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What happened at a boys’ summer camp in 1980?

European Birds

Bart Koubaa

Four members of a church choir, still boys, spend the summer of 1980 with their choir master on the Dutch island of Texel. Bird watching, the choir master assures the parents. But is that really the whole story? Decades later, Maarten, in the meantime married with three children and working at the Directorate-General Statistics and Economic Information, recognises one of his childhood friends in a missing persons announcement on television. He is overcome with restlessness and goes in search of the man whom he last saw thirty-five years ago.

The writer grabs the reader by the scruff of the neck
De Morgen

Maarten gets so wrapped up in his quest for what happened in the past that he fails to notice how he is becoming estranged from his family and friends. Can we really understand the past? Why do we so readily overlook the factor of chance? This makes ‘European Birds’ a novel where the truth is literally at stake: it is about probability and chance, about letting go and the art of not knowing for sure.

In this novel, Koubaa approaches the style and yearning of Elsschot's best work
De Groene Amsterdammer