Mensje van Keulen was born in The Hague on 10 June 1946 as Mensje Francina van der Steen, known as Mennie. She has a son and lives in Amsterdam.
For eight years she was one of the editors of the literary journal Maatstaf, together with Gerrit Komrij, Theo Sontrop and Martin Ros. Her first story (Een bruiloft) was published in 1969 in Hollands Maandblad. Her debut novel, Bleekers zomer, appeared in 1972. The first review (by K.L. Poll in NRC Handelsblad) began with the words: 'This is it.' This acclaimed novel has been reprinted many times and is now considered one of the classics of Dutch literature.
Many more novels, short stories and books for children followed. See under Bibliography.
Prepublication of The Last Guests:
realism, suspense and sinister humour
That summer there was a heat wave that just wouldn't quit. I had left my bedroom window open wide for the eighth or ninth night and was woken by a slurping noise. I thought it had finally begun to rain and the eaves couldn't deal with it, but it turned out to be Lena who was crawling into my room behind a pillow. Only when I had turned on the light did I see that the pillow was her own body in the big T-shirt with the glittering heart, rolled up above her midriff.
She seemed to be in worse shape than the last time. Perhaps she was dying. It wouldn't be my fault, then, though they might be able to say so if I just left her lying there. Why didn't she stay in bed properly? She wasn't proper. She wanted to saddle me with it. I pulled her T-shirt down and stepped over her to make a phone call.
Within half an hour two men were carrying her downstairs, strapped to a stretcher. One had tied his blond hair in a ponytail, the other had a short brush cut. Lena would have marked him down as a number three. Muscled arms emerged from their short-sleeved shirts; the blond one wore his wedding ring on his watch strap. The heat in the stairwell was almost suffocating, and it smelled of potato peelings and curry. Where the staircase curved the men turned the stretcher sideways as if they were taking a ladder down. Lena's red hair slipped forwards, and she started moaning and drooling again.
'Don't worry,' they said. 'We've never dropped anyone yet.'
Just drop her. It almost passed my lips.
(The opening paragraphs of the novel The last guests, which was published in Dutch in January 2007 by Atlas, Amsterdam)