Hans Maarten van den Brink was born in Oegstgeest, the Netherlands in 1956. He was the eldest of three sons of a German mother and Dutch father, the latter a psychologist at a psychiatric institution who left the family when van den Brink was ten years old. He later wrote about this experience: »I was naturally sad, but it also increased my capacity for self-help and marked me. Writing is a similar experience – to invent oneself. No one can help you, you must carry it out on your own.«
During his short studies at the University of Leiden van den Brink began writing for the college newspapers. He has been writing for the daily »NRC-Handelsblad« since 1982 and lived in Spain and the USA as a foreign correspondent for many years as well as working as chief editor for the Dutch television station VPRO. A selection of his experiences abroad can be found in three journalistic compilations: »Reis naar de West« (1986; t: Travels towards the West), about the culture of the Dutch Antilles, »Boven de grond in Washington en New York« (1988; t: Above the ground in Washington and New York), reports from the USA during the Reagan era, and »De dertig dagen van Sint Isidoor« (1994; t: The thirty days of Saint Isidor), including observations on bull-fighting.
Following his first novel, »De vooruitgang« (1993; t: The pr ogress), he became well-known with the novella »Over het water« (1998; t: Over the water). The book tells of a fragile happiness during the summer of 1939. The young pr otagonist unexpectedly finds independence from his parental home at a rowing club and with his Jewish friend trains for the Olympic games that fail to take place due to the outbreak of war. Five years later he returns to the club to find nothing but traces of a perished world. The contemplative, ruminative story is characterized by atmospheric images and subtle nuances. It has been translated into many languages and been nominated for the Libris Literatuur pr ijs, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Prix Femina and the Prix Médicis.
Following the novel »Hart van Glas« (1999; t: Heart of glass) which is about an engineer whose dream of a general-purpose glass building collapses along with his romantic relationship, van den Brink published »Reizigers bij een herberg« (2003; t: Travellers at an inn), a book which contains three essays on Spanish food and personal memories of his life in Spain, offering an atmospheric portrait of the country.
Alongside his literary activities van den Brink has also worked as Director of the Centre for Contemporary Art Witte de With in Rotterdam. He has been a freelance editor for the television-art journal »Bonanza« from 2001 to 2002, a cultural and political columnist for the weekly »Vrij Nederland« from 2002 to 2006, and since 2006 Director of the sponsorship fund of the Dutch public radio station. Van den Brink lives in Amsterdam with his wife and three children.
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