World Literature Today

The very well respected magazine World Literature Today published a raving review in their autumn edition, written by Yagnishsing Dawoor.

‘There’s a deceptive directness to the book: the story it seeks to tell, that of two brothers finding each other against the odds, is straightforward enough, but its concerns and wonderings are not. Summer Brother is a work of rare intricacy that warrants to be read with all the seriousness one can muster.’ World Literature Today.




Shortlist nomination Jan Wolkersprijs

Biography of a Fly has been shortlisted for the Dutch Jan Wolkersprijs.

The Jan Wolkersprijs is an literary award for the best nature book of the year. And a collaboration between de Volkskrant, WNF and Radio 1 program Vroege Vogels.

Here you can watch the booktrailer made by WorldEditions.

The other nominees are:

  • De onderwereld van de tuin – Romke van de Kaa – Uitgeverij Atlas Contact
  • Terra Ultima – Raoul Deleo – Uitgeverij Lannoo
  • De Poel – Pauline de Bok – Uitgeverij Atlas Contact
  • De Ontdekking van de natuur – Hans Mulder – Uitgeverij Terra

London, Cheltenham & Sheffield (UK)

In October Jaap Robben will visit the UK for a short booktour.

12 oktober Flanders House – London (Together with author Lize Spit)

14 oktober Cheltenham Literature Festival – Cheltenham (Together with author Jodie Chapman)

16 oktober Off the Shelf Festival – Sheffield

This tour is part of New Dutch Writing.

Elizabeth Strout about Summer Brother!



Hilary Mantel about Summer brother

Summer brother is an impressive novel: a deceptively simple story of lives at the margin, with a child’s viewpoint perfectly pitched and sustained, it is cleanly written and powerfully imagined.

It reminded me of Clare Keegan’s novella FOSTER, which has a girl narrator of a similar age, and is an outstanding book. But the challenges are greater here, as Robben deals with all kinds of inflammable material, and does it with such tact and understanding.’ Hilary Mantel


Review in The Observer – The Guardian

Summer Brother (the translation of Zomervacht, published by World Editions) just got a raving review in The Guardian and The Observer!

‘Humorous and shrewd novel… evocative coming-of-age novel…’ ‘astute characterisations.’

‘Robben depicts the limitations of a dysfunctional family but also celebrates empathy as a force for good.’ (Lucy Popescu) The Observer

Here you can read the complete review.

‘Master of Moral Ambivalence’

The website ‘The Low Countries‘ just published an extensive article written by journalist and editor Ken Lambeets about both Jaap Robben’s novels Summer Brother and You have me to love.

‘After the auspicious debut You Have Me to Love, Robben does not seem to be burdened by the author’s curse of the second book. And unlike many of his peers, it is clear that he needn’t draw all too much inspiration from his own life for his stories. This should make for a promising third book’ – (Ken Lambeets) The Low Countries

Longlist International Booker Prize 2021

Amazing news! Summer Brother is selected for the longlist of the International Booker Prize 2021! It feels like someone surprised me with a completely unexpected birthday. And gave me a fantastic storm as a present!

‘A deeply humane novel centred on a disabled man, his heroic younger brother and an unreliable, partly criminal father living on an all but derelict site. The book is generous to all its flawed characters, is beautifully written and humanises lives of abject poverty on the edge of squalor and disaster.’ – Jury of the International Booker Prize 2021

Summer Brother is published by World Editions and translated by David Doherty. The book was planned for May, but will be available in the bookstores at the 8th of April.

Summer Brother in The New York Times

Just a few days after Summer Brother was published by WorldEditions in the US and Canada, The New York Times published this raving review.

‘Robben is wonderful at drawing characters with just a few deliberate strokes. One standout description comes in a passing reference to Maurice’s mother: “In my memory, smoke came out of her mouth even when she didn’t have a cigarette between her lips. There was always something smoldering inside her.”

Most fascinating to Robben, however, are the prickly relationships between men, which oscillate between moments of tenderness and brutality before reaching a painful climax. Robben depicts men who regularly cycle between carelessness, cruelty and compassion, which makes Brian’s ultimate rank-breaking toward benevolence all the more uplifting.

Like a photographer shooting a portrait, Robben captures his subjects in “Summer Brother” in a focused close-up. It’s intimate, even claustrophobic at times, just as life must be for an isolated boy like Brian, looking with wonder to the lights on the hill.’ The New York Times (Tacey Rychter)

The Riveter – British Library

On March 29th Jaap will appear in the online event of the British Library at the launch of the Dutch Riveter. Together with Simone Atangana Bekono, Karin Amatmoekrin and Sam Garrett.

Hosted by Rosie Goldsmith and with live music from singer-songwriter VanWyck, and live drawing by illustrator and political cartoonist Henny Beaumont.

Part of New Dutch Writing, supported by The Dutch Foundation for Literature.

Translation ‘Das Neinhorn’

Almost everyone did something during the lockdown months that they didn’t get around to before. Jaap translated the picture book ‘Das Neinhorn’ (The No-corn) – by German author Marc-Uwe Kling and illustrator Astrid Henn – into Dutch. It’s a book that cannot be compared to any other picture book and is bound to put a smile on your face.

The book sold over 100,000 copies in Germany and in the Netherlands the book is also making quite a splash. In three months more than 10.000 copies have been sold.

‘An exceptionally humorous picture book. Jaap Robben has made a magnificent translation.’ Friesch Dagblad

To Poland with the silencemen

The 18-part series Po Polska appeared in Trouw newspaper, where Jaap wrote about the ‘silencemen’ a.k.a. the four Polish handymen who helped renovate his house. To conclude his quest for contact, Jaap travelled home with them to Poland in December 2019, to meet their families. A kind of driving-home-for-Christmas experience in a speeding Polish handyman van.

Google Maps