Presentation of "Duivelsklauw" in Arnhem, Netherlands, on 18 April 2014


Last month, April 2014, Felicita Vos, author of non-fiction, published her first novel “Duivelsklauw” (Devil’s Claw). First-person narrator in this masterly family novel, is Gina, a young Dutch woman and daughter of a Roma father. After the funeral of her father, Gina starts searching for her family roots and those of her father, Heina Brandt, in particular. Heina, son of a Romni and a Dutchman, happens to be the real main character of the book. Apart from the frustrations of living between two cultures, Heina suffers from the fact that his father (Gina’s grandfather) made deals with the Nazis in World War II. Was he a collaborator or a man who tried to protect his large Roma family?

The novel reads like a fascinating puzzle. Together with Gina, one cannot stop looking for the answers to crucial questions about the grandfather’s role. Most characters in the book are neither heroes nor bastards, but the complicated mixture that people usually are, challenged by the extra complications of Nazi rule.

In a playful way the author informs readers on various Roma traditions regarding death, birth, food and hygiene, not seldom exposing prejudice while doing so. There is also space for humour and self-criticism, which turns “Duivelsklauw” into a warm and heartfelt book and a precious report from inside.

When Felicita asked me to accept the first copy during the book presentation in Arnhem, I felt a bit shy. It was too much honour from the side of the author who worked for many years on the book and did so much research.

May “Duivelsklauw”, also outside the Netherlands and in other languages, contribute to the literature produced by Roma and Sinti themselves. It will help non-Roma to learn to know better their Romani neighbours and fellow people.119


Duivelsklauw, by Felicita Vos, 353 pages, € 19,50, publisher In de Knipscheer

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