Hagar Peeters

Malva

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Winner of the Fintro Prize for Literature
Kirkus Fall 2018 Previews
Poetic prose full of magical realism, biographical details and psychological insight. – Opzij

Malva, a precocious eight-year-old ghost, is running amok in the afterlife with a cadre of other lost children. She searches for her father, the famous poet Pablo Neruda, and wants him to know the details of her small, but not insignificant life. Why did he abandon her, and her mother Maria? And what became of him? Who was he before he had a child? And what did she, his only child, mean to him?

From her omniscient perspective, the once disabled and mute Malva now travels through the world and through time, seeing her father as a young boy, later as he courted her mother in Dutch-Indonesia, and how his political passions drove his life. She scrutinizes every moment, seeking to understand and resolve her loss. With the wisdom of a child, she picks up her father’s pen and conducts literary mischief, courting the great poets of our time and bringing her chosen ghostwriter, Hagar Peeters, news of her own father, who was a journalist in Chile during the coup and Neruda’s mysterious death.… Startling, profound, and graceful, Peeters brings to readers the world Malva could not describe in life, an extraordinary story of love that spans earth and heaven.

There are many parallels between the mute Malva and the language- and literature-loving Peeters in this father-daughter book full of yearning for recognition. – De Limburger

Cleverly unravels the myth surrounding Neruda without knocking him off his pedestal. An original biographical novel written, as befits a poet, in sparkling language. – JAN

Hagar Peeters (b. 1972), nominee for Dutch Poet Laureate, has won numerous prizes and published several volumes of poetry: Enough Poems Written About Love Today (1999), Suitcases of Sea Air (2003), Runner of Light (2008) and Maturity (2011). She spent ten years researching the life of Malva in The Netherlands and Chile. She lives in Amsterdam with her son.
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205 printed pages
Original publication
2018
Translator
Vivien Glass

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