Every novelist deserves a book like this: well thought through and carefully considered, from beginning to end – from left to right and from bottom to top – and hence most definitely not dull. Though in the publisher’s catalogue it is presented as a luxury paperback, it’s been bound in the cheapest possible way: in a thermoplastic binding with no groove. Still, it falls open well and is comfortable to hold. At the same time it’s a rare example of a book meant for reading in which the interior is nicely in tune with the exterior. The seductive typographical cover – if we overlook the friendship chain with its tiny kink – has some sophisticated details that are a nod towards the extremely sober covers of the French publishing house of Gallimard. The Caslon by type designer Carol Twombly is a good choice for the body face. 

A mysterious photograph runs from the front inside cover through the back to the back cover, further whetting one’s appetite to begin with the story even if only to discover precisely what it is that we see in the picture. Sadly this doesn’t actually become clear even when we’ve finished reading the novel. Spoiler alert: when we asked, we were told it was two different sorts of clay that had been kneaded together. This is meant to represent the relationship between the two women.


Specially for this book the publishers De Bezige Bij devised a competition for students at the Rietveld Academie. This resulted in a ‘total concept’ in which design and production were nicely integrated. 

Sadly this was not the case in the reprint. We hope the initial approach will be emulated in other editions of novels and other works. This doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of a competition for students at an art college: we are quite sure very many graphic designers are perfectly able to cope with such a brief.


Author Alma Mathijsen

Year 2017

Language Dutch

Edited by Suzanne Holtzer

Publisher De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam

Designer Elina Birkehag, Elisabeth Rafstedt, Amsterdam; Aard Bakker, Amsterdam

Printer Bariet Ten Brink, Meppel; printing on the edges by Critis Prints and Shapes, Beernem (BE)

Binder Bariet Ten Brink, Meppel

Size 135 x 215 x 16

Number of pages 224 p.

Print run 3,000

Price € € 19.99

ISBN 978 90 234 9940 4

Font Caslon (Adobe)

Binding style unsewn soft cover

Material woodfree Schleipen Werckdruck blaulichweiß 2.0 (Cordier Spezialpapier) (interior); 260gsm Woodstock Giallo (Fedrigoni) (cover)