The Twin, by Gerbrand Bakker. Trans. David Colmer. This first-person novel about a man in late middle age shows the power of clear, simple language in drawing the reader into the character’s world. The protagonist, a bitter and laconic farmer who gave up his own plans 30 years earlier in order to replace his dead twin on the family farm, begins first by moving the furniture and ends in challenging all his relationships. The story seems slight but is weighted with this man’s past, fully rendering the complexity of family relationships without descending to sentimentality. The protagonist’s deadpan first-person voice is riveting.
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