Bakker gained a significant international reputation through his sensitive, restrained characterisation and evocative descriptions of largely rural settings. With his long-awaited fourth novel, set mainly in Amsterdam, he has branched off in a new direction by introducing metafictional and documentary elements.
The book’s main character is Simon, a third-generation hairdresser, who has inherited his grandfather’s salon and turned it into a barber shop. Simon never knew his father, who was a passenger on one of the two planes that crashed into each other in Tenerife in 1977.
Parallel to this, one of Simon’s customers, a writer, enlists Simon’s help for the novel he is writing about a barber. When Simon and the writer end up researching the plane crash in tandem, reality and fiction become entangled. What has the status of reality within the fiction and what is the fictional writer’s fantasy? Bakker tells the story with such economical calm and complete naturalness that the tension never wanes and the reader finishes with a strong sense of these ordinary, flawed people.