The Invisible Ones

(De Onzichtbaren)

Karel G. Van Loon

The Invisible Ones

In the evening we will sit on the veranda and I will tell you about the events that have made me who I am: a blind refugee from Burma in a camp in the Thai jungle. Through my life story I will show you my country, the way you can see the whole garden in a dewdrop.

Min Thien, a lawyer in a sleepy provincial town in Burma, does all he can to avoid confrontations with the military regime of his country. But one bad day he incurs the wrath of the district commander. From that moment on, he is shadowed, intimidated and thwarted. When his wife, after many barren years, becomes pregnant, he decides that he wants a different future for his child. In fleeing his country, he loses everything that is precious to him: his wife, his unborn child, and the sight in the only good eye he had left.

The Invisible ones is a gripping novel about the life of a refugee. Hair-raising descriptions of the fate of Burma’s political prisoners alternate with Buddhist mythical stories and moving memories of a carefree childhood. And just like the protagonists in van Loon’s previous novels, Min Thien is also searching for the true nature of love.

‘A timely novel by this talented Dutchman, The Invisible Ones, sensitive to the complexities of Burmese life, is as compelling an example of witness fiction as one might find.’ Independent

‘A beautiful novel.’ De Telegraaf

‘A lyrical and evocative portrait’ Irrawaddy


  • Veen NL (original publisher)
  • Gustav Kiepenheuer Germany
  • Norstedts Sweden
  • Arcadia Books UK & USA
  • Zalozba Tuma Slovenia

Material: Dutch edition (256 pages); German edition; English edition.