reads from his award-winning novel, You Have Me to Love, an unforgettable story about lost childhood innocence, isolation, guilt and mother-son relationships.
“An intense and dramatic novel filled with meticulous use of detail and a forensic psychological accuracy. Its power comes from the fierce energy of the narrative structure, the way of handling silence and pain, and the ability to confront the darkest areas of experience with clear-eyed sympathy and care. Jaap Robben handles delicate, dangerous material with subtlety and sympathy, but also with a visionary sense of truth that is masterly and unforgettable.”–Colm Tóibín
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Mikael lives with his parents on an island somewhere between Scotland and Norway. One day Mikael’s father saves him from drowning in the ocean, but is himself thrown against the rocks by a wave and disappears under water. In shock and unable to speak, Mikael blocks out the memory of what took place, silently joining his mother in the search for his missing father. As Mikael’s mother realizes her husband has drowned, the relationship between her and Mikael transforms: she slowly starts to unravel, forcing the son to replace his father in every possible way.
Jaap Robben is a popular Dutch poet, playwright, actor, and children’s author. You Have Me to Love is his first novel. It received glowing reviews in the Dutch press and won the prize for the best Dutch debut novel and the 2014 Dutch Booksellers Award.
Jeroen Dewulf is Director of Dutch Studies at UC Berkeley.