Jan Brokken (1949) is a Dutch writer known for his ability to tell the tales of the great protagonists of the literary and musical world. A journalist and traveller, he has published successful travel diaries, novels and stories. The press has often put him together with authors like Graham Greene and Bruce Chatwin by virtue of his prose, which is somewhere between narrative journalism, fiction and biography. He made his debut in 1984 with the novel "De provincie", but it was largely due to books such as "Jungle Rudy" and "In het huis van de dichter" that he gained a large international audience. The former, praised by the New York Times as a masterpiece of narrative essay writing, is the story of the explorer Rudolph Truffino and his strong links to Venezuela; the latter explores the life of the Russian pianist Yuri Egorov, which died from Aids at the age of 33. With 'Baltic Souls", Brokken takes a journey into the soul and forgotten diasporas of the Baltic states, who have produced an amazing mix of brilliant figures in twentieth century culture such as Mark Rothko, Hannah Arendt, Romain Gary and Gidon Kremer. The recent "The Cossack Garden" (2016) is a novel that uses letters, documents and memoirs the spiritual affinity between Fyodor Dostoyevsky and the young Russian baron Alexander von Wrangel, while "De gloed van Sint-Petersburg" (2017) is a poetic account of decades of walks taken to rediscover the legendary city on the banks of the Neva.
(photo: © Leonardo Cendamo)