When Dutch wood expert Emma Faber, having accepted a new chair at the university in Berlin, takes on a research project, the dating of a violin, she unknowingly sets foot in a world where greed and perverted power rule. Love for eternal beauty, belief in the objectivity of science and admiration for geniality turn out to be based on lying and cheating, fake and fraud. During her thrilling quest for truth, she discovers that the mantra of modern science, counting is knowledge, offers no solution at all. Her journey takes her to Geneva, Oxford and Los Angeles, but also back to her harsh religious upbringing in Amsterdam.
Emma’s story is exemplary of the confusion of ‘modern man in these modern times’, but the history of Stradivari and his successors, closely interlaced with her adventures, shows that in all this time not much has changed. The period between the ‘Genius from Cremona’ and Emma is teeming with criminal benefactors, fraudulent experts and swindling professionals.
The Messiah is a historical show-box, a dazzling journey through space and time, wildly exciting and stunning at the same time.
‘Everywhere and always wrinkles are being smoothened, folds removed, grooves filled. However spiky irregular the surface, after some time it will be leveled, polished, brushed away, licked clean, torn down.’
Julian Winter is the pen name of Wiljan van den Akker and Esther Jansma. The Messiah is their first novel together. They have also translated and published two volumes of poetry of the American poet Mark Strand.
Author of nine volumes of poetry, and several collections of essays and stories, Esther Jansma (1958) is considered one of the major Dutch poets and writers. She has received important literary prizes like the VSB Poetry Prize, the Roland Holst Stipend, the Jan Campert Prize and the C.C.S. Crone Prize. In 2008 Bloodaxe Books published an anthology of her poetry under the title What it is.
Wiljan van den Akker (1954) holds a distinguished chair in modern poetry at Utrecht University. After being Dean of Humanities for almost nine years, he is now Vice-Rector for Research. He is also a poet of two volumes, one of which received the C. Buddingh’ Prize. Together with Gillis Dorleijn he is working on a history of modern Dutch poetry.