Auke Kok / Auke Kok – Tough Guy

Auke Kok – Tough Guy

Auke Kok – Tough Guy

About the book

Tough Guy follows a year in the life of Hidde, a twelve-year-old boy in a seemingly fun but in fact unhappy family. His father can unexpectedly erupt in rage, his fickle mother doesn’t offer any support. Family members mislead one another, lie if it suits them. Outside, when playing football with his friends, Hidde feels safer than at home. He steadily becomes a daydreamer and lifts off into fantasies about heroic feats with the ball, just as he arms himself with silence, with observations of his rebellious brother, who is beaten by their father and humiliated. In that way he survives, through brains and calculating behaviour – a far cry from his heroes on the professional football team that is on its way to a world championship that year, 1969. Hidde is not nearly as tough as his idols in the stadiums. Or is he?

If we had stayed in that ordinary house, in the middle of a row, everything would have gone differently. Wedged in and no way out: it was maybe the best thing for us. But we left and went to live in a big, strange house, on the other side of the tracks in a village. This house, free-standing, my mom says with emphasis, has windows on all sides. Sometimes I think it’s how everything that used to be good crawled out, flew away between the high trees and thatched roofs.


Auke Kok (b. 1956) is a journalist, non-fiction author and city chronicler for the daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad. His previous books include The Traitor: The Life and Death of Anton van der Waals, 1974: We Were The Best, This Was Veronica: History of a Pirate, and 1988: We Loved Oranje. In 2016, he published 1936: We Went To Berlin and in 2019 a biography of Johan Cruijff, , which recently has been published in Spanish and will be published in English next year. Tough Guy is his first novel.

© Frank Ruiter

Additional book information

  • Novel
  • ISBN 9789403122618
  • Number of pages: 304
  • World rights: De Bezige Bij
  • Price: €23,99