"Dazzling...Critics hailed Buwalda as 'The Dutch answer to Jonathan Franzen', but his brilliance is entirely unique."--The Times (UK)
Siem Sigerius is a beloved, brilliant professor of mathematics with a promising future in politics. His family—including a loving wife, two gorgeous, intelligent stepdaughters and a successful future son-in-law—and carefully appointed home in the bucolic countryside complete the portrait of a comfortable, morally upright household. But there are elements of Siem's past that threaten to upend the peace and stability that he has achieved, and when he stumbles upon a deception that’s painfully close to home, things begin to fall apart. A cataclysmic explosion in a fireworks factory, the advent of internet pornography, and the reappearances of a discarded, dangerous son all play a terrible role in the spectacular fragmentation of the Sigerius clan.
A riveting portrait of a family in crisis and the ways that even the smallest twists of fate can forever change our lives, Bonita Avenue is an incendiary, unpredictable debut of relationships torn asunder by lies, and minds destroyed by madness.
Dutch author Buwalda's magnificent first novel offers proof of Tolstoy's dictum that "every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Three uniquely unreliable voices narrate this darkly humorous familial drama: the mentally precarious Aaron Bever; his beautiful girlfriend, Joni Sigerius; and her stepfather, eminent math genius and university rector Siem Sigerius. Their interweaving narratives, which hop between the Netherlands, Shanghai, Belgium, and California, chart the years between the rise and fall of their outwardly successful but privately dysfunctional family. Buwalda displays the sexual appetites of his characters from puritanical to hedonistic against the 1990s backdrop of an emerging Internet and concomitant ascendency of online porn. Temperatures rise until the explosion of a Dutch fireworks factory, which is followed by familial pyrotechnics. A custard doughnut plays a decisive role in deciding the Sigeriuses' fate. Questions arise regarding the nature of probability and coincidence, as well as who really gets to wear not only the pants in a relationship but the racy feminine undergarments, too.