Habitus

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Publisher
De Arbeiderspers, Amsterdam (NL)
Caractères,
 Paris (FR)
Ensemble,
 Rome (IT)
ELIF,
 Berlin (GER)
Viento de Fondo,
 Buenos Aires (ARG)
Deep Vellum,
 Dallas (US)

Year
2018

Awards & nominations
Winner of the Grand Poetry Prize of the Netherlands (2019)
Winner of the Herman de Coninck Prize (2019)
Winner of the C Buddingh’ Prize (2018)
Winner of the Awater Poetry Prize (2018)
Winner of the Aan Zee Debut Poetry Prize (2019)

An explosive entry into the world of poetry from Radna Fabias, the most acclaimed debut poet ever in the Dutch language.

Subversive, visual, and bold, Curaçao-born Dutch Radna Fabias’ explosive debut collection Habitus marks the entry of a genre-altering poet. Habitus is a collection full of thrilling sensory images, lines in turn grim and enchanting which move from the Caribbean island of Curaçao to the immigrant experience of the Netherlands. Fabias’ intrepid masterpiece explores issues of racism, neo-colonialism, poverty, and sexism with a heartbreaking rhythm and endless nuance.

Broken into three parts (“View with coconut,” “Rib,” and “Demonstrable effort made”), Habitus explores the profound struggles of melancholic longing, womanhood, religion, and migration. This ambitious, powerful, and compassionate collection has emerged, cheering on ambiguity, fluidity, and a lyrical ego on a quest to find its home.

Translated by David Colmer, an Australian writer, editor, and translator, mainly of Dutch-language literature. He translates in a range of genres and has won many prizes, including the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (both with novelist Gerbrand Bakker), and most recently the James Brockway Prize for his poetry translations.

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“the juiciest lie is splendor,” one poem in Radna Fabias’s incantatory Habitus begins, and reading the book I couldn’t get those words out of my head. Another poem tells us of “the wall that wasn’t there” that “didn’t fall,” saying “there were no explosives it wasn’t a war nothing blew up.” There is something extraordinary happening in this book, something recursive and apophatic and totally, somehow, unprecedented. “i peel the prints from my fingers,” she writes. It’s an unforgettable collection, among the best debuts I’ve read in ages.

— Kaveh Akbar

I was stunned and thrilled by these poems. They have a confident, clear, strange, wild energy, along with the rage and wisdom and humor of a soul who understands the terrors and beauties of this world. They are the electric record of an exceptional imagination. I love these poems and can’t wait to see what’s next.”

— Matthew Zapruder, Why Poetry and Father’s Day

What transforms this poetry into great poetry is its momentum and rhythm, the wealth of its images and its nuanced vision on human existence.”

— Piet Gerbrandy, Versopolis Poetry

english
Deep Vellum, Dallas (US)

french
Caractères, Paris (FR)

italian
Ensemble, Rome (IT)

german
ELIF, Berlin (GER)

spanish
Viento de Fondo, Buenos Aires (ARG)

© 2021 Radna Fabias