Lucette ter Borg

Lucette ter Borg was born in Amsterdam in 1962. She studied Slavonic studies and history of education at the university in her home city and worked as an art critic for the well-known daily newspapers »NRC Handelsblad« and »Volkskrant«. She then became Editor-in-Chief for arts and culture for the weekly »Vrij Nederland«.

In 2004, her first novel, »Het cadeau uit Berlijn« (t: The gift from Berlin), was published. It tells the story of estate agent Andreas Landewee, who in 1976, at the age of 76, decides to leave Germany. He wants to start a new life in the Canadian wilderness with his favourite son, Wolfgang, only taking the most essential things with him: clothes, books, his hunting rifles, his LPs – and the Bechstein grand piano that had belonged to his late wife and which he guards as a treasure.

Through flashbacks, a family portrait gradually emerges against the backdrop of Germany’s turbulent history in the first half of the twentieth century. The novel is at the same time the character study of a music lover, as sorely afflicted as he is egocentric, who silently and capriciously maintains an openness to new beginnings. »Nothing is explained because every element speaks for itself. Ter Borg has the marvellous ability to portray other lives in detail without appropriating them: it is the distance with which she treats her complex characters that enables the readers to connect and empathise with them«, wrote Barbara Garde.

What began as a chronicle of her own family, which she proceeded to trace in the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Russia, Canada and Bosnia, the novel emerged as a clear, unpretentious reflection of the speechless and vague shame of Germany’s Nazi past. »Het cadeau uit Berlijn« was awarded the Prize for best Dutch first novel.

Most recently, the author edited the catalogue of the art project »World One Minutes« – in which 300 one-minute-long videos from ninety countries are presented – including contributions by Cees Nooteboom, Yuri Andrukhovytch, Maxim Biller, Julio Llamazares and Silke Scheuermann. Ter Borg is currently working on her latest book. She lives in Amsterdam.

© international literature festival berlin