A young Dutch geologist, Alfred Issendorf, is determined to win fame for making a great discovery. To this end he joins a small geological expedition to the far north of Norway where he hopes to be the first to identify craters made by meteorites in the landscape. It is a harsh and deserted environment, way beyond civilisation, which brings out all the faultlines in the group of young men and in Alfred's character. The tribulations mount- Alfred is unable to procure crucial aerial photographs, he falls on rocks, is soaked in a river, and is beset by mosquitoes and insomnia; the tent leaks appallingly. He is not a natural athlete, feeling incapable and superfluous to the group's needs. Alfred becomes desperate and paranoid, suspecting the others are leagued in conspiracy against him. Haunted by the ghost of his scientist father, unable to escape the looming influence of his mother, and anxious to complete the thesis that will make his name, Alfred's preoccupations multiply in this wilderness. As, piece by piece, his equipment is lost or ruined and his thinking becomes ever more disjointed, he moves towards the final act of vanity which will trigger a catastrophe. Sleep No
Willem Frederik Hermans was born in Amsterdam in 1921 and studied physical geography before becoming a lecturer at Groningen University. Disaffected with academia and his native country, he took up residence in Paris in 1973. A champion of unadorned style, he is the author of numerous novels, essays, plays and poems, and is considered one of the greatest post-war European writers. His war novel The Dark Room of Damocles will be published by Harvill Secker in 2007. He died in 1995.