Night Train is a shapeshifting amalgam of fable, zen koan, commentary, lyrical essay, and autobiography. As an immersive foray into the unknown, the instability of Snijders’s narrative form produces a trompe-l’oeil effect “indistinguishable from the truth,” giving the reader a sensation of being at once disoriented and illuminated… This notion of reality as unknowable, or “unpsychological,” represents the trademark of Snijders’s fiction, allowing his narrative—as both burrowing animal and spy—to elude conventional expectations and assume an enigmatic depth, despite its compact form.
—Thuy Dinh, Asymptote

Brevity is the soul of beauty in these tiny masterworks of short short fiction

Night Train

Fiction by A. L. Snijders

Translated from the Dutch by Lydia Davis

  • Translated from the Dutch and with an introduction by Lydia Davis

Gorgeously translated by Lydia Davis, the miniature stories of A. L. Snijders might concern a lost shoe, a visit with a bat, fears of travel, a dream of a man who has lost a glass eye: uniting them is their concision and their vivacity. Lydia Davis in her introduction delves into her fascination with the pleasures and challenges of translating from a language relatively new to her. She also extolls Snijders’s “straightforward approach to storytelling, his modesty and his thoughtfulness.”

Selected from many hundreds in the original Dutch, the stories gathered here—humorous, or bizarre, or comfortingly homely—are something like day-book entries, novels-in-brief, philosophical meditations, or events recreated from life, but—inhabiting the borderland between fiction and reality—might best be described as autobiographical mini-fables.

Buy from:

Paperback (published October 5, 2021)

ISBN
9780811228565
Price US
14.95
Trim Size
4.5x7.25
Page Count
128

Ebook

ISBN
9780811228572

A. L. Snijders

Dutch writer

Night Train is a shapeshifting amalgam of fable, zen koan, commentary, lyrical essay, and autobiography. As an immersive foray into the unknown, the instability of Snijders’s narrative form produces a trompe-l’oeil effect “indistinguishable from the truth,” giving the reader a sensation of being at once disoriented and illuminated… This notion of reality as unknowable, or “unpsychological,” represents the trademark of Snijders’s fiction, allowing his narrative—as both burrowing animal and spy—to elude conventional expectations and assume an enigmatic depth, despite its compact form.
—Thuy Dinh, Asymptote
Since the 1980s Snijders has been a widely read newspaper columnist—for a long time he insisted on publishing in his local free paper as well as the national press—but that workaday writerly calling doesn’t capture the strangeness of narrative and tone he smuggles onto the page
—Brian Dillon, 4Columns
Like Davis, Snijders can compose rich, complex life studies in just a handful of sentences, extracting profundity from the absurd, and vice versa. Their sensibilities are so well matched that one can hardly imagine a better translator and interlocutor for him than Davis; that kinship is likely why this collection feels so smartly, exquisitely wrought.
—Jennifer Krasinski, Bookforum
Throughout, there’s a good deal of attention paid to dikes and honeybees, adding up to a multidimensional evocation of rural life in Holland. One has a feeling, at the end of each sketch, most of which fit on one page, that Snijders has left nothing unsaid, summing up each with a perfect declaration.
Publishers Weekly
For all their brevity and mystery, these stories ultimately touch on the way that perception, language, connection, and an appreciation of the natural world give depth, even joy, to life. Deceptively simple, disarmingly charming.
Kirkus
When a story ends with a riddle, or a doubt, as many of his do, the subject of the story becomes, in part, really, Snijders’s own questioning, or, more broadly, our own shared habitual uncertainty, perhaps even the shared uncertainty of our human existence.
—Lydia Davis
Masterpieces: not a word can be missed.
De Volkskrant