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Arnon Yasha Yves Grünberg
Marek van der Jagt
Arnon Grunberg was born as Arnon Yasha Yves Grünberg (1971), he is a Dutch writer of Jewish descent. Some of his books were written using the pseudonym Marek van der Jagt. In 2000 Van der Jagt made his debut with the novel ‘De geschiedenis van mijn kaalheid’ [The Story of My Baldness], soon it became known that it was Grunberg hidden behind this name, but not before was announced that Van der Jagt had won the Anton Wachter award. The debut prize, however, was not awarded, on which Grunberg wrote a letter to the jury as Van der Jagt: ‘Your intent was to commend my book, not my existence.’
In 2002 Van der Jagt’s second novel was released: ‘Gstaad 95-98’, and in 2005 he published an essay on philosopher Otto Weiniger, the Jewish writer of the anti-Semitic book ‘Sex and character’, who committed suicide in 1903. Here Van der Jagt argues that Weiniger became entangled in the distinction between creating art and creating a personal identity. He end the essay ‘Otto Weiniger or Does the Jew exist?’ with the footnote, ‘This is the last book on which the name Marek van der Jagt shall appear. He no longer is of use, and therefore has lost his identity. He must do what I cannot (yet): die.’
The collected work of Marek van der Jagt appeared in 2008, bearing the title ‘Ik ging van hand tot hand’ [They Passed Me From Hand to Hand], edited by Reinjan Mulder and with an introduction from Arnon Grunberg.
On Grunberg’s website, Marek van der Jagt is described as follows: ‘I like: Trail maps. Bathing suits. The days before Christmas. Retirement communities in the afternoon. Cantinas in general. Vegetable soup. Tirol. North, south, as long as it’s Tirol. Trains, especially the dining car. The dining car staff, the food that is served there. Ex-girlfriends. Relatives of the ex-girlfriends. Uniforms, no matter what type: fireman, nurse, waiter, military – everything that wears a uniform fills me with trust and admiration. Empty movie theaters. Boots. For women, for men, but preferably for women. Real women wear boots. Horror movies. Preferably those in which people are possessed by demons that must be exorcised. Fashion, the more vulgar, the better. Dressing rooms. Prophesies that predict the end of the world. Walking sticks. Living rooms with birds in a cage. Masseurs. ‘The end of Le Rouge et le Noir’ by Stendhal. That chopped-off head – wonderful! Role play in all its manifestations. Lego. Landladies who check to see whom you take upstairs. Landladies who make you go grocery shopping for them. Savings accounts with just enough annual interest to pay for a cup of coffee. Relatives you don’t want to see anymore. Olive oil. Letting telephones ring. Having the bed all to yourself. Servants. Our deepest desire can be summed up in a single word: servants. The melancholy certainty that I will one day be reincarnated as a servant girl.
I don’t like: Possession. Possession is an escape when it doesn’t fit in a travel bag. Writers in restaurants, cafés and hotels. Raisins. Colleagues. I wish there were exceptions, so that I could say: such and such colleague is nice, and so is his wife. But there are none. Friendliness as principle. Nothing is worse than being friendly to people whom you despise inwardly. People who despise nobody. They are often the most despicable. Tourists. Tourism is the symptom of a disease for which I have yet to find a name. The humiliation that stems from the justification: ‘It is for your own security.’ I have nothing against humiliation, but why not just say: ‘We intend to humiliate you.’ The fear of a scandal. The pious believe that life is something other than a scandal. Okay, the life of a canary maybe. Publishers. They live off writers like flies off dung. But I would still rather be the dung than the fly that takes place on it. Romantic sex. Beaches full of half-naked people. Freedom. A despicable invention, since it is obvious that nothing drives people to despair like their freedom. Social commitments. Fear for Muslims, the American threat. Fear of danger in general. Santa Claus and all the Christmas carols he sings. The Salvation Army. Foreign aid. Jeeps. Wasps. Everybody who has more hair than I. Or more talent. Luckily there aren’t many and I have never personally met them.’
For a while Arnon Grunberg was in a relationship with Dutch writer Aaf Brandt Corstius, in her book ‘Het jaar dat ik dertig werd’ [The year I turned thirty] Grunberg appears as ‘Meneertje Knipperlicht’ [‘mister on and off’ or ‘mister flashing light’].
See also Aaf Brandt Corstius.
‘Marek van der Jagt’, Arnon Grunberg/About, retrieved 30 July 2013
‘Arnon Grunberg’, Wikipedia, retrieved 30 July 2013
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