The Interpreter from Java

Alfred Birney
The Interpreter from Java
Translated by David Doherty
Head of Zeus
An Apollo Book
Hard cover
Pages: 480
First edition: september 3, 2020
ISBN: 9781788544320 (HB)
Price: £14.99 (depending on edition)
Buy: see here
UK Airports edition (includes delivery to Netherlands)

Alan Noland discovers his father’s memoirs and learns the truth about the violent man he despised.

In this unsparing family history, Alan distils his father’s life in the Dutch East Indies into one furious utterance. He reads about his work as an interpreter during the colonial war in Southeast Asia, his life as an assassin, and his decision to murder Indonesians in the service of the Dutch without any conscience. How he fled to the Netherlands to escape being executed as a traitor and met Alan’s mother soon after. As he reads his father’s story Alan begins to understand how war transformed his father into the monster he knew.

Birney exposes a crucial chapter in Dutch and European history that was deliberately concealed behind the ideological facade of postwar optimism. Readers of this superb novel will find that it reverberates long afterwards in their memory.


‘A work of unbridled, incensed storytelling: an assault on the lazy assumptions of parochial, colonial history and a personal quest for redemption’ – SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST.

‘A novel you won’t forget.’ – TBHONEST

‘A Post Colonial Masterpiece That’s Not To Be Missed’ – The Dorset Book Detective