeration, sterile shock or soporific navel-gazing. Read this book.«
»We can add The Hour of Zimmerman by Karolien Berkvens to the list of successful debuts this year. […] The Hour of Zimmerman is novel about a wounded creature of habit; about a loss, which the main character is suddenly – now that he’s retired and has the time – painfully aware of; about the consequences of a robbery which may be more far-reaching than most people think; and about the relationship between parent and child.«
Guus Bauer, Tzum
»Karolien Berkvens plays with language in a very skillful way. She writes perfectly smooth prose with short but powerful sentences. The characters are lifelike and given depth beautifully. The events are outlined with strong visual finery. The story’s humor is modest and nicely composed. Occasional phrases in the story are almost poetic [..] Berkvens’ aversion to far-fetched metaphors is what makes the book very readable. The story deals with themes such as senseless violence, fear, traumas and the loss of a loved one. Once the reader has started reading this book, there will be no putting it down. It fascinates until the last page. Berkvens has written a wonderful book of very high quality that deserves five stars.«
***** De Perfecte Buren
»It is a first-rate achievement of Karolien Berkvens to, as a debutante of 29 years old, give such a monumental and nuanced rendition of a 65-year old man in just 175 pages.«
»Karolien Berkvens does surprise us with this debut, this intimate and moving deconstruction of a structured life. Karolien brings the story to life with small, everyday scenes. While reading this story about the loss of control of time, I frequently caught myself losing track of it. In this case, it seems to me that that’s a good sign.«
Dutch original pdf
Karolien Berkvens, born in 1986, studied Theatre at the University of Amsterdam and is the author of several plays. She lives and works in Berlin. ZIMMERMAN'S HOUR is Karolien Berkvens' first novel.