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Play Dead (Mooi Doodliggen)



Original Language: Dutch | 358 pp. | October 2018

2 Seas represents: French and Portuguese rights.

Over 30,000 copies sold



Play Dead is an ironic and sometimes sarcastic play which must have brought Van der Heijden his share of fun while writing it. — Knack

Surprisingly tense. — Elsevier

Play Dead is vintage Van der Heijden: current topics, commitment and a sense of justice are linked with an ingenious plot and superior style. […] With Play Dead, he shows what a masterly writer can do: to put into words and give meaning to an incomprehensible world. — De Standaard

A contemporary tragedy. — de Volkskrant

A striking image of our twisted political world. […] A literary duel with reality. — Trouw

The MH17, fake news, a Shakespearian tragedy: with Play Dead, A.F. Th. van der Heijden has again delivered a staggering novel that links topicality with classic literature, journalism with writing novels, and passionate love with death. The book is more modest in number of pages than we are used to from this author, but it is as compelling and poignant as ever. — De Telegraaf

A gripping love story. — NRC Handelsblad

A benevolent story, in which we see the master at work. […] Play Dead is a bustling and lively playful novel.  — NRC Handelsblad

May 29th, 2018. During a tumultuous meeting of the UN Security Council in New York, dedicated to the MX17 disaster, a report starts to circulate among the journalists that their Russian colleague Grigori Moerasjko was shot dead in Kiev. A friend of his, the Dutch war reporter Natan Haandrikman, immediately decides to fly from New York to Kiev to assist the widow.

He finds out that Moerasjko has conspired with the Ukrainian secret service to deceive the Russians and has unintentionally turned himself into a spreader of fake news. A mortal sin in the eyes of independent journalism: befriended colleagues all start to shun him, except Haandrikman. The worst thing is that his beloved wife Yulia feels betrayed by Grigori and leaves him.

Dismissed by everyone, he returns to Russia to continue his fearless investigation into the circumstances of ‘MX17’.

A.F.Th. van der Heijden (b. 1951) studied psychology and philosophy in Nijmegen, but after moving to Amsterdam he turned to writing. His first two books appeared under the pseudonym Patrizio Canaponi: the short-story collection A Gondola in the Herengracht, (1978) and the novel The Revolving Door (1979). Van der Heijden won national fame with The Toothless Time, a brilliant seven-volume saga about Amsterdam in the seventies and eighties, published between 1983 and 1996. In 2003 The Movo Tapes appeared, the first volume of a new cycle of novels, entitled Homo duplex, followed by Judgement by Shards (2007).

In 2010 his only child Tonio was killed in a road accident and precisely a year later he published an autobiographical novel, an impressive picture of his son that is imbued with his regret at never having been the father he wanted to be. Tonio (2011) was awarded the Libris Literature Prize and the Readers’ Prize, and this year the author received the ultimate Dutch literary honour, the P.C. Hooft Prize. His work has been translated to English, German, Hungarian, Swedish, Bulgarian, Chinese, Russian, Spanish and Finnish. Play Dead is his latest novel.