Tuesday, January 27, 2009
THE DARKROOM OF DAMOCLES Named Finalist for Best Translated Book of the Year
The Darkroom of Damocles, by Willem Frederik Hermans, has been named one of the ten finalists for the Best Translated Book of the Year by Three Percent. This classic novel is widely considered one of the great masterpieces of post-war literature, and Hermans (1921-1995) is also the author of Beyond Sleep, also published for the first time in the U.S. by Overlook. Before devoting his entire life to writing, Hermans had been teaching Physical Geography at the University of Groningen for many years. He had already started writing and publishing in magazines at a young age. His polemic and provocative style led to a court case as early as 1952. In his novels and stories, Hermans places his characters in a world of certainty for themselves but equivocal for the reader. It is in this field of tension that the intrigue in De tranen der acacia’s (Acacia’s Tears, 1949) and in De donkere kamer van Damocles (The Darkroom of Damocles, 1958) develops. Although stories such as Moedwil en misverstand (Malice and Misunderstanding) and Paranoia have a surrealistic tendency, Hermans’ novels The Darkroom Of Damocles, Nooit meer slapen (Beyond Sleep), Uit talloos veel miljoenen (From Countless Millions) are more realistic or satirical and everything in his rich oeuvre is subordinate to the author’s pessimistic philosophy."