The Pavilion of Forgotten Concubines (Regal House Publishing, 2017) is historical fiction – a favourite genre of author Pim Wiersinga, because the historical framework is what keeps the imagination in check. Says the author: ‘The facts may be right, but the fantasy must be right.’ And: ‘One day, I shall situate current drama in a historical arena.’
His debut, Honingvogels (Eng: ‘Honeybirds’, 1992), is set in Antwerp around 1900. As a middle-aged man, narrator Ludo Kets bumps into an elderly lady in whom he recognizes his erstwhile playmate Josephine. Learning she lives in a hotel, he offers her the hospitality of his apartment. She claims she was in the Forbidden City during the reign of the Guangxu Emperor (1871-1908), a witness to the Hundred Days’ Reform instigated by that emperor. The narrator finds this tale too outlandish to be true and decides to visit the Institut Sinologique at Brussels to investigate matters, much to Josephine’s chagrin… Soon, both he and Josephine find themselves mired in dark intrigue.
Gracchanten (Eng: ‘Gracchae’, 1995) is set in Antiquity. Skamander, son of the last Macedonian rebel against expansionist Rome, will end up in Rome himself. As a tragic actor, he teaches the last of the seditious Gracchi brothers, Gaius, to render his performance dramatic. As he dedicates his memoirs – the substance of this novel – to Gracchus’ mother Cornelia, he realizes the Roman Republic has nothing to offer him; and that his benefactress has morally compromised him beyond repair.
Eleonora en de liefde saw the light of day in 2014. This epic novel is currently being translated in English. Set in Medieval Aquitaine in a milieu of freethinkers, it describes the coming-of-age of Thomas de Blondel, who evolves rapidly from apprentice on the lute to king of the troubadour guild. No fighter by nature, his ‘education sentimentale’ in the arena of love will be tumultuous nevertheless… The work will be published in English as Eleonora’s Apprentice.
Pim Wiersinga lives in Rotterdam and has one son. He is preparing Zena’s arena, a novel set in Alexandria, teeming with events that will lead up one of the swan songs of Antiquity: the cruel murder of mathematician and philosopher Hypatia by a Christian mob.