Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Lost Island

The Lost Island

Alone Among the Fruitful and Multiplying

Alfred van Cleef; Translated by S. J. Leinbach

Metropolitan Books



A striking narrative of a man's inadvertent discovery of the life force that persists in the most secluded of places--and isolated of beings

After the death of his father, Alfred Van Cleef--the last of a family of Dutch Jews--learns that he is unable to have children. Seeking the remotest spot on the planet, far from the gleefully reproducing couples of Amsterdam, Van Cleef picks a forbidding island in the Indian Ocean, a bizarrely bureaucratic French weather station, two thousand miles from the nearest continent.

Finally entrenched on this lonely, wind-battered rock--following an eight-year odyssey to obtain a visiting permit and three weeks' rough passage--Van Cleef anticipates a total escape from the sexual frenzy of humanity: the island, ironically named Amsterdam, is inhabited solely by a group of thirty-six men. Yet this stark environment turns out to house a riotously mating society of albatrosses, sea elephants, fur seals--and especially bdelloid rotifers, an all-female species able to reproduce without males. It is in this unlikely setting that Van Cleef is forced to reckon with his most profound existential concerns.

With wry humor and probing insight, Van Cleef weaves geography, natural history, and biology into The Lost Island, an original narrative of a lost island and a man, finally found.


Praise for The Lost Island

"Van Cleef keeps the focus on the island itself, and once you abandon the search for a human narrative, the book does offer pleasures, particularly in its descriptions of the local flora and fauna."— The Washington Post

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Alfred van Cleef; Translated by S. J. Leinbach

Alfred Van Cleef is a novelist, journalist, and producer of radio documentaries. For twenty years, he was a reporter for the leading Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad. He lives in Amsterdam (Holland), where he is working on a novel.

Alfred van Cleef

S. J. Leinbach

From the Publisher

Metropolitan Books

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