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Man on the Move Paperback – 1 Jul 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: MacLehose Press (1 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849164002
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849164009
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,135,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A novel of extraordinary power and moral beauty' Paul Binding, Independent.

'Stimulating and original ... met confidently by Sam Garrett in his powerful translation ... a stark and impressive piece of storytelling' Nora Mahony, Times Literary Supplement.

'A compelling existential black-and-white novel ... reminiscent of Sartre's Nausea and Camus' The Outsider... This novel has a magical power of attraction' Ulrich Baron, Die Zeit.

'A thoughtful, elegiac text to be savoured slowly, again and again' Roger Cox, Scotsman.

From the Inside Flap

In January 1935, Rob, a young Dutchman, departs to Cape Town in search of adventure. After a brutal stint in the diamond mines, Rob sails to Java to join up in the Dutch army which is making a last stand against the invading Japanese. Here he meets a fellow Dutchman, Guus, in whom he finds a soul mate, the best friend he will ever have. They are soon captured by the Japanese. Together they survive the hell of labouring on the Burma railway, and together they leap off their ship when it is torpedoed. Rob never sees his friend again. After the war, Rob wanders from Manila to Lourenço Marques and back to Cape Town. Memories and images from the past follow him everywhere, and he spends his life unable to find peace, unable to accept love, unable to forgive himself for his imagined failings. Man on the Move is the magical journey of a wanderer and a touching portrait of an all-encompassing friendship.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steve Annett on 8 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Otto de Kat is a writer who knows how to communicate the deepest elements of what it is to be human without an iota of verbiage. Prose poetry at its best, I do not understand why this author is not more widely known ... other than the fact that he is Dutch!
Man on the Move explores what it is to be 'a man', through the life of an individual crippled by his emotional alienation from others and his inability to embrace and properly articulate his feelings. It creates a powerful portrait of someone running from themselves and the relationships and situations which threaten to ensnare them. A short but panoramic and powerful story whose dark and pessimistic themes are infused by writing of the highest order.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"His measured Dutch life was a distant memory...." 28 May 2011
By sdk - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Otto De Kat's Man on the Move (translated beautifully into English by Sam Garrett) begins with Rob's departure in January 1935 from Rotterdam, bound for Cape Town. As his parents wave from shore, Rob defiantly tears his father's various letters of introduction in two. His parents understand the message, and will never see Rob again. Rob exchanges the comforts--illusory and transitory, as the reader well knows--of home and the Netherlands for freedom, adventure,self-reliance, and a chance at self-fashioning. Rob labors in the gold mines and then leaves South Africa to defend Java against the Japanese invasion. Although Rob is captured and enslaved, he forms his life's deepest and most enduring friendship, with Guus, a good Dutch son, and Rob's (obvious) alter ego, what Rob might have been. Guus does not survive the war, and in fact dies the most Dutch of deaths: he drowns. What is left of Rob? One can appreciate this as a moving story, sparsely written, with words meticulously chosen and sentences carefully crafted. One can appreciate it as an exploration of friendship, manhood, parent-child relations and the possibilities of the individual. In addition to all these qualities, however, Man on the Move has an essential "Dutchness" that, to this reviewer, makes it truly special and yet is difficult to describe. It deals with the moral struggles best explained in Simon Schama's The Embarrassment of Riches. Beware of excess material comforts; one's worthiness is proven by surviving "trials." Then Rob must struggle with the fact that he survived, and Guus, the good son of the Netherlands, did not.
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