Hagar Peeters / Hagar Peeters – Malva

Hagar Peeters – Malva

Hagar Peeters – Malva

Rights sold

  • Rey Naranjo Editores (Columbia)
  • Actes Sud (France)
  • Wallstein Verlag (Germany)
  • Dar al Saqi (Lebanon)
  • DoppelHouse Press (United States of America)


Read a sample translation of Malva.


About the book

Malva is the daughter of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. She was born with hydrocephalus and soon disowned by her father. She lived in a foster family in the Netherlands and died during the Second World War at the age of eight.

Hagar Peeters has Malva, after her dead, pick up the pen that her father let slip from his hand when he died. She gives the girl a voice, and a fascinating life in which she meets kindred spirits with whom, as wise as she is witty, she comments on life on earth.

Along with them, Malva tries to find an answer to the question of how it came about that Neruda, the irreproachable hero who stood up for the forgotten and downtrodden, denied the existence of his own daughter. She asks Hagar Peeters, whose father was a journalist in Chile when Neruda died, to be her ghost writer.

It only takes half a page to realize that the poet Hagar Peeters is also a novelist of exceptional ability. (…) The novel is a scintillating bomb of stylistic fireworks. Peeters the novelist draws on the finesse of Peeters the poet – a baroque poetic voice that is new and fresh and more than welcome in Dutch literature. – NRC Handelsblad ****

Hagar Peeters brings Malva to life, with a masterful narrative voice. (...) In her debut, Peeters shows how great the power of imagination can be and, above all, how to tell a story. – Het Parool ****

Incandescent and evocative debut novel. (...) The narrator veers from anger to yearning to acceptance and back again, before closing with a beautiful, melancholy final chord that demonstrates to the full the power, solace and purpose of poetry and imagination in general, and of this dazzling debut novel in particular. - Trouw

A long, lyrical and miraculously natural-sounding letter to father Neruda, an attempt to reach him even after his death by telling him her life story, right to its bitter end. - de Volkskrant

Marvellous surrealist novel (...), strongly reminiscent of Allende and Marquez (...), a fascinating patchwork of fiction and history. - De Telegraaf

Intoxicating language saturated with warm hues that’s allowed to rustle like a veiled wedding dress, and you have a lavish novel by a gifted poet. Peeters should make more excursions into prose.’ - De Morgen ****

There are many parallels between the mute Malva and the language- and literature-loving Peeters in this father-daughter book full of yearning for recognition. - De Limburger ****

Malva is patently written by a poet. – Elsevier ****

Perhaps one of the most intriguing novelistic debuts to come out of the Dutch-speaking region this autumn. – HUMO *** (3 stars out of 4)

Hagar Peeters impresses with poetic prose full of magical realism, biographical details and psychological insight. - Opzij

Peeters cleverly unravels the myth surrounding Neruda without knocking him off his pedestal. An original biographical novel. Written, as befits a poet, in sparkling language. – JAN


Hagar Peeters (b. 1972) has published several volumes of poetry: Enough Poems Written About Love Today (1999), Suitcases of Sea Air (2003), Runner of Light (2008) and Maturity (2011). She has won awards including the J.C. Bloem Poetry Prize, the Jo Peters Poetry Prize and the Poetry Day Prize, and was shortlisted for the position of Dutch Poet Laureate.

© Koos Breukel

Additional book information

  • Novel
  • ISBN 978-90-234-9266-5
  • Number of pages: 240
  • World Rights: De Bezige Bij
  • Price: € 19,90