Van Loon, Karel Glastra 1962-

views updated

Van LOON, Karel Glastra 1962-


Born December 24, 1962, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Home—Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Canongate Books, 14 High St., Edinburgh EH1 1E Scotland; fax: 44131-557-5211. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer, filmmaker, television producer, and educator. Elsevier Science, desk editor, 1983-84; VNU Magazine Publishers, editor, 1984-85; Nieuwe Revu, reporter, 1985-90, staff editor, 1990; freelance journalist, 1991—. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, writer in residence. Researcher and producer for television programs such as Lolapaloeza, Karel, Political Broadcasts Socialist Party, Het laatste woord, and Lopende Zaken,


ECI Prijs voor Schrijvers van Nu (ECI Prize) shortlist, 1998, for Vannacht is de wereld gek geworden; Generale Banke Literatuur Prijs (Generale Bank Literature Prize), 1999, for De Passievrucht.



(With Tiziana Alings) De Beuk Erin (for children), illustrated by Olivier Saive, BSO, 1992.

Vannacht is de Wereld gek Geworden (title means "Tonight the World Has Gone Crazy"), L. J. Veen (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), 1997.

De Passievrucht (novel), L. J. Veen (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), 1999, translated by Sam Garrett as A Father's Affair, Canongate Books (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2002, revised edition, 2003.

Lisa's Adem (novel; title means "Lisa's Breath"), L. J. Veen (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), 2001.

De Onzichtbaren (novel; title means "The Invisible Ones"), L. J. Veen (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), 2003.


De Poppe-methode: Milieu-activist Remi Poppe Ontmaskert de Grote Vervuilers, Jan van Arkel (Utrecht, The Netherlands), 1993.

(With Karin Kuiper) Herman: De Biografie van een Genetisch Gemanipuleerde Stier (title means "Herman: The Biography of a Genetically Engineered Bull"), L. J. Veen (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), 1995.

(With Nico Schouten) Atlas van de Macht, Papieren Tijger (Utrecht, The Netherlands), 1998.

(With Jan Marijnissen) De Laatste Oorlog: Gesprekken over de nieuwe wereldorde (title means "The Last War"), L. J. Veen (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), 2000.

Contributor to periodicals, including Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Vrii Nederland, Volkskrant, and Hollands Maandblad. Van Loon's works have been translated into twenty-nine languages.


De Passievrucht was adapted as a film, 2003.


Dutch writer Karel Glastra Van Loon's books have been bestsellers in his native Netherlands. De Passievrucht, which was translated into English as A Father's Affair, has sold more than 300,000 copies there, which in proportion to the country's population "is the equivalent of 10 million copies in the U.S.," noted a writer for ArborWeb. In A Father's Affair, widower Armin Minderhout and his thirteen-year-old son, Bo, live a quiet but affectionate life together after the death of Monika, Bo's mother and the love of Armin's life, ten years earlier. Armin's job as a freelance proofreader for scientific publications does not pay spectacularly, but they get by, watching movies, talking late into the night, and spending time together. When Armin's girlfriend, Ellen, moves in, they decide that a new baby would make their family complete. Despite repeated attempts, however, Ellen does not get pregnant. A series of medical tests reveals that Armin is sterile, and has been so for his entire life.

The news is devastating to Armin, for the tests mean that he is not and could not be Bo's biological father. Why would Monika, with whom he was deeply and happily in love, betray him? And the most obvious question looms large: if he is not Bo's genetic father, then who is? "Armin is appalled to find himself brooding on the biology of a child he has loved wholeheartedly since birth," wrote Brian Bethune in Maclean's. "But he can't help himself." Faced with a maddening, even humiliating mystery, Armin sets out to discover who fathered the son he thought was his own. Several possible suspects are considered: Monika's doctor; her former boyfriend, Robbert Hubeek; and one of her friends, Nike Neerinckx. The questions are finally and "spectacularly answered," noted Amy Benfer in the New York Times Book Review, but the solution brings an even more shocking surprise to the bewildered Armin.

"The first half of Karel Van Loon's absorbing novel is a beautifully crafted lament for lost love, and a tender paean to a particular kind of parenthood," commented a reviewer in the London Times. "But the shock revelation about the protagonist's faulty chromosomes turns A Father's Affair into a full-on psychological thriller, in which the search for whoever impregnated his dead girlfriend almost drives Armin mad." Benfer remarked that "The novel gains the speed of a good mystery as Armin dutifully gumshoes his way through his former girlfriend's life, seeing her potential lovers at every turn." A Publishers Weekly reviewer stated that "the inventive storyline and the stunning ending combine to make this book a winner." Although Bethune found the conclusion of the novel "slightly ridiculous," he concluded that "the journey there is exhilarating."



Guardian (Manchester, England), July 26, 2003, Josh Lacey, review of A Father's Affair, p. 24.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2003, review of A Father's Affair, pp. 177-178.

Maclean's, June 16, 2003, Brian Bethune, "Voices from Far Away," p. 89.

New York Times Book Review, May 4, 2003, Amy Benfer, review of A Father's Affair, p. 24.

New Zealand Herald, July 9, 2003, Robin Arthur, review of A Father's Affair.

Publishers Weekly, March 31, 2003, review of A Father's Affair, p. 41.

Times (London, England), August 10, 2002, review of A Father's Affair, p. 19; June 14, 2003, review of A Father's Affair, p. 14.


ArborWeb, (April 5, 2004), biography of Karel Glastra Van Loon.

Canongate Books, (April 5, 2004), biography of Karel Glastra Van Loon.

International Network for Cultural Diversity, (April 5, 2004), biography of Karel Glastra Van Loon.

Susijn Agency, (April 5, 2004).*

About this article

Van Loon, Karel Glastra 1962-

Updated About content Print Article