Quotes & Reviews

You have me to love

NRC Next ***** Telegraaf ***** Het Parool ***** Volkskrant **** De Morgen ****

‘Robben takes chances with his depiction of the erratic Dora’s frustration and her dangerous threat to her son as he matures. There are no concessions to sympathy, although in het unhinged demands she is shockingly, if unacceptably. human. This is a bold, tender and ambivalent narrative, raw and disturbing, with moments of painful beauty.’ Eileen Battersby – The Irish Times 

You Have Me To Love is an intense and dramatic novel filled with meticulous use of detail and a forensic psychological accuracy. Its power comes from the fierce energy of the narrative structure, the way of handling silence and pain, and the ability to confront the darkest areas of experience with clear-eyed sympathy and care. Jaap Robben handles delicate, dangerous material with subtlety and sympathy, but also with a visionary sense of truth that is masterly and unforgettable.” Colm Tóibín 

Robben’s description of the inner world of a child is faultless. As an oppressive story of the premature loss of innocence, Birk is on a par with Niccolo Ammaniti’s I’m Not Scared and Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden. With You Have Me to Love, Jaap Robben delivers a staggering first novel.’ Het Parool *****

‘At first sight there’s nothing spectacular about the plot and the narrative is traditionally structured. Yet with this basis, Robben has written a novel that slowly grabs you by the throat.’ De Volkskrant ****

‘The way he tells the story of Mikael Hammerman in 58 short chapters is original and inimitable. Finally another book that has got under my skin.’ Bart Moeyaert

‘From the first sentence it is clear how well début novelist Jaap Robben writes. His childishly simple yet highly suggestive sentences make You have me to love as stark and forboding as the island on which they it is set’ ***** NRC NEXT

‘Robben lifts you up from your life and sweeps you away, with no chance of escaping. You just keep reading while you’re holding your breath. A promising novelist is born’ **** De Morgen

‘Unbelievable. A beautiful story, light for all the heaviness, written in a clear and powerfull style.
Robben merges grief, simplicity and isolation in a phenomenal way’ ***** Telegraaf

‘Moving between child-like speculation and shocking realism, Robben’s novel transports the reader into lives almost beyond imagining in the contemporary world. With echoes of Ian McEwan and Peter Carey, Robben’s tale is one to savor and discuss.’ Booklist

“In this tremendous book, p-Jaap Robben explores isolation, guilt, mother- and childhood, in the most unexpected way. Robben’s crystal clear sentences combined with his deep gaze into the flipsides of human behaviour – and love – makes this an unforgetable read. Run to the bookstores, people.’ Dorthe Nors

‘You have me to love is an experience. The intense dialogues, potent atmosphevric desciptions and near-poetic imagery make this a magnificent and powerful story that gets under your skin.’ **** Cutting Edge

‘A literary gem.’ Wegener Dagbladen

‘The accuracy with which Jaap Robben observes things – a skill which also shines in his best poems – almost hypnotizes.’ Leeswolf

‘Part of the brilliance of this novel lies in Robben’s ability to set up this perfect metaphor for Mikael and his mother.’ ‘Robben’s novel explores raw and unsettling psychological territory. It is a story that once read will stick with the reader for a long time.’ Elizabeth Jaeger The Literary Review 

‘What a beautiful writer Robben is! I read the novel and was completely seduced – raw and harrowing and very moving. Robben is a powerful writer and reminds me very much of Per Petterson.’ Aifric Campbell

‘You have me to love is a beautiful, intoxicating book full of magnificent sentences and terrific empathy’ Boekblad

‘Beautiful, just beautiful’ Gerbrand Bakker

‘A small masterpiece’ Harpers Bazaar

‘Robben’s clear sentences and empathic use of language read like poetry: rhythmic, probing and sonorous’ Dagblad van het Noorden

In 2018 Jaap Robben did a major tour of the United States and Canada with the translation of Birk where he was a guest at LitHub in San Francisco, the Brooklyn Book Festival in New York, the Writers Festival in Vancouver and the Boston Book Festival, among others.
He was also invited at the European Literature Night in the British Library in London. Here you can check out the interview and his reading from the book.

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