- Archipelago Books (USA); Pushkin Press (UK)
About the book
A Dutch soldier in a muddy no man’s land moves into a luxurious villa. Before long a German officer turns up at the door. He has come to requisition the house and assumes that his enemy is its rightful owner. A bizarre situation results, with a disturbing ending.
The Safe House, which with its cynical tone encountered a great deal of hostility when it was first published, has become a classic of Dutch literature from the period after the Second World War.
‘Sometimes I didn’t even understand the orders. Not that the officers cared. Three days before, our platoon had been shelled by our own side. A special Russian detachment had also arrived, selected five men and taken them behind the barn we were bivouacked in to shoot them. One tried to run away. The next morning he was lying face-up on the road. Nobody dared move him out of the way. We marched over him, putting our feet down on top of him to keep in step. I was bringing up the rear of the column. By the time I reached him his head was already cracked and unrecognizable. I couldn’t tell who it was. I must have seen him every day for three months. But I wouldn’t have known his name.’