Jan Cremer / Jan Cremer – Canaille

Jan Cremer – Canaille

Jan Cremer – Canaille


About the book

Canaille doesn’t just stand for bad people, for bad women; Canaille is a plague, a woodworm that slowly eats away at everything. Not least of all the world of art and culture. Love, too, is gnawed at. It eats its way through everything and, over time, brings entire buildings crashing down.

The year is 1967. After the end of his hopeless relationship with top model Loes Hamel, Jan Cremer meets a prima ballerina from the New York City ballet world while in America. She becomes his new great love. Cremer sets himself the task of providing her and their newborn daughter a house of their own. In Cape Cod they briefly manage to lead an idyllic family life that neither of them has known. However, a lack of cash and the allure of other women eventually drive them to his stepparents’ rigid household in Antwerp. There, he finds himself at the mercy of the Canaille. Cremer feels the bond between him and his ballerina slowly dissolve and discovers a side of his lover he did not think he would come to know, one that leads him to the edge of an abyss.

On stage she was a cross between a swallowtail and a cheetah. So wonderfully beautiful and graceful in the way she moved, fluttering like a butterfly, so light and tender as if gravity didn’t exist for her. Only immediately thereafter to slide across the boards like a predator in search of prey. My new love, my star, my prima ballerina, my Perrine. She was a stirring beauty on stage. When I went to see her dance in the role of a dying swan, the audience in the Lincoln Center looked on breathlessly, as if in that moment time stood forever still, at which their emotion brought them to tears and the handkerchiefs came out.

Press on previous work:

Cremer is once again in tremendous form. The descriptions of sex are totally inspiring and often terribly funny. - De Groene Amsterdammer


Jan Cremer (b. 1940) has written, aside from the I, Jan Cremer cycle and other titles, the novel The Huns (2005), the collection of travel stories The Wild Horizon (2003), Lost Poems (2004) and Letters 1956-1996 (2005). Fernweh was published in 2016, and 2017 saw the publication of Sirens – the heartrending story of the love between Loesje Hamel and Jan Cremer, as told through their love letters.

(c) Sacha de Boer

Additional book information

  • Memoir
  • ISBN 9789403147000
  • Number of pages: 272
  • World rights: De Bezige Bij
  • Price: €22,90