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A landmark in magical realism

The Coming of Joachim Stiller

Hubert Lampo

Journalist Freek Groenevelt’s life is thoroughly shaken up by a series of surprising events that seem to all revolve around an individual called Joachim Stiller. Along the way, Groenevelt discovers who Stiller is (a soldier he witnessed being killed in the war), but even then he can’t make head nor tail of all the mysterious twists and turns. Stiller approaches as a kind of Messiah, but Groenevelt never gets any confirmation of his existence.

Beautifully constructed prose, full of suspense and mystery from beginning to end
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The novel is a textbook example of the magic realist style in which reality is interwoven with surreal elements: nothing is exactly as it seems. The classical theme of the quest follows logical steps towards a goal (to find and meet Stiller). Yet, in confrontation with inexplicable events, the story is elevated to another level, resulting in a rebirth of the main character. The hero’s spiritual path parallels an awakening reader’s experience.

The novel has won numerous awards and was filmed by Harry Kümel in 1976.

Our foremost representative of magical realism
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watch a scene from the film 'The Coming of Joachim Stiller'