cover image Tirza


Arnon Grunberg, trans. from the Dutch by Sam Garrett. Open Letter, $16.95 (471p) ISBN 978-1-934824-69-6

Jorgen Hofmeester has been left by his wife, fired from his job, and had his life savings swallowed up by the folly of international economics. "Sometimes his hugs are too curt, at others too enthusiastic. It's hard to find the right balance," but he can still throw a respectable party with immaculate sushi and sashimi for his daughter's graduation. Bound to his life by sentimentality and fear, Hofmeester is propped up by his upper-class Amsterdam zip code, a generally comfortable life, and the numerous achievements of his favorite daughter, Tirza, from whom he expects the world. But when Tirza announces that she will be going to Africa with her new boyfriend Choukri, who resembles Mohammed Atta, Hofmeester is about to lose the last thing he holds dear. Dutch novelist Grunberg's 2006 work, now finally available in English, begins with preparations for Tirza's party and is relayed by an unreliable narrator cognizant of his own flaws and shortcomings but unable to change his fate. Grunberg's lengthy narrative flows through Hofmeester's obsessive and painstaking attention to superfluous detail, but the story never falls flat, unraveling with humor and poignancy until the end. (Feb)