The Detour

The Detour

3.52 (1,620 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Translated by 

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'A wonderful novel. Wise and generous to a fault of all our human failings and frailties' Lloyd Jones, author of Mister Pip

A Dutch woman rents a remote farm in rural Wales. She says her name is Emilie. She has left her husband, having confessed to an affair.

In Amsterdam, her stunned husband forms a strange partnership with a detective who agrees to help him trace her. They board the ferry to Hull on Christmas Eve.

Back on the farm, a young man out walking with his dog injures himself and stays the night, then ends up staying longer. Yet something is deeply wrong. Does he know what he is getting himself into? And what will happen when her husband and the detective arrive?
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Product details

  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 15mm | 171g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0099563673
  • 9780099563679
  • 181,945

Review Text

This is a novel full of hints and mysteries… [It] will almost certainly keep you routed to your chair until the denouement.
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Review quote

Simple and devastating -- Daniel Hahn * Independent * The Detour is a beautiful, oddly moving work of fiction, a quiet read that lingers long in the mind, like the ghosts that linger in our homes, and in the land around us -- John Burnside * Guardian * This is a novel full of hints and mysteries... [It] will almost certainly keep you routed to your chair until the denouement. -- Connie Bensley * The Spectator * Quietly astonishing -- Jonathan Gibbs * Times Literary Supplement * Intelligently thoughtful -- Eileen Battersby * Irish Times *
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About Gerbrand Bakker

Gerbrand Bakker worked as a subtitler for nature films before becoming a gardener. His debut novel The Twin won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and will soon be made into a film. The Detour won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.
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Rating details

1,620 ratings
3.52 out of 5 stars
5 16% (252)
4 38% (609)
3 33% (530)
2 11% (181)
1 3% (48)

Our customer reviews

A woman arrives from the Netherlands and sets up home in a remote farm she rents from a local. She says her name is Emilie and that she is a lecturer researching the life on Emily Dickinson (1830 - 1886). On arrival she inherits the responsibility for ten geese, but slowly one by one they disappear with the chief suspect being a fox. We learn that the reason she has left her homeland and come to this remote farm is that her life back home had become unbearable after she confessed to an affair with one of her students, which resulted in her loosing her post after it became common knowledge. Back in the Netherlands her husband, who after a jealous outburst which involved accidently setting fire to her office, has formed a strange partnership with the police officer sent to arrest him and now they are both on her tail. Unaware of any of this Emilie meets a young man who appears to have injured himself whilst out walking his dog, he initially stays the night, but ends up staying a lot longer forming a strange relationship with Emilie. It is very hard to describe what is happening in this book, for one thing very little does happen, meaning what you do reveal would need to be covered in spoiler alerts. More important is the realisation that what happens, very little of it is on the surface, it is as though you arrived in a mystery with only part of the facts and that for all your attempts to dig deeper - your only reward is hints, innuendo, and sly suggestion. Making this a book full of strange undercurrents of what ifs and whys, that like some dissonant background music constantly raises your awareness to this tales ambiguities, bringing with it a realisation that isn't a tale or rural Wales with the protagonist living the good life in some primrose embroidered cottage. Although this may be an escape to the country but from what and why? It also makes you conscious that despite what you are reading, there is so much left unsaid, so much that you are not being told. Making this a book that happens more within your head, than it does on the page, leaving you with nothing but those hints and innuendos as your means to interpret what happens on the page. This is a strange quirky little book that skirts around issues of isolation and inner turmoil, that demurely screams it's angst at life's tribulations. This is a quiet tragedy shot through with a dry humour that pierces all the angsts and obfuscation like the sun through the clouds on a welsh hillside. Since reading this book which was on the International Foreign Fiction Prize longlist, it made the cut and is now shortlisted which is wonderful, as it definitely deserves to be there, not just for the tale but also for David Colmer's translation which made this book a beautiful and seamless more
by parrish lantern
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