While exposing the remains of Flemish fascism twenty years after the War, Wonder tracks one man's descent into madness. Victor, a bewildered teacher, pursues a mysterious woman to a castle in a remote village. There he finds himself trapped among a handful of desperate individuals still living out their collaboration with the Nazis. As Victor's sanity begins to crumble, he poses as an expert on their messianic leader, who disappeared at the Russian front but whose return they believe imminent. The rich cadences of the prose and dense emotional texture of characters lost in complex moral labyrinths make Wonder a symphony only Claus could have composed.
The prose, poetry, and paintings of Hugo Claus (1929-2008) were as influential as they were groundbreaking. His novels include The Sorrow of Belgium, his magnum opus of postwar Europe, as well as Desire, The Swordfish, Mild Destruction, Rumors, and The Duck Hunt. His corpus of poetry is immense and stunningly diverse. Claus's painting led him to become involved in the avant-garde Cobra movement. Impossible to pin down. Claus was eclectic and in constant motion; his work is kaleidoscopic. In addition to receiving every major Dutch-language literary prize, Claus received the 2002 Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding for his body of work.
Michael Henry Heim has translated dozens of novels, plays, and essays from a number of languages. His translations include The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, My Century by Günter Grass, Helping Verbs of the Heart by Péter Esterházy, and Thomas Mann¢s Death in Venice. He is the recipient of the American Literary Translators Association Prize, the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translation Prize, and the PEN American Center Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Claus rages against the decay of the physical self while desire remains untamed. From the beginning, his poetry has been marked by an uncommon mix of intelligence and passion, given expression in a medium over which he has such light-fingered control that art becomes invisible. —J.M. Coetzee
While fully aware that such an honorable title can only be used in great exceptions in Flemish literature, I would call Wonder a masterpiece. —Paul de Wispelaere, Vlaamse Gids
Claus's work is just as broad as the soul is deep. —Gerrit Komrij
The greatest writer of my generation. —Remco Campert Fine and ambitious . . . A work of savage satire intensely engaged with the moral and cultural life of the author’s Belgium . . . Packed with asides, allusions, and fierce juxtapositions, a style created to evoke a world sliding into chaos where contrast and contradictions are so grotesque that we can only ‘wonder’. . . . [Wonder is] a reminder of the energy and experimental verve with which so many writers of the Fifties and Sixties (Malaparte, Bernhard, Grass, Böll, Burgess, Pynchon) conjured up [a] disjointed and rapidly complicating world. —The New York Review of Books
To speak today of a still largely-unknown major work on European Fascism . . . seems presumptuous, rather like announcing the existence of, if not a new continent, at least a land mass of strange and significant proportions. But in discussing Wonder, it would be churlish not to admit to an explorer’s exhilaration at discovery. —The National