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Geeraerts, Jef 1930-

Geeraerts, Jef 1930-
(Claus Trum)


Born February 23, 1930, in Antwerp, Belgium; married; children. Education: Graduated from Flemish Non-Denominational University of Brusses (VUB).


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Prometheus/Bert Bakker/Vassallucci, Herengracht 507 1017 BV, Amsterdam, Postbus 1662, 1000 BR, Amsterdam, Netherlands.


Writer and editor. Niew Vlaams Tijdschrift magazine, editor; lived and worked as a colonial administrator and assistant regional manager in the Belgian Congo, 1954-60.


State literary prize, 1969, for Gangreen.


Ik ben maar een neger (title means "I Am but a Negro"), P.N. van Kampen (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1961, translation by Jon and Marianne Swan published as Black Ulysses, Viking Press (New York, NY), 1978.

Schroot, Van Kampen (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1963.

Zonder clan, Van Kampen (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1964.

De troglodieten; erhalen, Manteau (Brussels, Belgium), 1966.

Het erhall van Matsombo, Manteau (Brussels, Belgium), 1966.

De zeven doeken der schepping, Manteau (Brussels, Belgium), 1967.

Indian Summer, Manteau (The Hague, Netherlands), 1969, reprinted, 1986.

Tien brieven random liefde en dood, Elsevier (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1971.

Verhalen (short stories), Manteau (Brussels, Belgium), 1973.

Reizenmet Jef Geeraerts, Manteau (Brussels, Belgium), 1974.

Dood in Bourgondië, Manteau (Brussels, Belgium), 1976.

De heilige kruisvaart, Manteau (Brussels, Belgium), 1976.

Gedachtenvan eenlinkse bourgeois, Nijgh & Van Ditmar (Antwerp, Belgium), 1977.

De zaak Jespers, Manteau (Brussels, Belgium), 1978.

Kodiak .58, Elsevier Manteau (Brussels, Belgium), 1979, reprinted, Manteau (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1995.

De Coltmoorden: politiethriller, Elsevier Manteau (Brussels, Belgium), 1980.

Jagen, Elsevier Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1981.

Diamant: thriller, Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1982.

Drugs: misdaadroman, Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1983.

De trap: misdaadroman, Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1984.

De zaak Alzheimer: misdaadroman (title means "The Alzheimer Affair"), Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1985.

Marcellus, Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1985.

Gesprekken, Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1987.

Romeinse suite: misdaadroman, Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1987.

Zand: misdaadroman, Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1988.

Sanpaku, Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1989.

Het huis genaamd "Les Hêtres": misdaadverhalen, Manteau (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1989.

Double-face: misdaadroman, Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1990.

op avontuur met Jef Geeraerts, Manteau (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1992.

Z 17: misdaadroman, Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1992.

Het Rashomon-complex: misdaadroman, Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1992.

Achtein verhalen, Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1992.

De goede moordenaar, Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1993.

De Cu Chi case: misdaadroman, Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1993.

De nachtvogels, (title means "Night Birds"), Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1994.

Het Sigmaplan: misdaadroman, Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1995.

Goud (title means "Gold"), Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1995.

Brieven, Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1996.

De PG, Prometheus (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1998.

De ambassadeur, Prometheus (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 2000.

Dossier K, Prometheus (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 2002.


Gangreen, Manteau (Brussels, Belgium), 1967, reprinted as Gangreen I [i. e. een] Black Venus, 1970, translation by Jon Swan published as Gangrene, Viking Press (New York, NY), 1975.

De goede moordenaar, Manteau (Antwerp, Belgium), 1993.

Gangree: de cyclus, Meulenhoff/Manteau (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 2003.

Other books in the "Gangreen" series include Gangreen 3 (Het Teken van de Hond) and Gangreen 4 (Het Zevende Zegel).

Also author of an erotic novel under the pseudonym of Claus Trum. Works have been translated into German, Italian, and French.


Author's works have been adapted for television and film, including De zaak Alzheimer: misdaadroman, titled in English as The Memory of a Killer, MMG, c. 2003.


Jef Geeraerts is a Dutch novelist known for both his literary and crime novels and also his ability to combine the two genres. His first novel, the controversial Ik ben maar een neger, which means "I Am but a Negro," was translated into English as Black Ulysses. In it, the author draws from his own experience as a colonial administrator in the Belgian Congo. The novel follows a black physician, Grégoire Matsombo, who serves with a rebel army in the Belgian Congo following its liberation. The colonial-educated Matsombo ultimately falls into the savage ways of an unruly country. He tells his story to a white doctor after stealing money and leaving the Congo for Spain. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that what the author "does best is capture the atmosphere and tensions of a troubled nation." Writing in Booklist, a reviewer noted Geeraerts "stark prose," calling it "a slap in the face."

The author made a wide impression and received numerous accolades for his novel Gangreen, the first of what would be a quartet published over the next several years. Like his first novel, Gangreen also was controversial, to the point that it was banned in Belgium for a time by the Ministry of Justice. The novel tells about the end of a way of life in the Belgian Congo. The novel's misogynistic white narrator is a married colonial administrator who begins leading a life of debauchery, including sexual dalliances, drinking, and drug use. The story unfolds over the final five years of Belgium's influence in the Congo, with the protagonist ultimately fleeing and callously leaving behind his terminally ill mistress.

Writing in the Listener, Neil Hepburn called the novel "a compelling, terrible and deeply disturbing text upon the darkness in the heart of man and the anguish with which it bleeds." Valentine Cunningham, writing in the New Statesman, referred to the novel as "an attractive and unsimplistic swipe at Belgian colonialism," adding that "the narrative stays surprising to the end." Leonard Forester noted in Dutch Crossing that the first two books of the "Gangreen Quartet" focus on life in the Belgian Congo prior to 1960 and the country's independence, while the second two books focus on the administrator's life in Belgium that takes place prior to the first two books. Forester went on to note: "What binds the first two volumes together is the absorbing interest of Jef's relationships with Africans. It comes out between the lines that he knows a great deal about them." Forester also noted that books three and four of the quartet "give the Belgium background: the childhood in lower middle class Antwerp, no horizon, self-righteous, establishment-minded, pro-German under the occupation, externally honest, secretly corrupt."

In Goud, which means "Gold," the author once again focuses on the Belgian Congo of the 1950s and features a Colonial administrator, who this time marries a black native woman without divorcing his Belgian wife. The administrator's seemingly idyllic life is interrupted by the discovery of gold. The story is told many years later and interspersed with the narrator's later life. Writing in World Literature Today, Ludo Stymen noted "the author's professional skill at creating superb jungle and hunting scenes, at making the transient moment palpable, and at describing persons, situation, and nature in a sensory way."



Booklist, January 1, 1972, review of Indian Summer, p. 382; July 1, 1976, review of Verhalen, p. 1515; May 15, 1978, review of Black Ulysses, p. 1475.

Dutch Crossing, autumn, 1992, Leonard Forster, "Jef Geeraerts' Gangreen Quartet: Introduction to a Flemish Novelist," pp. 61-72.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 1978, review of Black Ulysses, p. 323.

Listener, August 21, 1975, Neil Hepburn, review of Gangrene, p. 254.

New Statesman, July 25, 1975, Valentine Cunningham, review of Gangrene, p. 118.

New York Times Book Review, April 17, 1975, Martin Levin, review of Gangrene, p. 34.

Publishers Weekly, April 24, 1978, review of Black Ulysses, p. 79.

Times Literary Supplement, August 29, 1975, Jane Miller, review of Gangrene, p. 961

World Literature Today, fall, 1996, Ludo Stynen, review of Goud, p. 972.


Jef Geeraerts Home Page, (June 10, 2006).

NLPVF, (June 10, 2006), brief biography of author.

Sony Pictures Classics, (June 10, 2006), brief biography of author.

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