The Twin by Gerbrand BakkerThe Twin by Gerbrand Bakker

The Twin

byGerbrand Bakker

Paperback | June 1, 2009

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When Henk’s twin brother dies in a car accident, Helmer is obliged to return to the small family farm. He resigns himself to taking over his brother’s role and spending the rest of his days ‘with his head under a cow’.

After his old, worn-out father has been transferred upstairs, Helmer sets about furnishing the rest of the house according to his own minimal preferences. ‘A double bed and a duvet’, advises Ada, who lives next door, with a sly look. Then Riet appears, the woman once engaged to marry his twin. Could Riet and her son live with him for a while, on the farm?

The Twin is an ode to the platteland, the flat and bleak Dutch countryside with its ditches and its cows and its endless grey skies. Ostensibly a novel about the countryside, as seen through the eyes of a farmer, The Twin is, in the end, about the possibility or impossibility of taking life into one’s own hands. It chronicles a way of life which has resisted modernity, is culturally apart, and yet riven with a kind of romantic longing.

From the Hardcover edition.
Gerbrand Bakker worked as a subtitler for nature films before becoming a gardener. The Twin is his prize-winning debut novel and will shortly be made into a film.From the Hardcover edition.
Title:The TwinFormat:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 7.73 × 5.05 × 0.71 inPublished:June 1, 2009Publisher:Random House UKLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:009951687X

ISBN - 13:9780099516873


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant! I’ve just finished reading this book and should perhaps wait a day or two to write my review so that maybe my gushing and cooing about how wonderful this book is will wear off a bit. But I doubt that I’ll feel different about this book tomorrow or ten years from now. Amazing…perfect…brilliant. Leaves me utterly speechless. For me…this is what fiction is all about. To say so much with such simplicity. To so aptly and accurately capture the essence of a place I have never been but will recognize when I get there. Prose that is like poetry. A flowing of words that so effortlessly take me there….I am there…there with the sheep and the donkeys…with Helmer…prose that creates reality. A book like this is why I love words. I would give Gerbrand Bakker 10+ stars for this book!! Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Date published: 2013-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Spare and Beautifully Written Dublin Impac Winner The Twin is a spare and beautifully written tale of a man in his mid -fifties reluctantly living on an isolated small farm in The Netherlands, while also looking after his dying father. Identical twins Helmer and Henk were almost inseparable as children. As time goes on, Helmer plans to leave the farm for university in Amsterdam. Henk , clearly his father's favourite child,intends to carry on farming with his father .Riet, Henk's fiance, is a part of that future. When a tragic accident kills Henk, Helmer regretfully returns home to the farm to take Henk's place. Father and son have a difficult relationship, to say the least. As the story opens, Helmer is in his mid -fifties, still resentfully carrying on as a farmer and looking after his now bedridden elderly father. Helmer decides to make a few changes, moving his father to an upstairs room as well as doing some redecorating of the house. The plot, which moves along slowly, picks up when Helmer's dead twin's former fiance , Riet, contacts Helmer for the first time since Henk's death. Riet,now the widow of another man, asks Helmer if she can send her teen-aged son, also named Henk ,to live with Helmer and his father. Apparently young Henk has been struggling emotionally and Riet thinks that Helmer's assistance will be of help to young Henk. The intrusion and change that young Henk brings to the household shakes up Helmer's plodding and solitary life . Helmer and his father continue to have difficult relationship. This is a fascinating read, rich with symbolism, reflection and fraught with loneliness. So subtly is the story told that an undercurrent of the plot that had puzzled me finally gelled as I closed the pages of the book. A memorable read.
Date published: 2011-12-05

Editorial Reviews

“Bakker captures the feel of life in the Dutch countryside in a style which is both dazzling and subdued. He has produced a poignant story, recounted in a tone at once spare and loving.” —De Volkskrant“After finishing The Twin, all the reader can say is: here is a true writer” —Het Parool“Bakker is above all a gifted stylist.” —Trouw"A novel of restrained tenderness and laconic humour.” —J.M. CoetzeeFrom the Hardcover edition.