22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Tomas Lieske

Tomas Lieske was born in The Hague in 1943. Initially, he worked as a teacher, publishing his texts at the age of 38 in the literary magazines »De Revisor« and »Tirade«, the latter of which he later became editor. A selection of his poetical essays from this period appeared in 1989 under the title »Een hoofd in de toendra« (t: A head in the Tundra). Only two years earlier his poetic debut, »De ijsgeneraals« (1987; t: The Ice Generals) had been published, this was followed by the volume of poetry »Een tijger onderweg« (1989; t: A Tiger in Transit). Memorable images, which are combined in surprising ways and revolve around the motifs of violence, death, and sexuality, become allegories or parables for something, which Lieske calls the »dark side« or the »nightside«. He had developed a special sense for it when in 1949/50 his parents took in a foster child the same age as himself, a girl, from devastated Bremen, who experienced horrible nightmares. Speaking a strange language she had a lasting impression on the author who had been raised only with his brothers and perceived her as an appearance from an unknown world. This episode is narrated by Lieske in the  short story, »De achterste kamer« (1997; t: The Last Room). In his prose work, which developed in the nineties, Lieske effectually continued his eloquent evocation of those dark nether worlds of his poetry. His short story collection »Oorlogstuinen« (1992; t: War Gardens), was awarded the Geertjan Lubberhuizen Prize. His three subsequent novels were nominated for the distinguished Dutch Libris Literature Prize, which he finally won for »Franklin« in 2001. This book has been available in German since 2004. The grotesque and picaresque novel tells of the fatal destinies of three moralistically bedraggled men, who react with thumping violence to their relentless living conditions. One of the protagonists struggles alone to free himself from his hopeless living conditions. However, during the course of the narrative – which begins in Russia in the Forties and ends, after surprising and absurd twists, in Holland in the present day –, his endeavours prove as moving as they are futile. Lieske’s magnum opus, »Gran Café Boulevard« (2003), was on Dutch bestseller lists for weeks, and appeared in German in autumn 2005. This adventure novel follows the path of a notoriously lucky character – who during World War II worked as a forger for both the Allies and the Nazis – during his journey from Bilbao via Paris to the Netherlands. Even when he meets the love of his life, the dark, opaque mysteries of his family history are left unspoken, until finally he can’t keep up the pretence any longer. For his most recent volume of poems, »Hoe je geliefde te herkennen« (2006), Lieske received the Netherlands’ renowned VSB Poëzieprijs. The author lives in Leiden.

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