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Zwart Water - Black Water - 2011

This remarkable mixture of love story, thriller, father-daughter novel, and document on the violent times in which we live, is set in a variety of locations, including Kinshasa, Liberia, Chile, Kosovo and a favela in Rio de Janeiro. A fifteen-year-old girl is determined to understand why her father was so obsessed with visiting problematic countries. She is confronted with old love affairs, betrayal, boundless ambition, and half-truths. The result is a vicious act of revenge devised by a group of young Islamic extremists. As often, catharsis isn’t always found where we expect it.


‘Black Water’ is a many-facetted thriller with more than one connecting thread holding the story together. Van Laerhoven is renowned for his evocative writing style, and with ‘Black Water’ he has excelled himself.”
Eva Krap on

 “Bob Van Laerhoven has penned a magnificent literary novel. ‘Black Water’ is a compelling read in which tension abounds in a context of crime, father-daughter relationships, love, adventure.  A splendid story that captivates from the first word to the last, and refuses to let you go long after you’ve finished it.”
— De Boekenkast

 “Stories that tumble over and through one another like a kaleidoscope, yet it’s still easy to follow. Each character has his or own narrative style. Some bombastic, others straightforward; some bitter, others resigned. An intense book about the sometimes painful love between a father and his daughter. A love that can be stronger than one thinks. Bob van Laerhoven’s writing skills are to be applauded.”
— De leestafel

“Bob van Laerhoven explores the boundaries of the crime genre. He already demonstrated this in his complex ‘Terug naar Hiroshima – Return to Hiroshima’ and in ‘Black Water’ he does it again. The author has published a book in which Islam is the subject of serious critique.”
John Vervoort:  Three Star Book in the Standaard der Letteren

“‘Black Water’ is a compelling novel about love, father-daughter relationships, crime, excitement and adventure, and at the same time a reflection of the violent times in which we live. Far from being an unfounded attack on Islam, the novel tries to show via its young protagonists how an extreme expression of ‘faith’, fuelled by an amalgamation of politics and religion that presents itself as ‘pure’, can ultimately lead to excesses.”

"Black Water is a profound and in many aspects even poetic-philosopical novel. It’s also a contemporary thriller about war, friendship and deceit.  In his younger years, Bob Van Laerhoven was  a real globetrotter and this is reflected in the novel. The action developes in countries like Liberia, Congo and Kosovo. With "Black Water", Van Laerhoven wrote a father-daughter novel that enriches the Dutch literature and that has everything to shine internationally as a movie."

- James Vandermeersch on Facebook/Boekenkast and on

"Clearly, the essence of the novel is the quest of daughter Moran for knowledge of the past of her father, the successful thriller writer and globetrotter Carl Visser, and consequently also for who she is  in this chaotic World. The point of view (hidden in the toilet of the hospital room of her father, Moran listens to the stories that his friends tell him, hoping to wake him from his coma)is truly original.  Bit by bit, different  periods and aspects of Visser’s life are being presented  to the reader. A subtle accomplishment, because the reader gradually starts to feel that also he is sitting in the hospital room. A touch of voyeurism is always there. At the end, the different tales flow together, creating a deep understanding of Visser and his relationship with his surroundings and his past. (…) All together, this is a rousing story that will attract a broad readership."

- Wim Van Loock –

"The story in Black Water is intricately plotted  and keeps the reader in a tight grip until the bitter end. With Black Water, Van Laerhoven has wrought a novel in cast-iron, the Bullhead of Flemish literature and a sublime token of his great talent. The fact that the reader leaves the novel with regret, says it all. So I’m definitely planning to read it again to savour the colourful characters and their fascinating stories. A masterpiece made in Flanders."

- André Oyen - and

I had trouble putting the novel aside when reading. Bob Van Laerhoven has written such an intriguing story. Blood sweat and tears have (often literally) been poured in and that made Black Water  a very special reading experience.

 -Diane Kooistra -

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