Uitgeverij De Geus
ISBN 9789044537871
18e druk

More than 85.000 copies sold.

Awards and nominations

Nederlandse Boekhandelsprijs 2015
ANV Debutantenprijs 2015
Diorapthe Jongerenliteratuur Publieksprijs 2015
Longlist Dublin Literary Award 2016
Brooklyn Book Festival Best Debut Novel 2018


Turkish (Birk) Kahve Yayinlari – Trans: Erhan Gürer (2017)
Czech (Birk) Vysehrad –
Trans: Veronika ter Harmsel Havlíková (2018)
English (You have me to love) World Editions –Trans: David Doherty (2018)
German (Birk) Ars Vivendi Verlag – Trans: Birgit Erdmann (2016)


Producer: NewAms
Script & director: Jenneke Boejink



You have me to love

You have me to love is set on a remote island between Norway and Scotland. Only one family lives there – the nine-year-old Mikael and his father and mother, plus a solitary neighbour. The mail arrives every week by boat. One day fate strikes: Mikael’s father drowns after saving his son from the sea.

It happened by the rock that his mother had often warned him about. The rock I must ‘never- never-never, look at me, never jump off.’ By keeping quiet about what happened, Mikael – who at the time of the fatal event is nine – hopes to change reality. It is some time before the reader learns the truth about what happened. In a penetrating way Robben gets under the skin of a boy who is consumed by guilt, uncertainty about the future and confusion about how to deal with his grieving mother.

NRC Next ***** Telegraaf ***** Het Parool ***** Volkskrant **** De Morgen ****

‘Robben takes chances with his depiction of the erratic Dora’s frustration and her dangerous threat to her son as he matures. There are no concessions to sympathy, although in het unhinged demands she is shockingly, if unacceptably. human. This is a bold, tender and ambivalent narrative, raw and disturbing, with moments of painful beauty.‘ Eileen Battersby – The Irish Times 

“An intense and dramatic novel filled with meticulous use of detail and a forensic psychological accuracy. Its power comes from the fierce energy of the narrative structure, the way of handling silence and pain, and the ability to confront the darkest areas of experience with clear-eyed sympathy and care. Jaap Robben handles delicate, dangerous material with subtlety and sympathy, but also with a visionary sense of truth that is masterly and unforgettable.” Colm Tóibín

‘Robben’s description of the inner world of a child is faultless. As an oppressive story of the premature loss of innocence, Birk is on a par with Niccolo Ammaniti’s I’m Not Scared and Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden. With You Have Me to Love, Jaap Robben delivers a staggering first novel.’ Joukje Akveld -Het Parool *****

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Animation made by Ilse Verheyen inspired by Birk.

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