translator: Laura Watkinson

june 2011
Peirene Press
180 pages
isbn 9780956284044

Reviews | Fragment

A story about anger, aggression and the desire for intimacy by a rising star of modern Dutch literature.

A professional boxer and a family man meet by chance on a journey to the Pamplona Bull Run. The boxer is fleeing an unhappy love. The father hopes to escape his dull routine. Both know that, eventually, they will have to return to the place each calls ‘home’.

Why Peirene chose to publish this book. Meike Ziervogel: ‘I adore the deceptive simplicity of this story. On the surface, the fast moving plot, the short sentences, the ordinary words make the text as straight forward as punches in a boxing match. But just as physical conflict stirs deep emotions, so too does this book as it focuses on a single question: how do you choose between flight and fight?’

Laura Watkinson on translating Tomorrow Pamplona: ‘Tomorrow Pamplona is a beautifully subtle book that builds up to a devastating conclusion. Van Mersbergen draws his readers in and takes them on a claustrophobic journey to Pamplona and back with boxer Danny. This is a book in which two men communicate a great deal in few words, with two narrative threads intertwining and flashbacks creating tension and anticipation. As a translator, I’m enjoying the challenge of maintaining the pace and pressure of Van Mersbergen’s taut text. I hope to emulate the author’s ability to present a detailed and intricate portrait of a believable character who is difficult, psychologically complex and deeply troubled, yet ultimately sympathetic for all of his flaws.’

Jan van Mersbergen on writing Tomorrow Pamplona: ‘I wanted to write a story about one of the most important questions in life: what do you do: run or fight? In a bull-run the thrill comes from escape. In a boxing match you look the opponent in the eye. When these two instincts meet something extraordinary occurs.’