The Greatest Dutch "Fiction" Books Since 1980

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 264 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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  1. 1. The Discovery of Heaven by Harry Mulisch

    "The Discovery of Heaven" is a philosophical novel that explores the relationship between mankind and the divine. The story revolves around two friends, an astronomer and a philologist, who are manipulated by heavenly forces to father a child who is destined to return the Ten Commandments to God. As the narrative unfolds, it delves into complex themes such as friendship, love, art, science, and the existence of God, presenting a thought-provoking analysis of the human condition.

  2. 2. All Souls' Day by Cees Nooteboom

    "All Souls' Day" is a novel about a Dutch documentary filmmaker, who, after losing his wife and daughter in a car accident, moves to Berlin to escape his grief. The protagonist becomes entangled in a series of romantic relationships while struggling to come to terms with his loss. The book blends narrative with philosophical musings on memory, loss, and the nature of time, using the city of Berlin as a backdrop to illustrate the protagonist's internal journey.

  3. 3. Smell of Sadness by Alfred Kossmann

    "Smell of Sadness" is a poignant narrative that revolves around a man who, after being separated from his wife during the Second World War, embarks on a journey to find her. The story takes us through the protagonist's experiences, his encounters with various people, and his personal struggles. The book is a deep exploration of human emotions, particularly the profound sadness that permeates through the protagonist's life, making it a moving and thought-provoking read.

  4. 4. Gimmick! by Joost Zwagerman

    "Gimmick!" is a novel that explores the life of a young artist in the Amsterdam art scene during the 1980s. The protagonist is caught in a world of excess, parties, drugs, sex, and betrayal while trying to find his place and make a name for himself. The story delves into the struggles of artistic life, the lure of fame and the pitfalls of success, providing a raw and gritty depiction of the times.

  5. 5. The Laws by Connie Palmen

    "The Laws" is a philosophical novel that follows the life of a young woman studying philosophy who becomes intrigued by the concept of laws, both societal and personal. Over the course of seven years, she engages in relationships with seven different men, each representing a different aspect of her studies including a priest, a physicist, an artist, a psychiatrist, a lawyer, a biologist, and a writer. Each relationship provides a new perspective on her quest to understand the laws of the universe and human nature.

  6. 6. Forever a Stranger by Hella S. Haasse

    "Forever a Stranger" is a historical novel set in the 19th-century Dutch East Indies, now known as Indonesia. It tells the story of Rudolf, a half-Dutch, half-Javanese boy, who is raised by his Dutch father after his Javanese mother's death. Throughout his life, Rudolf grapples with his mixed heritage and struggles to find a sense of belonging, experiencing the harsh realities of colonialism and the cultural divide between the Dutch and the Javanese. The narrative provides a critical examination of colonialism and its impact on identity, culture, and society.

  7. 7. The Twins by Tessa De Loo

    "The Twins" is a poignant narrative about twin sisters, separated at a young age due to the Second World War. One sister grows up in the Netherlands under Nazi occupation, while the other is raised in Germany as part of the Hitler Youth. After six decades of separation, they meet again and begin to share their experiences, discovering the impact of the war on their lives and the stark differences in their upbringing. The book explores themes of identity, loyalty, and the long-lasting effects of war on individuals and families.

  8. 8. Rituals by Cees Nooteboom

    "Rituals" is a philosophical novel that explores the lives of three men, each dealing with existential crises in post-World War II Netherlands. The narrative delves into their individual searches for meaning and purpose, their struggles with societal norms, and their attempts to establish personal rituals as a way to create order in a seemingly chaotic world. The book is a profound meditation on the human condition, examining themes of time, death, and the nature of reality.

  9. 9. Abessijnse Kronieken by Moses Isegawa

    "Abessijnse Kronieken" is a powerful and captivating novel set in Uganda during the tumultuous era of Idi Amin's dictatorship. The story follows the life of Mugezi, a young man navigating through the complexities of love, family, and political upheaval. With richly drawn characters and vivid descriptions, the book explores themes of identity, cultural clash, and the struggle for freedom in a country torn apart by corruption and violence.

  10. 10. We Had To Remove This Post by Hanna Bervoets

    In this thought-provoking novel, the story delves into the dark and complex world of content moderation on the internet, where a protagonist employed to filter out the worst of humanity's online activities grapples with the psychological toll of the job. The narrative explores themes of morality, censorship, and the impact of constant exposure to graphic content, as the protagonist becomes increasingly entangled in the lives of strangers online while struggling to maintain a sense of reality and personal identity amidst the relentless stream of posts that must be evaluated and often removed.

  11. 11. The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker

    The novel revolves around a middle-aged man who, after his twin brother's accidental death, is left to take care of the family farm and his ailing father in the Dutch countryside. Trapped by duty and familial expectations, he struggles with loneliness and the burden of an unfulfilled life. The narrative delves into themes of isolation, identity, and the profound impact of family dynamics as the protagonist grapples with his past and the stark reality of his present circumstances. The story unfolds against the backdrop of the stark, flat landscape, mirroring the protagonist's internal desolation and longing for a different existence.

Reading Statistics

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If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

Download