Arnold is in his late forties and served as an officer in the Dutch army which took him to the former Yugoslavia during and after the wars there ,after he left the army he became a poet ,Journalist and novelist ,King of Tuzla is his second book and was published in 1999 in Netherlands ,but republished now by Holland Park Press a new publisher that publish the books both in dutch and english translation editions .THE king of Tuzla ,well when I first heard about this book I went to myself Tuzla? I know that name well after a few pages of Tijmen story the main character in the book a serving officer in the dutch army and he is based in Tuzla air base in Bosnia as part of the U.N peace keeping force ,I went yes ,it is amazing how quickly a name that was in the news nearly every day for a few years can have been forgotten by myself .Know those of you who reads my blog regularly will know I have an interest in this area of europe and in the people after spend time working with refugees in early nineties in a factory in Germany .Any way back to the book we join Tijmen on the base on patrol at what at the time the book is set just after the Balkan wars is a very fractured and tense country ,we get to view the day-to-day life of a peacekeeper ,What Arnold has wonderfully done is included little stories from the locals about their lives and the effect the wars have had on them . Tijmen struggles at times coping but manages to do so but is a changed man due to the experencies .The later parts of the book are told by Tijmen via diary entries looking back on his time as king of Tuzla
The house next to Galib’s place stood empty for a year .His former neighbour had fled to Germany .For thirty years Dragan had dropped by every evening after work ,and eaten with the family .Dragan was more than a neighbour ,he was a friend Dragan ,who played his harmonica for them Dragan with whom he went fishing in the river every saturday ,His household effects had been divided up among the villagers .
a neighbour lament his neighbour who left due to the war .
The book is a cracking read and I flew through it in a couple of days. Arnold is obviously written this book from the heart and at times feels like a memoir more than a novel the local characters that are written about as well as the troops seem based in part on real people that he obviously meet over his time as a peacekeeper .The translator on this book is Paul Vincent a well-known Dutch translator who has previously won the David Reid poetry translation prize for translating Hendrik Marsmans poems .Arnold also writes a weekly colunm for the holland park press that is worth reading . I look forward at some point to reading more book by Arnold