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Table of contents
About This Book
- Peeters is an award-winning poet from the Netherlands and was shortlisted for the position of the Dutch Poet Laureate. Malva is her debut novel, and it won the 2016 Fintro Prize for Literature (formerly known as the Golden Book Owl).
- The subject matter and narrative will appeal to those who liked the 2017 Booker Prize for Fiction, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. Malva is the hidden child of Pablo Neruda, stuck in a kind of limbo, with an omniscient perspective and surrounded by a fascinating cast of characters.
- The novel is based on reality but the voice of Malva—wise and witty—creates an entirely new view of Neruda's life.
- Other famous-author descendants keep Malva company including Lucia, a "supposed" schizophrenic daughter of James Joyce, Arthur Miller's son with Down's Syndrome, Eduard Einstein, and Oskar, a "the droll midget," from a Gunter Grass novel.
- Malva herself brings visibility to the vivid life of the imagination and how it conquers many physical disabilities.
- Malva has a young girl's voice and is a lead character that will enthrall readers with her mischievous ways, her tantrums, her innocence and her wisdom.
- With an unusual topic, elegantly written and beautifully translated, Malva is poised for review attention and Peeters for recognition as a writer of significance from the European literature scene.
- Major interviews in El Mundo (Spain) and El Mercurio (Chile) will be translated and available on the book page at DoppelHouse Press' website.
- The author speaks perfect English, lived for a while in Los Angeles, and will hopefully tour the book to select locations.
- The political background to the book is worthy of off-the-book-page articles, which we will pursue. Here's the backstory:
When Salvador Allende nationalized Chile's huge natural resource of copper mines the intention was socialist, leading to fear of the "domino effect" by Latin American countries. CIA got involved and help orchestrate a military coup, installing Augusto Pinochet in power. Pablo Neruda, a famously communist-sympathizing leftist and national folk hero, dies under mysterious circumstances just after the coup. His house is ransacked, and his funeral sets off major protests against the Pinochet junta. Hagar Peeter's father was a journalist in Chile who covered the funeral protests. His original notes from the events form part of the book. It turns out that later, Peeter's father was helping to orchestrate the world wide labor strike against Pinochet with Orlando Letelier (only person assassinated on US soil by a foreign government [that we know of]). The Dutch port workers in Rotterdam (largest port in Europe) refused the copper showing solidarity with the Chileans.
- In addition to being about Pablo Neruda, Malva is also the story of the Chilean coup, the Spanish Civil War, the Holocaust in The Netherlands and the Dutch concentration camps where Malva's mother was imprisoned for a time, as well as early colonial Java, where Malva's parents met and fell in love.
- The book softly turns death and trauma into grace: Malva poetically describes her realization that in the dying moments — of famous figures, of Malva's mother, and many others — people are not alone. Their loved ones and friends join them from the afterlife at the time that they pass away, and in that instant, the ghosts are responsible for shepherding them away from the troubled world to a place where they can understand the whole of existence.
- Peeters' own father left when her mother was pregnant with her. She met her father for the first time years later as a young teenager. This story is encoded also in the book as Malva tells Peeters about Peeters' father from what she can see from her omniscient perspective.
- Peeters' first international recognition was in the '90s through the international spoken word / beat poetry scene. Collections of her poetry soon followed, along with numerous awards. Although Malva is her first novel, Peeters has been writing for over 25 years and has developed an elegant yet powerful voice.
- Malva has been translated and published in France, Germany, Colombia, and Lebanon.