Janwillem van de Wetering

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Janwillem van de Wetering Janwillem van de Wetering (1982).jpg
Janwillem van de Wetering

Jan Willem Lincoln "Janwillem" van de Wetering (February 12, 1931 in Rotterdam – July 4, 2008 in Blue Hill, Maine) was the author of a number of works in English and Dutch.

Rotterdam Municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

Rotterdam is the second-largest city and a municipality of the Netherlands. It is located in the province of South Holland, at the mouth of the Nieuwe Maas channel leading into the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta at the North Sea. Its history goes back to 1270, when a dam was constructed in the Rotte, after which people settled around it for safety. In 1340, Rotterdam was granted city rights by the Count of Holland.

Blue Hill, Maine Town in Maine, United States

Blue Hill is a town in Hancock County, Maine, United States. The population was 2,686 at the 2010 census. It is home to the Blue Hill Public Library, Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, George Stevens Academy, the Blue Hill Harbor School, New Surry Theatre, Kneisel Hall, Bagaduce Music Lending Library, the Kollegewidgwok Yacht Club, the Shaw Institute, and the Blue Hill Country Club. A community on Blue Hill Bay, the town is the site of the annual Blue Hill Fair.



Van de Wetering was born and raised in Rotterdam, but in later years he lived in South Africa, Japan, London, Colombia, Peru, Australia, Amsterdam and most recently in Surry, Maine, the setting of two of his Grijpstra and de Gier novels and his children's series about the porcupine Hugh Pine.

South Africa Republic in the southernmost part of Africa

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Bantu ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European, Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom, as well as the largest city within the European Union. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Colombia Country in South America

Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia, is a sovereign state largely situated in the northwest of South America, with territories in Central America. Colombia shares a border to the northwest with Panama, to the east with Venezuela and Brazil and to the south with Ecuador and Peru. It shares its maritime limits with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. Colombia is a unitary, constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments, with the capital in Bogotá.

Van de Wetering studied Zen under the guidance of Oda Sessō, together with Walter Nowick, at Daitoku-ji. Van de Wetering lived a year in Daitoku-Ji and half a year with Nowick and described these in The Empty Mirror. Van de Wetering describes a visit to the monastery by the highly respected Hugo Enomiya-Lassalle, describing his own mixed thoughts about this representative of what he deemed an old-fashioned religion. Sōkō Morinaga, Walter Nowick's Dharma brother, wrote in Novice to Master about traditional practices at that time.

Oda Sessō was a Rinzai Rōshi and abbot of the Daitoku-ji(大徳寺) in Kyoto, Japan, a Dharma successor of Gotō Zuigan. He was elected abbot of Daitoku-ji upon Goto's retirement from that post in 1955. At Goto's request, Oda opened Daitoku-ji to foreigners. His western students included Gary Snyder, Janwillem van de Wetering, Irmgard Schloegl, and Philip Yampolsky.

Walter Nowick Zen buddhist

Walter Nowick was an American former teacher of Rinzai Zen. He was a Juilliard-trained pianist and a veteran of World War II. He studied Zen in Japan for sixteen years while teaching university-level piano and voice there, then returned to the United States to teach music and Zen in Surry, Maine, where he founded Moonspring Hermitage. He founded the Surry Opera Company in the mid-1980s and retired from formal Zen teaching in 1985.

Daitoku-ji Japanese Buddhist temple

Daitoku-ji is a Buddhist temple, one of fourteen autonomous branches of the Rinzai school of Japanese Zen. It is located in Kita-ku, Kyoto, Japan. The "mountain name" (sangō) by which it is known is Ryūhōzan (龍宝山). The Daitoku-ji temple complex today covers more than 23 hectares.

Toleration leads to friendship. Friendship always wins. There has never been a Buddhist war

Buddhism and violence refers to acts of violence and aggression committed by Buddhists with religious, political, or socio-cultural motivations, as well as self-inflicted violence by ascetics or for religious purposes. Buddhism is generally seen as among the religious traditions least associated with violence. However, in the history of Buddhism, there have been acts of violence directed, promoted, or inspired by Buddhists. As far as Buddha's teachings and scriptures are concerned, Buddhism forbids violence for resolving conflicts.

The Empty Mirror: Experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery (pg 74)

His many travels and his experiences in a Zen Buddhist monastery and as a member of the Amsterdam Special Constabulary "being a policeman in one's spare time" as he phrased it in his introduction to Outsider in Amsterdam) lent authenticity to his works of fiction and nonfiction.

Zen School of Mahayana Buddhism

Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China during the Tang dynasty as the Chan school (Chánzong) of Chinese Buddhism and later developed into various schools. Chán Buddhism was also influenced by Taoist philosophy, especially Neo-Daoist thought. From China, Chán spread south to Vietnam and became Vietnamese Thiền, northeast to Korea to become Seon Buddhism, and east to Japan, becoming Japanese Zen.

Van de Wetering was awarded the French Grand Prix de Littérature Policière in 1984, for his novel Maine Massacre.

The Grand Prix de Littérature Policière is a French literary prize founded in 1948 by author and literary critic Maurice-Bernard Endrèbe. It is the most prestigious award for crime and detective fiction in France. Two prizes are awarded annually to the best French novel and to the best international crime novel published in that year.


Janwillem van de Wetering was particularly noted for his detective fiction, his most popular creations being Grijpstra and de Gier, a pair of Amsterdam police officers who figure in a lengthy series of novels and short stories. Most of the mysteries are rich with images from Amsterdam, where most of them take place; some also feature a cat: in earlier novels, one named Oliver; in later novels, a female named Tabriz. He also wrote stories for children and nonfiction works. He usually wrote in Dutch and then in English; the two versions often differ considerably.

Grijpstra and de Gier novels

Adjutant-Detective Henk Grijpstra and Detective-Sergeant Rinus de Gier, along with their never-named elderly superior, the commissaris, are the most popular creations of Janwillem van de Wetering. They are police detectives in the Murder Brigade of the Amsterdam Municipal Police, and are featured in more than a dozen detective novels and several short stories published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine .

Grijpstra, heavy, middle-aged, and less-than-happily married, is the senior partner of the team. He is a Frisian (from Friesland, a northern area of the Netherlands) who in his youth dreamed of being a jazz musician or a painter; when a set of drums mysteriously appeared in police headquarters he appropriated them.

De Gier, younger and attractive with deep brown eyes and curly hair and most-often sporting a tasteful denim suit, is single, handsome, and very successful with women. Despite his womanizing, he is an avowed bachelor, and most dedicated to his cats. He is a dreamer and deep thinker, with discursive pondering about "the void," Zen, and life. A native of Rotterdam, de Gier is, like Grijpstra, an amateur musician. He often carries a small flute, and in odd moments he and Grijpstra improvise together in their office, where Grijpstra has his set of drums.

The commissaris, small, elderly, and often nearly incapacitated by chronic rheumatism, supervises the partners' field investigations. Intelligent and broadly experienced, he often provides key insights into his juniors' cases, not to mention insightful philosophical commentary. A Frisian like Grijpstra, the commissaris is fond of jenever and small cigars; only his first name, Jan, is ever given.

Grijpstra, de Gier, and the commissaris first appeared in the novel Outsider in Amsterdam. The novels (in internal chronological order) are as follows:

  1. Outsider in Amsterdam (1975)
  2. Tumbleweed (1976)
  3. The Corpse on the Dike (1976)
  4. Death of a Hawker (1977)
  5. The Japanese Corpse (1977)
  6. The Blond Baboon (1978)
  7. The Maine Massacre (1979)
  8. The Mind-Murders (1981)
  9. The Streetbird (1983)
  10. The Rattle-Rat (1985)
  11. Hard Rain (1986)
  12. Just a Corpse at Twilight (1994)
  13. The Hollow-Eyed Angel (1996)
  14. The Perfidious Parrot (1997)

A complete anthology of short stories, The Amsterdam Cops: Collected Stories, was published in 1999, replacing the earlier anthology The Sergeant's Cat and Other Stories.

Children's books

Other fiction


Articles/stories not included in books





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  1. "Children's Books - People's Porcupine". NYTimes.com. 1986-11-09. Retrieved 2012-02-14.

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