The Dutch Siberia
Novel, Uitgeverij De
2014, 2nd edition
Available only in
‘An extraordinary love story about two
people in their more matured days'
When no pastor has been able to
survive there, Peter Pex, a Franciscan
from Haarlem, is sent to 'the worst
village in the Netherlands': the remote
prison village of Veenhuizen. He arrives
there in 1936 and is employed by a
government institution. On his first day,
racing around on predecessor's bicycle,
he is amazed by this stifling, private
society. Full of spirit, he sets to work and
tries to grasp the hierarchical structure
of the village.
During World War II, Peter and his
housekeeper end up in the resistance.
They have a secret love affair, which
gets more and more radical and
complicated, just like the situation in
Veenhuizen, where, after 1945, even
well-known war criminals enjoy a lot of
freedom. The Dutch Siberia is an edgy
tale about the rise and fall of a man
who can only be himself at night.
Mariët Meester grew up in Veenhuizen,
a historical prison village which was for
a long time closed to outsiders. In order
to write this book, she lived in the priory
for sixteen months, which happens to
be the backdrop to this story.
The Dutch Siberia is her seventh novel.
Besides fiction, Meester also writes non-
fiction like De mythische oom (The
Mythical Uncle, De Arbeiderspers 2012),
about her deeply religious family in the