“In this moving tragicomedy,” an academic hoping to secure his reputation gains “self-knowledge . . . achieved at great cost” in this literary novel. (Publishers Weekly)
Alfred Issendorf is a Dutch geology student obsessed with the thought of dying without a major scientific discovery to his name. Setting off on a geological expedition which brings him to Norway, Issendorf is out to prove that craters in the landscape are actually holes caused by the impact of meteorites. But his trip quickly turns sour: the unearthly atmosphere of the midnight sun makes him paranoid; nights are too hot; clouds of mosquitoes steal his sleep; he is exhausted. Suspicion takes over and he sees secret plots against his scientific work by everyone and everything. Haunted by down-and-out scientists, the ghost of his dead father, and apparitions of ancient animals, Issendorf's character is both naïve and cynical, ambitious and distrustful, grandiose and talentless and his story is one of adventure and discovery, psychology and pride.
Beyond Sleep is a classic of post-war European literature: the saga of a man at the limits of the civilized world.
“An exceptionally well-crafted novel. . . . [the characters are] wryly funny, and in that lies the novel's brilliance. —Booklist
“An unusual and intriguing book, and a welcome introduction to the work of a neglected 20th-century master. —Kirkus Reviews
"A novel of worldly disengagement trembling on the edge of tragedy, all the more comic for being related in Hermans' best poker-faced manner" —J.M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize Laureate