Radar is committed to all forms of art and entertainment and as such, will pick one book as a reading recommendation every week. This week Radar’s “Lit” pick is “War & Turpentine” by Stefan Hertmans.
Stefan Hertmans’ magnificent novel about the life of his grandfather, Urbaine Martien, is a subtle, vivid and worldwise piece of literature. This novel, a fictionalization of the diaries left by his grandfather, paints a bright and beautiful picture of Dutch life in the early part of the 20th century. The protagonist, Urbaine, is the son of a church painter and eventually joins the military to escape the deep poverty of his youth, resulting in his dispatch to the fronts of World War I.
While this book is slightly longer than the previous choices for the section, it is an absolute pleasure to read: The power of Hertman’s prose and the vivid detail that he presents brings forth the quiet drama of his grandfather’s life. The descriptions of life on the fronts of World War I are explosive, energetic and deeply affecting.