Anjo grows up in an old barn, somewhere on the endless sand plains of Brazil. Every day is like an ordeal to him and the other five orphaned children – there is hardly any food and they are constantly subjected to the cruel ways of their ‘guardians’ and their guests.

Light years away there is a metropole, with its slums. Two young prostitutes there try to make the best of their lives, whilst dreaming of a better future.  Everything changes when one of them gets pregnant.

In the city itself lives Elizabet, married to the police chief who is fighting corruption in his force. They have a good marriage, a beautiful house and a housekeeper she loves, but one thing is missing.

In Scum of the Earth, echoing memories of films like Cidade de Deus and Tropa de Elite, Roxane van Iperen weaves these lives into one swirling story about pain, loss and pining for things that never were.  She takes the reader to a world where morality and malleability are hollow notions. There is but one goal: survival. 


  • Sample in English available here
  • Great (first) review in de Volkskrant (see quote below). Read an interview with Roxane here
  • Read a great article (in English) on technology & society and an interview with Maurice Punch on (ao) the ethics of doing business 
  • Roxane van Iperen combines great storytelling with raw subject matters
  • Author is very prolific and socially aware, and publishes on a wide variety of subjects in different newspapers and websites


Roxane van Iperen (1976) is a lawyer and publicist. She writes forFD, NRC Handelsblad, Het Parool, De Morgen, Follow the Money and she is a guest-correspondent for De Correspondent. Scum of the Earth is her first novel


Not one of us wonders where he is from.  When we came here we were too young to remember, or our memories were too dark to put into words.  So we make stuff up. About a family, waiting for us somewhere.  A mother’s desperate grief, a father who goes out of his way to look for his lost child. Anything would be better than being a pariah. 


Scum of the Earth is a book with intestines, life, soul, blood and love. Seldom have I read something that so captivatingly describes the feeling of inequality.  Roxane van Iperen is a masterful narrator’ Marjon van Royen, Brazil correspondent

'A well-composed and deeply committed story. Sinister and terrifying and composed in the blackest black. Not necessarily something that makes you happy, but it does make you poignantly wiser.' Daniëlle Serdijn, de Volkskrant

 ‘Scum of the Earth is a very tough, ruthless novel of a huge literary talent’ Eric Smit, editor-in-chief van Follow the Money

'An oppressive and horrific story about inequality and morality which demonstrates an admirable empathy' Opzij

‘Impressive, raw novel about surviving’ Vogue






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