Friday, January 14, 2011

Sonny Boy

Annajetske (Annejet) van der Zijl (Leeuwarden, 1962) is a Dutch journalist and writer.

She grew up in a teacher's family in Friesland. Initially she went to study art history, but she graduated in mass communication at the University of Amsterdam. In 1998 she followed a master study in London International Journalism. After a number of short courses in England and Netherlands, she was editor at the Dutch magazine, HP/De Tijd. She specialized in reconstructions and portraits of known and unknown people and groups that make up an eventful period of history, such as Dutch who moved to Paris in May 1968. She also wrote about crimes and political events, such as the "krakersrellen" on Queensday 1980.

Her first book about the "Gooise" country house Jagtlust-in the 1950s and 1960s. At the end of 1999 Van der Zijl dismissal at HP/The time to work on the biography of Annie M.G. Schmidt, stimulated by the son of the writer Flip van Duyn and her Publisher Ary Langbroek. Sonny Boy, about the "vanished life" of Waldemar Nods and Rika van der Lans, appeared in 2004. On 4 March 2010 they received his doctorate at the University of Amsterdam on a biography of Prince Bernhard. Her supervisor was Professor Hans Blom.

The dramatic lives of Waldemar Nods and Rika van der Lans has been translated into several languages and a feature film is being produced.

 On Wednesday at the cinema, the trailer for Sonny Boy, to the book of Annejet van der Zijl. This film runs from 27 January in the Dutch cinemas. In the twenties the young, from Suriname, Waldemar Nods arrives in the Netherlands where he meets the older Rika van der Lans and they fall in love. The contradictions would be almost not bigger: Waldemar black, Rika white, 17 years age different and in addition, Rika is mother of four children. But they love each other and than … Rika turns out to be pregnant. Rika and Waldemar choose each other despite the high price they paid. They get a son in 1929. They nicknamed him 'Sonny Boy', after the Al Jolson film and song that were released the year they met and fell in love.

Waldy Nods junior, 'Sonny Boy', recalls that other Dutch children called him 'krullebol' (curly head) and that his mother told him that people sometimes pinched his father's skin to see what it was like to touch a dark person. Sonny Boy himself was unaware of the differences between his parents.

"They just loved each other. I guess it was a scandal, but it didn't feel like that for me and also for them."Dramatic lives

They married and stayed together for 16 years, until fate caught up with them in the shape of the Second World War. Rika and Waldy's boarding house was a success, thanks in part to Rika's business acumen and determination to make things work. The same freedom of spirit and almost reckless resolve they showed in the face of society's disapproval of their relationship also sealed their fate under Nazi occupation. They hid Jews and resistance fighters in their pension, and in early 1944 they were arrested and never seen again.
We now know that Rika died at Ravensbrück concentration camp, probably in the gas chamber, a few weeks before the end of the war, and Waldemar was shot on a beach in the final hours of the Third Reich.

Waldy Nods junior, age 81


Kitabwalli said...

Waited many months for this film to come to Montreal and it was well worth the wait. If the books is translated into English, will certainly read it.

Let it not be said a love story can't be anti-racist/anti-fascist.

Christo Spyker said...

Dear Kitabwalli,
I did some research. In 2005 the leading English publishers Faber & Faber bought the worldwide translation rights of Sonny Boy. The translation rights for Germany are already sold to Rowohlt. There is a German translation of the book, but why, till now, the book is still not published in English, I have no idea. About the book in Dutch I can only say; well written, interesting and touching, true life history of two ordinary, but also very special people.