Among the major Dutch writers of recent years, Herman Koch is also known to international audiences through highly successful novels such as The Dinner, Summer House with Swimming Pool, Odessa Star and Dear Mr. M., in which he exposed the hypocrisy and anger smoldering under the ashes of a society long considered among the most open and welcoming of Europe. But today the racist right is set to become the main protagonist in Wednesday’s general election.
In your latest novel, Dear Mr. M., two characters reflect on the fact that Dutch society is becoming increasingly attracted to the ideas of the extreme right. Will the elections go well?
In fact, the Dutch have always been proud of their tolerant viewpoint, and these people are today still in the majority. The problem is that this same tolerance in moments of difficulty or disorientation when things go wrong can end up appearing as a kind of luxury. So, yes, I believe that the extreme right will come out ahead in many parts of the country, although, in the absence of political allies, will fortunately not be able to come to power.