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It Took 70 Years for Dutch Classic ‘The Evenings’ to Make It to U.S. Bookshelves

History By
(Pushkin Press)


First published in the Netherlands in 1947, Gerard Reve’s debut novel The Evenings has been compared to American coming-of-age classics like Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. The Society of Dutch Literature named it the country’s best novel of all time. In short, it’s a must-read. The only problem was it never made it to the U.S.

That is, until now. On Jan. 31, Pushkin Press released the book’s first-ever English translation in the U.S. (England got it a few months prior). According to the publisher, The Evenings follows 23-year-old Frits on a 10-day epic (the main character enjoys telling dirty jokes and sometimes talks to a toy rabbit). As The New York Times notes

“Little mention is made … of the impact of the cataclysmic Second World War that has just ended, or of the Dutch famine (known as ‘the hunger winter’ in the Netherlands) that claimed about 22,000 lives just two years earlier, at the end of the Nazi occupation of the country. The story is nevertheless steeped in a sense of postwar gloom, and the dark humor that pervades the book underscores the difficulty of finding meaning in a world torn asunder.”

For more on the groundbreaking novel we’re only now getting the chance to enjoy, click here. Order a copy here.

—RealClearLife Staff