Martin Michael Driessen

Winner of The Eci Literature Prize
Winner of The Readers Prize
Winner of The Inktaap
Shortlisted for The Fintro Literature Prize
Nominated for The Halewijn Prijs


‘Those who acknowledge Georges Simenon’s greatness, and enjoy Pascal Garnier at his most bleakly playful, will take a grim delight in Rivers. Driessen is as hard, as uncompromising – and as entertaining – as they come.’ John Banville

‘These extraordinary stories have little tinctures of Maupassant and Conrad but the main ingredient is the powerful talent of Driessen himself. These are classically realized works of art, of impressive force and beauty.’ Sebastian Barry

‘Dutch theater director, translator, and writer Driessen scales the depths and sounds of distinct perspectives on several European waterways in this peculiar and alarming set of three stories. To detox from years of alcohol abuse and to train for his next role, an actor makes a solo canoe trek down the France’s Aisne River, only to encounter his own temperament at its worst and nature’s violence. An homage to the logging industry that has flourished along the Rhine for generations marks the book’s middle portion, as Dreissen follows a pair of lifelong workmates as they ride a long log barge to the North Sea, and details their lives and the industry in transition. Finally, a centuries-spanning dispute over land between two families—one Catholic, the other Huguenot—finds a fulcrum in an unspectacular, unnamed creek. Told from multiple viewpoints as the families unearth past wrongs and regrets, this tale reveals different aspects of the conflict. Driessen’s noteworthy collection displays humanity at its best and worst in relation to the waters his characters depend on for their lives, as we all are sustained by the earth’s rivers and streams.’ Booklist USA


‘Dutch writer Martin Michael Driessen’s novel, Rivers, was published originally in 2016 to critical acclaim, and it won the prestigious ECI Literature Prize. Three novellas weave together, each centered on a particular river. The first tale, All Comes to Naught, tells the story of an alcoholic actor who must combat his demons along the storm-swollen Aisne in north-eastern France. The second story, Voyage to the Moon, is set along the Main and Rhine Rivers in Germany and concerns a kind-hearted logger who has but one dream: to travel with the logs all the way to where the rivers end in the great North Sea. The third novella, He Shall Be Purified by Fire, Water, Air and Earth, is set in Brittany and concerns two families divided by religion and an unnamed stream. These families manage to sustain a centuries-old feud and the constantly shifting flow of water that separates them proves too much for them to overcome. The three stories span countries and eras—from the 18th to the 20th century—and are connected by the power of water, the moving flow of rivers that can bring life but also take it away. The stories’ power comes from the restraint the writer uses as he seems to hold each and every word hostage until that word can prove its worth. As a result, the slow build of pressure seems more like a rising tide than water bursting from a dam. These stories will make you struggle with ideas as well as plot points. Fascinating work.’ Historical Novel Society USA


‘Elegant and measured, the three tales collected here are also admirably tough-minded; Dutch author Driessen is an opera and theater director, and he offers a sure sense of unfolding drama. In “Fleuve Sauvage: All Comes to Naught,” a vainglorious actor on the verge of cirrhosis of the liver paddles down a river to ponder whether he can quit alcohol. But camping by the riverside leads to an encounter with a cow and its teenage herder that ends in gut-punch tragedy. “Voyage to the Moon: Life Is a Dream” features the parallel lives of Konrad, a logger like his forebears, and Julius, son of the local logging magnate and Konrad’s friend and eventual boss. Over the decades, Konrad finally achieves his dream of sailing his log raft all the way to the North Sea. In “Pierre and Adèle: He Shall Be Purified by Fire, Water, Air, and Earth,” the Huguenot ­Corbés and Catholic Chrétiens share a valley but are divided by long-standing hatred and a narrow creek. Throughout, humans have concerns outsized to themselves only, and the waters flow on unperturbed. VERDICT a real ­discovery for those who love world literature.’ Library Journal’s Summer Travel: In Translation, Eight Top Books That Will Take You Far

‘This is a book of controlled greatness, with sparklingly vivid sentences and an omnipresent threat, and at the same time a soothing timelessness.’ ECI Jury chair Louise O. Fresco


  • Van Oorschot NL (original publisher)
  • Amazon Crossing World English
  • Del Vecchio Italy
  • Wagenbach Germany
  • Gondolat Publishing Hungary
  • Libros del Asteroide Spain
  • Sandorf Croatia

Material: finished copies of Dutch, English, Spanish, Italian, Hungarian