The judging panel commented: Though rich in detail, it’s a sparely written story, with the narrator’s odd small cruelties, laconic humour and surprising tendernesses emerging through a steady, well-paced, unaffected style. The book convinces from first page to last. With quiet mastery the story draws in the reader. The writing is wonderful: restrained and clear, and studded with detail of farm rhythms in the cold, damp Dutch countryside. The author excels at dialogue, and Helmer’s inner story-telling voice also comes over perfectly as he begins to change everything around him. There are intriguing ambiguities, but no false notes. Nothing and no one is predictable, and yet we believe in them all: the regular tanker driver, the next door neighbour with her two bouncing children, and Jaap, the old farm labourer from the twins’ childhood who comes back to the farm in time for the last great upheaval, as Helmer finally takes charge of what is left of his own life.
In today's Irish Times there is a lengthy and entertaining interview by Eileen Battersby with Bakker and his (excellent) translator David Colmer here. Asked who his favourite character in the novel is, Bakker mischievously picks Wim (who never appears). And, quirkily, at the awards ceremony he gave a rendition of the highly unsuccessful Dutch entry for the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, Waar is de zon so here it is, below:-