The Twin (Paperback)

The Twin Cover Image
By Gerbrand Bakker, David Colmer (Translator)
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March 2009 Indie Next List

“The loneliness and the wide-open interior spaces of a life half lived -- such is the thematic backdrop of this melancholy but engrossing Dutch novel about a farmer who has survived the death of his twin brother only, eventually, to realize that life does still hold something for him, something uncanny and new.”
— Adam Walter, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA


Winner of the 2010 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

An NPR pick for Best Foreign Fiction of the Year, a "School Library Journal" Best Adult Book for High School Students and a Indispensable Pick.

Author of TEN WHITE GEESE (Penguin, 2013)

"A novel of restrained tenderness and laconic humor."--J. M. Coetzee

"Gerbrand Bakker's writing is so fabulously clear, so clear that each sentence leaves a rippling wake."--"Los Angeles Times"

When his twin brother is killed in a car accident, Helmer is obliged to give up university to take over his brother's role on the small family farm, resigning himself to spending the rest of his days "with his head under a cow."

The novel begins thirty years later with Helmer moving his invalid father upstairs and out of the way so he can redecorate the downstairs, finally making it his own. Then Riet, the woman who had once been engaged to Helmer's twin, appears and asks if her troubled eighteen-year-old son could come live on the farm for a while.

"The Twin" poses complex questions about solitude and the possibility of taking life into one's own hands. Set in the beautiful landscape of the Dutch countryside, it chronicles a way of life that has resisted modernity, a world culturally apart yet laden with familiar longing.

Gerbrand Bakker lives in the Netherlands.

About the Author

Gerbrand Bakker (b. 1962) studied Dutch language and literature and worked as a subtitler for nature films before becoming a gardener. [The Twin], his first adult novel, appeared in Dutch in 2006 and was awarded the Golden Dog-Ear, a prize for the best-selling literary debut.

DAVID COLMER is an independent writer and translator. He translates Dutch literature in a wide range of genres. His nonfiction translations include Living Dangerously: A Biography of Joris Ivens and Formula One Fanatic.

Praise For…


A novel of restrained tenderness and laconic humor. —J.M. Coetzee

Stealthy, seductive story-telling that draws you into a world of silent rage and quite unexpected relationships. Compelling and convincing from beginning to end. —Tim Parks

This is a novel of great brilliance and subtlety. It contains scenes of enveloping psychological force . . . its extraordinary last section suggesting that fulfillment of long-standing aspirations can arrive, unanticipated, in late middle-age. —Paul Binding

I have rarely been so captivated by a voice. The plot of this unusual novel is simple, but its power is mysterious. Gerbrand Bakker’s tone and language make the despondent yet valiant narrator utterly authentic and the plain rural setting mesmerizing. The family drama has the quality of myth, yet remains rooted in daily reality, so much so that I responded with the innocent surrender of a child reader: I had lived on that Dutch farm and shared the characters’ tragedies and small triumphs. This is a book that restores one’s faith in meticulous realism. —Lynne Sharon

Schwartz I found The Twin, by Gerbrand Bakker, sitting on a coffee table at a writers' colony in 2009. I finished it, weeping, a day later, and have been puzzling over its powerful hold on me ever since. I've recommended it again and again. —Amy Waldman, All Things Considered, NPR

This is a quiet book, humble in tone, with a fine, self-deprecating humour […] It leaves the reader touched and with the impression of having seen and smelled the ever-damp Dutch platteland. —Times Literary Supplement

Product Details
ISBN: 9781935744047
ISBN-10: 1935744046
Publisher: Archipelago Books
Publication Date: August 2010
Pages: 343
Language: English
Series: Rainmaker Translations