Stefan Hertmans’ imaginative reconstruction of a damaged life across the tumultuous decades of the 20th century; a deeply moving portrayal of family, grief, love and war. Translated by David McKay.

He was born the son of a struggling church painter, who died young. Aged only 13, Urbain begins work in the inferno of an iron foundry. Then comes the Great War, and brutal frontline conflict that will haunt him all his days. Nor can he ever forget his great love, Maria Emelia, who dies tragically in the 1919 flu epidemic, soon after their wedding. The rest is not quite silence, but a second marriage with a sad secret at its heart, and the consolations found in art and painting.

The Man Booker International Prize 2017
Published by
Harvill Secker
Publication date
Stefan Hertmans

Stefan Hertmans

About the Author

Stefan Hertmans is a prizewinning author of many works.
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David McKay

About the Translator

David McKay was born in Syracuse in 1973 and lives in The Hague, the Netherlands.
More about David McKay