2021 Longlist

The Pelican:A Comedy


Translated from the Dutch by Jonathan Reeder

2021 Longlist

In a quiet coastal town in Yugoslavia, two men seeking more than the Communist regime can often find their lives deceitfully entwined. Andrej is a postman in complete denial of his existence. He yearns for respect and fame but commits petty crimes for reasons he doesn’t fully comprehend. Josip is an increasingly irrelevant cable car operator and unfaithfully married. Life was so much simpler when neither one knew the other’s secrets. Now that they do—discovered quite by accident—each man has resorted to blackmailing the other. As their anonymous misdeeds escalate, a farce of mutual dependency begins. So does the unlikeliest of friendships when Andrej and Josip finally meet face-to-face .In a tale set against the impending wars, Martin Michael Driessen ingeniously explores the foibles of two painfully ordinary men boldly staking their claims on life.

About the Author

Martin Michael Driessen is a Dutch opera and theatre director, translator, and writer. He made his debut in 1999 with the novel Gars, followed by Vader van God (Father of God, 2012) and Een ware held (A True Hero, 2013), both of which were broadly reviewed and nominated for literary prizes. In 2015 his novel Lizzie, written with the highly acclaimed and award-winning poet Liesbeth Lagemaat, was published under the pseudonym Eva Wanjek. Rivieren (Rivers, 2016) was awarded the prestigious ECI Literature Prize (formerly the AKO), the Readers Prize, and the Inktaap Prize, shortlisted for the Fintro Literature Prize, and nominated for the Halewijn Prize. His latest novel, De pelikaan (The Pelican, 2017), was shortlisted for the Libris Prize. His work has been translated into English, Italian, German, Spanish, Slovenian, and Hungarian.

Librarian’s Comments

Painful, moving and hilarious at the same time: Driessen’s novel about two men in a small Croatian village, who blackmail each other without knowing it. Andrej is a postman and single. Josip is unluckily married and he is the driver of a cable cart that transports tourists to a socialist hero’s monument. The tragicomedy is set in the Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia, in its last years. The great confrontations between Croats, Serbs, Bosniaks and all other peoples that Tito once united can already be sensed. A masterful play against a political background, translated eloquently by Jonathan Reeder. The Libraries of the Hague, Netherlands

A comedy about life’s little ironies. Two men – both living in a village in former Yugoslavia – try to make money to blackmail each other. Without both of them knowing the blackmailer. This situated in the beginning of the last Balkan war makes it a comic but also wry story. Utrecht Public Library, Netherlands

Michael Driessen


Amazon Publishing


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