Magazine article New Internationalist

The Black Lake

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Black Lake

Article excerpt

The Black Lake by Hella S Haasse translated from the Dutch by Ina Rilke (Portobello, ISBN 9781846273230)

Dutch author Hella S Haasse, who died last year aged 93, was feted in her homeland but relatively little-known in the English-speaking world. She began her writing career in 1948 with the novella Oeroej, newly translated here as The Black Lake. Set in postwar Indonesia, the book recounts the childhood of a Dutch plantation owner's son and his friendship with Oeroeg, the son of a servant. Unaware of the strictures of race and class that will ultimately smash their bond of comradeship, the children play amid the forests and fertile plantations of Java. The vastly different lives that their stratified society has mapped out for the two boys inexorably lead to their estrangement, causing mutual bewilderment and enduring bitterness. …

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