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Englisch synopsis: The Red Stuff: reconciling the Balkan paradox

Omslag Dat Rode Spul

A literary attempt to reconcile themes like the Yugoslav break-up and war versus freedom in Europe is the novel  ‘That Red Stuff’ (Dat Rode Spul) by Dutch author André Verkaik. This thriller appeared at Calbona publishing, Rotterdam in April 2013. It’s explosive political themes received much attention in the local press. A second edition, now also as ePub, will be published on the 15th of October by PAMAC publishing, Groningen.

As of the first of July 2013 Croatia has become the 28th member of the E.U.  The republic of Serbia is also ready to start accession-negotiations. This all happens while the wounds of the Balkan war of the nineties are still fresh. As became apparent when tens of thousands demonstrated in Zagreb on the 8th op April this year against the introduction of the Serbian-Cyrillic script on street name signs in Vukovar. In 1991 the Yugoslav army completely bombarded the city and expelled it’s population, executing many, among whom 250 patients that were left behind in the hospital.

In the thriller ‘That Red Stuff’ the author follows main character Erwin de Boer and his family on vacation in Croatia, 20 years after Vukovar. They are confronted with a warm shower of friendliness and hospitality from veterans of the independence struggle in Dalmatia as well as from Serbians that stayed behind in the one-time Serb-dominated Krajina.  De Boer has great difficulty reconciling the paradox of torture camps and holiday camps.

By his awkward handling of the local amiability, the protagonist ends up in prison. His Dutch camping neighbor Henk comes to his aid and helps to get Erwin released. Through him, Erwin is introduced to a sensitive political secret, a skeleton in the closet of the old Europe: What was the price that has been paid for the sixty-eight years of peace that Western Europe has enjoyed? After the first World war a  large population that was deemed to be prone to violence by nature was forcefully pacified by dispensing a sedative and mildly addictive drug in their daily nutrition.

If freedom is an illusion, but war the alternative, who would dare to become a whistle-blower? Reading ‘That Red Stuff’ makes one think differently about who you are and how you live as a European.

‘That Red Stuff’ lives up to what one can expect of a literary thriller: Characters come to life in multi-layered interactions of hate-love relations. The plot opens with a full-blown terrorist attack on the International Peace Palace in The Hague. The suspense is sustained until the explosive culmination of events in Zagreb, in which several parties, among whom a high representative of NATO, excel in their frantic attempts to stop the dissemination of information that, if published, would surely lead to a new war in Europe.

André Verkaik auteur Dat Rode Spul
André Verkaik

André Verkaik studied theology and political science. He is writer, publicist and editor for AYBS-webcontent (

For more information about That Red Stuff:



André Verkaik

Tel. 00-31-6-31299936  email:


PAMAC, Fraukemaheerd 95, 9736 RH GRoningen, The Netherlands.

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