13-04-15

Michel Faber

 

De Schotse, Engelstalige schrijver van Nederlandse herkomst, Michel Faber werd geboren in Den Haag op 13 april 1960. Faber emigreerde in 1967 naar Australië. Hij studeerde Nederlands, Engels, retorica en filosofie aan de Universiteit van Melbourne. Na zijn afstuderen had hij moeite om werk te vinden en ging hij een opleiding tot verpleegkundige volgen, welk beroep hij uitvoerde van 1983 tot 1993. In 1993 emigreerde hij met zijn tweede vrouw naar Schotland, waar hij nog altijd woont. Faber schreef al volop vanaf het begin van de jaren tachtig, maar publiceerde pas vanaf in 1998 zijn eerste verhalen onder de titel “Some Rain Must Fall” (Gods speelgoed) en in 2000 zijn eerste roman “Under the Skin” (Onder de huid). Met werken als “The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps” (2001, Honderdnegenennegentig treden) en “The Courage Consort” (2002, Het courage-ensemble) bereikte hij een breed publiek. Hoogtepunt in Fabers oeuvre is ongetwijfeld zijn monumentale roman van bijna duizend bladzijden “The Crimson Petal and the White” (2002, Lelieblank, scharlakenrood). Het is het verhaal van de negentienjarige intelligente prostituee Sugar in het Victoriaanse Londen van 1875. ”The Crimson Petal and the White werd een internationale bestseller en geroemd door de literaire kritiek. Zijn volgende boeken, twee verhalenbundels en de roman “The Fire Gospel” wisten het succes van hun voorganger ook niet te evenaren. Fabers boeken werden meermaals onderscheiden, onder andere met de O. Henry Award en de Costa Book Award.

Uit: Under the Skin

“Isserley always drove straight past a hitch-hiker when she first saw him, to give herself time to size him up. She was looking for big muscles: a hunk on legs. Puny, scrawny specimens were no use to her.
At first glance, though, it could be surprisingly difficult to tell the difference. You'd think a lone hitcher on a country road would stand out a mile, like a distant monument or a grain silo; you'd think you would be able to appraise him calmly as you drove, undress him and turn him over in your mind well in advance. But Isserley had found it didn't happen that way.
Driving through the Highlands of Scotland was an absorbing task in itself; there was always more going on than picture postcards allowed. Even in the nacreous hush of a winter dawn, when the mists were still dossed down in the fields on either side, the A9 could not be trusted to stay empty for long. Furry carcasses of unidentifiable forest creatures littered the asphalt, fresh every morning, each of them a frozen moment in time when some living thing had mistaken the road for its natural habitat.
Isserley, too, often ventured out at hours of such prehistoric stillness that her vehicle might have been the first ever. It was as if she had been set down on a world so newly finished that the mountains might still have some shifting to do and the wooded valleys might yet be recast as seas.
Nevertheless, once she'd launched her little car onto the deserted, faintly steaming road, it was often only a matter of minutes before there was southbound traffic coming up behind her. Nor was this traffic content to let her set the pace, like one sheep following another on a narrow path; she must drive faster, or be hooted off the single carriageway.
Also, this being an arterial road, she must be alert to all the little capillary paths joining it. Only a few of the junctions were clearly signposted, as if singled out for this distinction by natural selection; the rest were camouflaged by trees. Ignoring junctions was not a good idea, even though Isserley had the right of way: any one of them could be spring-loaded with an impatiently shuddering tractor which, if it leapt into her path, would hardly suffer for its mistake, while she would be strewn across the bitumen.“

 

 
Michel Faber (Den Haag, 13 april 1960)

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