Alfred van Cleef is an Amsterdam based Dutch journalist and writer. Since 1978 he has been working as a journalist and correspondent for major newspapers and magazines from Madagascar, South Korea, Ghana, Benin, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Albania, Greece and many other countries. He worked for several years as a reporter for the leading Dutch daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad.
As a writer, he made his debut with De verloren wereld van de familie Berberović (The Lost World of the Berberovic Family), about the fate of a family during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Van Cleef had much success with his literary travelogue The lost Island, about his obsession for the tiny island of Amsterdam in the Indian Ocean. It was also published in the United States and Germany. Van Cleef’s next book was the novel Verlangen (Longing).
In 2010 De verborgen ordening (‘The Hidden Order‘) was published, a grand journey along the prime meridian from Tunstall (England) to Tema (Ghana). In 2012 it appeared as Die verborgene Ordnung in Germany.
It received the German ITB Buch Award 2013 for Outstanding Travel Books and in Austria it was longlisted for the 2012 prize for the Science Book of the Year (Natural Sciences and Technology). In 2010 it was awarded as best travel story by the Dutch travel book stores.
In 2014, Cossee Publishers launched Lost World – A Bosnian Family History. This is the original – extended and revised – edition ofThe Lost World of the Berberović Family, with a continuation of five new chapters. How did the Berberović brothers and their wives deal with their traumas, twenty years after their expulsion? How are their children, who now are adult Swedes and Dutchmen? Van Cleef visits again the crime sites: the village of Ljubija, the city of Prijedor, the former camp of Omarska and the mass grave at Tomašica, where since September 2013 more than 400 bodies or body parts have been found. The excavations still continue and Tomašica is expected to become the biggest European post WWII mass grave.
A Bosnian Family History
Een Bosnische familiegeschiedenis
Cossee, Amsterdam, 2014
The Hidden Order
De verborgen ordening
Een ontdekkingsreis langs de nulmeridiaan
Uitgeverij Cossee, Amsterdam, 2010
Die verborgene Ordnung
Eine Reise entlang des Nullmeridians
The Lost Island
The Lost Island
Alone Among the Fruitful and Multiplying
Metropolitan Books, New York, 2004
“The Lost Island” is a moving story, funny and endearing at times, immensely sad and disturbing at others. One cannot help but feel for Mr Van Cleef and the profound distress that dogs him. The book distinguishes itself above all as a touching piece on the meaning of human existence.