Why has Willem Frederik Hermans's large and varied oeuvre failed, over half a century, to establish his place in the pantheon of Dutch writers recognised by the British? The author himself might have grinned ruefully at the thought: he was an arch-pessimist with a wry sense of humour. However, he suffered no shortage of acclaim, most of it from Germany, Scandinavia and his native Netherlands.
... Beyond Sleep is an engaging yarn once it hits its stride, intermittently thought-provoking, frequently funny, well worth investigating. But there are darker, stronger Hermans works still waiting for their chance to cross the Channel.
Toucing on Ina Rilke's translation, Faber notes:
In the original Dutch, Hermans's prose is bracingly lucid and straightforward, justifying his reputation as a champion of unadorned style. Ina Rilke's translation is fluent and finds clever solutions to tough challenges (such as preserving the comic effect of conversations in which English is the foreign language), but overall the tone is more formal, more prim than it should be. Occasionally, unintentional ambiguities are introduced, such as when Alfred steps "into the void" instead of stepping off a rock. Still, the protagonist's increasingly febrile determination is well conveyed, and the numerous humiliations of travelling ill-provisioned in a hostile landscape are detailed with satisfyingly grisly care.