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Joyce Bergvelt - Auteur/Author - Formosa, voorgoed verloren/Lord of Formosa, Commandeur van de Kaap

Joyce Bergvelt


Dutch-born Joyce M. Bergvelt (1963) left Holland for Japan at the age of ten, her nomadic childhood later taking her to England and finally, Taiwan, where she took up studying Chinese. She returned to England to embark on a degree in Chinese Studies at the University of Durham, which brought her to Beijing for a year at the Renmin University of China. In 2015, she published her debut ‘Formosa, voorgoed verloren’ about the VOC in Taiwan.

Lord of Formosa

“The year is 1624. In southwestern Taiwan the Dutch establish a trading settlement; in Nagasaki a boy is born who will become immortalized as Ming dynasty loyalist Koxinga. Lord of Formosa tells the intertwined stories of Koxinga and the Dutch colony from their beginnings to their fateful climax in 1662. The year before, as Ming China collapsed in the face of the Manchu conquest, Koxinga retreated across the Taiwan Strait intent on expelling the Dutch Thus began a nine-month battle for Fort Zeelandia, the single most compelling episode in the history of Taiwan.

The first major military clash between China and Europe, it is a tale of determination, courage, and betrayal – a battle of wills between the stubborn Governor Coyett and the brilliant but volatile Koxinga. Although the story has been told in non-fiction works, these have suffered from a lack of sources on Koxinga as the little we know of him comes chiefly from his enemies.

Lord of Formosa is an epic historical novel, closely based on the almost forgotten, true story surrounding the Dutch colonisation of seventeenth-century Taiwan. From his loving relationship with his Japanese mother, estrangement from his father (a Chinese merchant pirate), to his struggle with madness, we have the first rounded, intimate portrait of the man.

Dutch-born Bergvelt draws on her journalism background, Chinese language and history studies, and time in Taiwan, to create an irresistible panorama of memorable characters caught up in one of the seventeenth century’s most fascinating dramas.”

Available to order as paperback, hardback and e-book at all bookstores and book-selling sites.

Lord of Formosa
Camphor Press (2018)
ISBN 978 1 78869 148 2
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A selection of trade reviews:

“In a sweeping, fast-paced novel that covers Japan, China, Taiwan, and even Batavia (Jakarta), Bergvelt has written a compelling account of the nobleman warrior and pirate Koxinga. (…) a fantastic action-packed novel that showcases this major historical figure from Taiwan’s past.”

Asian Review of Books & South China Morning Post

“This very fine novel is as awash with as much researched detail as it is with vividly imagined scenes. I read this comprehensive novel with total absorption. (…) With its many twists and turns of plot, it really does make for outstanding reading.”

The Taipei Times (Bradley Winterton)

“Bergvelt’s vivid prose tells a taut story through the eyes of well-drawn characters based closely on real historical figures. A delightful book.”

Tonio Andrade, author of Lost Colony and The Gunpowder Age

“The prose is accessible and lively and the book is full of wonderful nuggets of history and minutely informed by the author’s deep historical knowledge. Someone will certainly make a great movie out of it.”

Michael Turton, The View from Taiwan

“Bergvelt’s well-researched novel deals with an unfamiliar period of Asian history and eventually brings it to life.”

Historical Novels Review

“Of all the Taiwan novels I’ve read, Lord of Formosa stands out for its great cinematic potential.”

From: Taiwan in 100 Books by John Ross

Commandeur van de Kaap

“Commandeur van de Kaap tells the story of Simon van der Stel, the seventeenth-century commander and later governor of Cape of Good Hope in what is now South Africa. The idyllic old town of Stellenbosch was named after him, and he was the founder of the renowned wine estate Constantia, which produces world-class wines till this very day. He was the grandson of a slave who would later own more than 150 slaves himself.

But above all, he was a bold man with vision and drive, who went beyond Table Mountain and turned Jan van Riebeeck’s refreshment post into a colony, in spite of the many conflicts he had with his employer, the Dutch East India Company.

This historical novel closely follows true events, and provides a rounded portrait of the controversial Van der Stel. His story is told through the eyes of five women in his life: his half-blood mother Maria Lievens, his stepmother Elisabeth Calandrini, his wife Johanna Six, his sister-in-law Cornelia Six who joined him at the Cape with his six children, and his house-slave Susanna van Ceylon, who grew up in his household since she was a child. Travel through time, and to the many places where Van der Stel spent his wandering youth: Mauritius, Ceylon (Sri-Lanka) Batavia (Jakarta), the Dutch republic, and eventually to Cape of Good Hope, where he remained until his death.”

Commandeur van de Kaap is also on the book list of novels and stories about the VOC of the Literary Canon of the Netherlands. The book is currently only available in Dutch paperback. For information on the English translation, please contact the author.

Commandeur van de Kaap
LM Publishers
ISBN 978 9 46022 998 5
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A selection of trade reviews:

“Bergvelt’s great achievement in this novel is that she highlights Van der Stel’s lesser-known years, namely the period before he arrived at Cape of Good Hope. In this way, this historical novel provides a thought-provoking perspective of the colonial governor, placing the book at the very centre of today’s debate on decolonisation.”

Tycho Maas voor Spectrum / het Zuidafrikahuis

“What distinguishes this book, is the fact that it not only tells of Van der Stel’s well-known years in South Africa, it also gives a detailed image of his life before: of his time on Mauritius and Ceylon, in Batavia, Haarlem and Amsterdam. The standard works on his life by Anna Böeseken en Karel Schoeman touch on this only briefly.”

Ingrid Glorie, journalist & translator Afrikaans

“Bergvelt vividly brings to life a period in the shared history of the Netherlands, South-Africa, Mauritius and Indonesia. Commandeur van de Kaap is certainly a book that should be translated into both Afrikaans and English.”

Hendrik-Jan de Wit, Voertaal magazine

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