In Suriname, off the northeastern coast of South America, Grandma Bee has many children who have given her many more grandchildren. They are all a mix of Creole, Maroon, white, Indian, Chinese, Javanese, indigenous, and Jewish backgrounds. Some of her descendants have cut off all contact, died, or been institutionalized for insanity; and now one of her favorite granddaughters, Heli, has been sent away to the Netherlands, banished because of an affair with her white, married teacher.
And Grandma Bee is also dying, the cough settled deep in her lungs. The approaching end and the loss of Heli lead her to unearth old secrets and trace the thinning strands of the connections between her family members, even those who have done long-unspoken horrors to each other. And ultimately, there's only one question Bee must answer: What is a family? If the people are spread across the world, don't know each other, don't share a heritage, and don't even look similar, what bond will be left once Grandma Bee has died?
A moving portrait of a woman finding peace in the legacy that is her daughters and granddaughters, Off-White, by National Book Award longlisted Astrid Roemer, brilliantly translated by Lucy Scott and David McKay, is also a searing and complex portrait of male violence, the legacy of colonialism, and a probing dismantling of what it means to be "White". Written over a nearly 20-year break from publishing, Off-White is another masterpiece from the only Surinamese author to ever win the Dutch Literature Award, the most prestigious award given to a writer of Dutch.
David McKay is a literary translator in The Hague, best known for his translations of novels by the Flemish author Stefan Hertmans, including The Ascent. Other recent publications include Charlotte van den Broeck's Bold Ventures, described in the New York Times as "a small marvel: a monument to human beings continuing to reach for the skies." He has been shortlisted for various translation prizes and won the Vondel Prize for Hertmans's War and Turpentine. He will serve as the American Literary Translators Association Dutch-English mentor for the second time in 2023. In recent years, he has translated work by various Dutch and Flemish playwrights, including Freek Mariën, Anna Carlier, Abke Haring and Jibbe Willems. His translation of Mariën's The Wetsuitman is being premiered in 2022 by The Cherry Arts (Ithaca, NY) and Foreign Affairs (London) and has been published in The Mercurian.
- Publisher: Two Lines Press (April 9, 2024)
- Language: English
- Paperback: 377 pages
- ISBN-10: 1949641252
- ISBN-13: 9781949641257
- Item Weight: 1.11 pounds
- Dimensions: 5 x 8 inches