man on the move by Otto De kat


Otto De Kat is the pen name of publisher and literary critic Jan Geurt Gaarland ,he has written a number of other novels in dutch ,this is the second of his books translated in to english from dutch this translation is by Sam Garrett that has worked previously on Geert mak and Tim Krabbes books ,he won the Vondel award .Man on the move’s story revolves around rob a young man who can’t wait to escape his home land of the Netherlands ,and heads south to South Africa in search of adventure and fortune in the mines of South Africa ,but this is 1935 and huge movements are under foot around the world and are going to drag Rob in to them as he joins the Dutch army and meets a friend Guus a fellow dutch man ,as time  moves on Rob gets drawn in to the dutch conflict in the East Indies ,end up in Japan Manila then Back in South Africa ,along the way Rob loses Guus and thinks back on this lose and his upbringing in Holland .Rob never seems to be able to settle .

Johannesburg bore no resemblance to the place where the great adventure had begun .solider of fortune Ha!Soldier of luck , solider of destiny ,solider of fate : take your pick.soilder perhaps ,but fortune and luck had dragged their feet and fallen to far behind .soldier of fate ,ill-fated soldier ,ill-equipped in any case .

Rob returns to South Africa after being in the army.

Otto De Kat has written A wonderful work on an area of the second world war that is often overlooked the dutch involvement in the pacific war ,they had colonies all over mainly Java thou that was attack ,see this through robs eyes was eye-opening he shows you what comradeship is in the friendship and lose of Guus .In some ways you would say that Rob suffered what is now called post traumatic stress post war ,he wanders the world never settling ,like a boat that has lost its moorings and is adrift on the sea of life .This book is very like the writings of the great Dutch writer Slauerhoff who also wrote about constantly moving in the inter war year of the 20’s and 30’s .The book was publish first by Machlehose press in hard back and the Paperback is out on Quercus this week


the score for this book is the wonderful wandering albatross they never settle and wander the globe a bit like Rob

June 2010


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