The Ten Thousand Things by Maria Dermout

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Synopsis

In Wild, Cheryl Strayed writes of The Ten Thousand Things: "Each of Dermoût’s sentences came at me like a soft knowing dagger, depicting a far-off land that felt to me like the blood of all the places I used to love.” And it's true, The Ten Thousand Things is at once novel of shimmering strangeness—and familiarity. It is the story of Felicia, who returns with her baby son from Holland to the Spice Islands of Indonesia, to the house and garden that were her birthplace, over which her powerful grandmother still presides. There Felicia finds herself wedded to an uncanny and dangerous world, full of mystery and violence, where objects tell tales, the dead come and go, and the past is as potent as the present. First published in Holland in 1955, Maria Dermoût's novel was immediately recognized as a magical work, like nothing else Dutch—or European—literature had seen before. The Ten Thousand Things is an entranced vision of a far-off place that is as convincingly real and intimate as it is exotic, a book that is at once a lament and an ecstatic ode to nature and life.

 

About Maria Dermout

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Former New Yorker reporter Hans Koning was born Hans Koningsberger in Amsterdam and was a student when World War II broke out and the Germans invaded. He escaped and joined the British Army. After the war, he attended the University of Amsterdam and the Sorbonne, simultaneously working as a full-time writer and journalist. In 1951, Koning caught a freighter to the United States, where he continued to work as a freelance writer and began The Affair (1958), the first of his thirteen novels. Koning now lives in Connecticut with his wife, Kate, and is, as always, writing. In addition to his twenty-two books, three plays, and two translations, he has written political-travel pieces as a reporter-at-large for The New Yorker and has reported for The Atlantic Monthly and The New York Times.
 
Published March 1, 1983 by Univ of Massachusetts Pr. 320 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Ten Thousand Things

Kirkus Reviews

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From the Dutch, in a seemingly perfect translation by Rane Koningaberger, these stories of an island in the Moluccas (the spice islands), of a garden on a bay, of the ""old, the past, of the so-very-long ago"" have a still and timeless charm.

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Publishers Weekly

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Felicia, who grew up with her Dutch grandmother on an Indonesian island, returns there from Holland with her young son, Himpies, after being robbed and abandoned by her husband.

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The New York Review of Books

The Ten Thousand Things is a novel of shimmering strangeness—the story of Felicia, who returns with her baby son from Holland to the Spice Islands of Indonesia, to the house and garden that were her birthplace, over which her powerful grandmother still presides.

Jul 31 2002 | Read Full Review of The Ten Thousand Things

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