Paul (49) is autistic. During the week he lives in a collective and every other weekend he stays with his mum. He has a terrarium in his living room with two reptiles. He works for the parks department and is secretly in love with Carol, who is 25 years younger.

One of the reptiles ate the plastic plant and died, the other one has gone missing.

At town hall, where Paul is allowed to use the bathroom because he dislikes Dixies, the ladies and gents signs have been switched. This causes a lot of unbearable confusion.  And on top of this, everybody mispronounces his name.

Pauwl is a realistic, moving and funny account of the impediments and enrichments of a life with autism.  After Hello Wall  Erik Jan Hermans again has written a novel that comes straight from the soul. 


* New novel by the author of the bestseller Hello Wall

* Again an important topic: autism

* His column about Pauwl will feature in Dutch newspaper Het Parool from September


Erik Jan Harmens (1970) is an author, poet and performer. His widely-praised poetry collections and novels have been nominated for various prizes.



Of course I know I have autism.  I say it when I introduce myself: ‘I am Paul and I have autism’.  I never say: ‘I am autistic’. Because that sounds cold, just like ‘orthodontic’.  I find it better to say that I have autism, not that I am autistic.  I am Paul. I have autism

Autism is when your brain works different from the brain of other people. People with autism often speak a bit different and when you talk back they sometimes don’t know what you mean.  Or if you raise an eyebrow we don’t know why that is. Also, people with autism have a different sense of humour and when someone says I should get in the car with him, that’s what I do.  Not anymore, but I used to.   I was ten when it happened and my mum saw it and ran towards the car. She shouted‘get out of the car’ and then she said I should never get into a car with strange people again.

When the van arrived next day and I didn’t recognise the driver, I didn’t get in. Then my mum said: ‘The man is from Connexxion’. There I lost it: I was not to get into a car with strange people, but I could if he was from Connexxion?

Our brain works different and it sometimes takes longer for me to understand something.  That’s why I like some things to go the same way, because then I don’t have to think about them.  I don’t have to come to understand them, because I already do. 




In Hello Wall a man literally talks to a wall. About the years behind him, during which he suffered a burnout, went through a divorce, saw his father and several best friends die, and had to come to grips with an alcohol addiction. The wall does not answer, but it does offer the man a new perspective. Hello Wall is Erik Jan Harmens’ most autobiographical novel to date. It is an honest, moving and also very funny account of drifting, failing and surviving, and will buoy anyone trying to rebuild a life after hitting rock bottom.


• Intense, heartwrenching and highly autobiographical novel about alcohol addiction, burn-out, divorce and its consequences, by award-winning poet Erik Jan Harmens

• Holland’s leading television talk show ‘De Wereld Draait Door’ (1.5 million viewers every day) hailed Hello Wall as January Book of the Month (February 2015)

• Sample translations available. Read them here

Great clip, especially made for Hello Wall

Hello Wall is selected for the Libris Literatuur Prijs 2016 (longlist). Shortlist will be announced on march 7th 2016

• Rave reviews in Dutch and Belgian press

• Comparable to Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive

• Five reprints, 20,000 copies sold in less than three months

• Translations will be subsidized by Het Nederlands Letterenfonds


“Harmens’ words exemplify the addiction (…) Barbed and no holds barred. An honest book with a clear winner.” NRC Handelsblad ****

“Few authors write as well and as compellingly about their own life as Harmens. His story has incredible drive, and with his blend of humor and exhibitionism he both attracts and repels the reader. Hello Wall is one of those hard-hitting books.” De Tijd

Hello Wall offers a direct look, in an uncomfortable, almost raw way, into Harmens’ headful of off-the-wall thoughts. It is a book written out of pure necessity and one you have to read at a single stretch.” De Morgen







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