The new calendar starts on Friday. “We’re having a guest,” says Mams to Hanno and Tim. “This might be inconvenient,” Hanno thought. He is even more shocked when he finds out who he is. Ben, a girl in his class. “Your mother’s so tired, Hanno, I’d like to give between your room,” Mams explains. Hano’s outfits ideas. Why here, why between, why all this time, why my room, what would Lacey and Stan say, what would the footballers think?
The strengths of Dutch writer Anjan Meraas’ novel Hanno and the Emergencies are already evident in the first five pages: the immediacy and believability of the story. We sit at the table when Hanno’s mother and Tim announce the new guest, we feel Hanno, who is throwing his thoughts at us unfiltered. We accompany the ten-year-old for the next three weeks, during which Ben resists at first, even belittling her in front of his classmates because he thinks the girl is favored by her parents–and how he ends up befriending her.
Inter afraid of dirt. She claims to be a princess
The main character in the process is Kees bike mechanic, whom Hanno trusts and appreciates: “Kees is so lucky. Big workshop just him alone, always the radio, eating with dirty hands, a cupboard full of gears, a pressure bike pump and a full cookie bowl.” Some time ago, Kees gave Hano the idea of making iron animals from discarded bicycle parts, which is now Hano’s favorite pastime. When Hanno tells the bike mechanic his concerns, Case advises him to take a few days to see what happens. Hanno follows the advice and pronounces his notes in a dictation machine: Ben is afraid of dirt. It may smell foul. She should not eat the plate empty. She claims to be a princess.
Is that correct? Stan and Lacey tell Hanno’s class to search Ben’s room (which is actually Hanu) for evidence of her being a princess. Hanno feels this isn’t right, but he does it anyway. Although he did not find a crown, he did find another treasure: a red exercise book with a few neatly written lines and many crossed out words. Poems?
Pien tells Hanno what is going on and what these verses have to do with Ben’s longing for her father, who has disappeared in Poland. Here they also talk about Ben’s mother. Hanno now realizes that she is by no means “lazy” because she is resting in a “hotel”, but the loss of her husband has made her ill.
In the end, it is Kiss who resolves the misunderstanding about the identity of Ben’s father, thus enabling her to free herself from him. This also changes her relationship with Hanu. Hanno himself develops an understanding of the girl’s situation.
In the last pages of the book we read the biography of the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska, who died in Krakow in 2012, as well as the biography of the girl Ben van Putten. Her poems, which are behind every chapter in the narration and inspired by Wislawa Szymborska, are said to have been recently published in The Now Poems Book. Anyone looking at the two poets will quickly find Wisława Szymborska. She is considered one of the most important poets in Poland and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996. And between Van Putin? Anyone looking for them will not find them. between silhouette.
The play by reality and fiction, which Anjan Meras also uses in her story in relation to Bean’s father, finds its climax in these two autobiographies, who stand side by side on equal footing. Penn’s poems are printed, as they appeared in the “Now” Poems folder or as they may appear, in their entirety.
This slender little book, embellished by Lindy Vass with many iron animals with a few brushstrokes and translated from Dutch to German by Andrea Klotman, is poetic, original and intelligent, an unconditional recommendation for everyone between ninety-nine years of age.