Downloaded over 70,000 times in Holland (published by publishing house Augustus).
Aliefka is the first Dutch author to crowd-fund the translation of a published novel, and to make use of self-publishing digital platforms: amazon, iBooks, kobo.
Publisher Livros de Safra has bought the rights for Brazil, where it will soon be published.
The Consul General's Wife has been approved for and listed on the Awesome Indies website.
Russell Shorto, author and contributing writer for New York Times Magazine.
"The Consul General’s Wife is set in the rarified world of Dutch diplomats, but the expertly drawn characters who inhabit it represent a much broader spectrum of humanity. Urbane, worldly, world-weary, scheming: they seem ultimate creatures of our age. Then again, Aliefka’s Bijlsma’s rich novel calls to mind most of all the work of Graham Greene--which suggests that we are dealing with a category of human experience that is timeless."
Emma Garman reviews book for NY Magazine and Words Without Borders.
"The sad and tragi-comic tale of an aging diplomat and his downfall, which reverberates through the lives of those around him, The Consul General’s Wife is an astute portrait of universal human foibles, set against the intriguingly unfamiliar backdrop of modern Embassy life." Read the full interview: here
Scott Pack, reviewer and author.
"The Consul General's Wife is a bleak, but often funny, account of one man's decline. [...]
It is uncomfortable reading at times, but also quite captivating. I was reminded of Borgen in places because of the look inside the home lives of political individuals, but most of all of Thomas Kennedy's Falling Sideways which I read earlier in the year." Read the full review here.
Kathleen Jones, reviewer and author.
"The novel is very, very well written - a wonderful exploration of the relationships between five people - Melchior, Leandra, Tygo, Nikki and Mercy. The book touches on some interesting subjects and makes the reader think about a lot of different issues. There is more than one type of colonialisation - and what exactly is national identity? To what extent are we the product of our childhoods? How are the mind and body interlinked?" Read the full review here.
David Weber, professor in screenwriting at USC and screenwriter, LA.
"Really terrific, and I'm not talking about the translation (though that's good too). I love the tone and the characters. The organization man who's a victim of his own intelligence, good in spite of himself, has always been one I've found intriguing."
Eli Gottlieb, author, NY.
"...the build is slow and steady and the feeling of a kind of brooding, growing perversity is already palpable. SOMETHING is going to happen to these people, and it's not clear what. Meanwhile, the lovely modelling of space-time holds the reader's attentions. It's one of those rare books which seems concentrically arranged around an absence, and this absence functions like a gravitational field of sorts, drawing the reader in. The narrative eye is light, quick, astute."
Melchior Steenbergen is leading an idyllic life. An elite member of Holland’s diplomatic corps, he is the Consul General in Rio, with a sweeping view of the Ipanema bay from his official residence, and a beautiful wife 20 years his junior. His trustworthy maid, Mercy from Ghana, attends to his every need. His days are measured by official dinners, artistic gatherings; events where when he speaks, people listen, and hang on his every word. Melchior earned this life. At 59, his time as a diplomat is winding down, but he expects to put one more feather in his cap: an ambassadorship. Paris, perhaps. Why not?
But Melchior’s glorious world is a façade, a house of cards, and sharp winds are starting to blow.
Just a few months ago, his young wife became ill. Chronic fatigue syndrome, or that’s the diagnosis. It means she spends most of her days in bed, and attending the most minor event is always a major ordeal. Melchior knows he should be nothing but supportive, for as long as it takes. But still…
And worse yet, a new second-in-command has been sent, unrequested, from the home office in Holland. Melchior has tried to explain – oh so patiently – that “Tygo,” a humourless bureaucrat, will be nothing but trouble for him – but his commander insists he take the young man on. It’s a bureaucratic trap, and Melchior’s deluded self-confidence plunges him right into it. As the jaws tighten around him, Melchior sews his own self-destruction. There are still the perks of office, after all: the dinners and trips, the driver, the household staff, the status, for now.
The Consul General’s Wife is the story of a man, elegant and dignified, unable to recognize his own flaws. Set against the mystical and unforgiving city of Rio, the novel is a comedy about a dying generation. And a tragedy about a man who has only a few days left to wake up.
"My friend @aliefka The Consul General's Wife, downloaded 70,000 times in Holland, Now in English http://amzn.to/OWRehX - THIS BOOK ROCKS!" tfpHumorBlog
"Just finished reading Aliefka's novel and felt I was right back into holiday reading page turning mode. This is a really strong story that tightens its grip on you as you move through the pages towards its soulful, horrifying and tragic end. A wonderful read reminiscent of a Graham Greene, Anita Brookner or Jeanette Winterson novel. If you're looking for a really good read- this is the one!" Charles Liburd, producer and screenwriter. On Facebook.
"I really enjoyed this book. The life of diplomat Melchior is stripped of all pretences in a controlled and subtle way. Very patiently, layer after layer. The opportunism is apparent and leads to its dramatic end. Sadly comical. Leandra is the opposite and ultimately she survives the whole ordeal in a better way. I recommend this book, especially to anyone who wants to cast a glance into the world of Foreign Affairs. It may seem to be about the old school, but it is still the dominating culture and is enforced by a group of people who lead lives far away and who aren't always held in check. This creates colourful characters. Another interesting aspect is how the culture change in that type of world resonates in daily life, especially when one doesn't see it coming. Great book and looking forward to the next!" P. Taminiau, marketeer. On amazon.
"A painstakingly honest look behind the scenes of a department, that was somehow overlooked by the code of sanity." R. Mollinger, diplomat. On bol.com.
"I couldn't put it down. Melchior, the narcissist main character, is delicately countered by his wife Leandra. And then there's Nikki's perception, the intern, which balances the novel by stripping it of judgement. Her position almost seems like a Greek chorus. The post-colonial theme is reflected by the relationships between the housekeeper from Ghana who is called Mercy and Leandra. Mercy's lifelong obedience to Melchior leads to a painful, dramatic climax. Very sad. As a woman in this global world, I sympathize with these themes and aspects. And as a reader, you can't help but love the flamboyant main character, despite his flaws. I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in man's universal flaws, as well as a curiosity regarding the effects of globalization on who we are." Jennifer Peersman, children's book author. On amazon.
"A wonderful tragic comedy, which comes down hard on its characters but does so with great sense of detail and analysis. The life of a diplomat in Rio de Janeiro is typified through sharp observations and powerful dialogue, written from within. I recommend it! " Pieter Bart Korthuis, screenwriter and author. On amazon.
"The main ...
Reviews AND INTERVIEWS
- REVIEW ON literary blog: What am I reading?, March 2013. Kathleen Jones says: "The author explores the physiology and psychology of ME with great insight. Leandra is being destroyed by it. But she is determined to regain her health and get her life back. Her long sojourn in solitude forces her to think very deeply about her life and her career and what kind of future she wants to have. The novel is very, very well written - a wonderful exploration of the relationships between five people - Melchior, Leandra, Tygo, Nikki and Mercy. The book touches on some interesting subjects and makes the reader think about a lot of different issues. There is more than one type of colonialisation - and what exactly is national identity? To what extent are we the product of our childhoods? How are the mind and body interlinked?" Read more: here
- REVIEW ON Me and My Big Mouth, November 2012. Scott Pack says: "The Consul General's Wife is a bleak, but often funny, account of one man's decline. Melchior is proud, an arrogant man who doesn't take kindly to this young upstart from back home. He has his eyes on the vacant ambassador's job in Paris and won't let anything stand in his way. Unfortunately for him, lots of things, including his sick wife, are doing just that. If you like a bit of redemption in your novels then this may not be for you. It really is quite dark. This is a hard trick to pull off but I reckon the author cracks it. It is uncomfortable reading at times, but also quite captivating. I was reminded of Borgen in places because of the look inside the home lives of political individuals, but most of all of Th... more