From Publishers Weekly
First published in 1955, Dutch author Maria Dermot's loosely autobiographical The Ten Thousand Things, trans. by Hans Koning, is now back in print in English. Felicia, who grew up with her Dutch grandmother on an Indonesian island, returns there from Holland with her young son, Himpies, after being robbed and abandoned by her husband. Known by the locals as the "young lady of the Small Garden," she settles easily (despite her superstitious and imperious grandmother) back into the customs and rhythms of the island, eventually accruing enough wealth to live very comfortably. Tragedy strikes when Himpies, who has grown and joined the army, is killed. A new set of characters is then introduced, throwing the narrative off somewhat, but the focus returns to Felicia at the end, as she tries to make sense of the deaths that have shaped her own life. Dermot beautifully depicts the idyllic setting and handles the darker aspects of the story-ghosts, superstition, even murder-with equal skill.
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“Fans of magic realism will be thrilled to discover a long out-of-print Dutch classic...Dermout writes exquisitely and hauntingly of murder and loss, tolerance, and fear of “the other.” --Library Journal
"Dermoût beautifully depicts the idyllic setting and handles the darker aspects of the story—ghosts, superstition, even murder—with equal skill." --Publishers Weekly
"An offbeat narrative that has the timeless tone of legend." –Time
"Mrs. Dermout, in the manner of Thoreau and the early Hemingway, is an extraordinary sensualist. But her approach is not the muzzy, semi-poetic one in which the writer damagingly affixes his own imagination to what he sees. Instead, her instinct for beauty results, again and again, in passages of a startling, unadorned, three-dimensional clarity; often one can almost touch what she describes." –Whitney Balliett, The New Yorker
"Beautiful and eerie" -–The Atlantic
"I might add that the books we return to are informed by potencies—those objects that illumine the text and our own memories. I am thinking of Maria Dermout’s magical The Ten Thousand Things.
" –Rikki Ducornet, novelist
"This [The Ten Thousand Things
] is a beautiful book. What’s curious, you get the tone that makes you recognize that Michael Ondaatje is part of a culture, not simply a singular writer; he's part of a whole way of seeing reality." –Robert Creeley
"A son murdered by the head-hunters of Ceram. Three ghost-sisters playing on an empty beach. The curiosity cabinet and its contents. As the story circles on itself, they number in the thousands, so that anything once loved is eternal, beautiful, unchanged." –Linda Spalding, in Lost Classics