“An orphan’s search for identity
in times of war and injustice”
Birgit Treipl (1965) is a Dutch Canadian author. She was born and raised in the Netherlands and graduated from the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht with a bachelor’s degree in communications. She worked in advertising and corporate communications, became a freelancer, then started and ran a successful recruitment agency before immigrating to Canada. Being an outdoor enthusiast, she moved to the Kootenays in BC and now splits her time between Nelson, BC, and Seabright, Nova Scotia.
Schuilen tussen bamboe [Hiding behind bamboo] is her first novel, written in the Dutch language and published by HarperCollins Holland in August 2020.
In March 2023 Birgit has translated the novel into English and it will undergo a stylistic edit over the next few months. The English title will be determined along the way.
The creation of this book was an extraordinary three year-journey Birgit traveled with her dad Victor.
Fiction and non-fiction combined
Although [Hiding behind bamboo] is based on a true story, fiction and non-fiction are woven together in this novel.
Victor Treipl, the only child of an Austrian couple who had settled in Lembang, the Dutch East Indies in 1910, was born into a privileged life. However, his world was turned upside down when he lost both parents at the age of nine, just before the outbreak of World War II. Due to Austria’s annexation by the German Empire, Victor’s family was suddenly labeled as “hostile subject” by the Dutch Government. As a result, their possessions, including Grand Hotel Lembang, were seized, stolen, and sold. Family members were sent to Dutch camps, while Victor and his aunt were interned in an isolated mountain village.
Under the horrors of the colonial war, an intimate family secret lurked, waiting to be revealed. It was not until 1949, when Victor and his aunt Hilda were taken to a camp in Batavia, that the truth finally came to light.
[Hiding behind bamboo] chronicles Victor’s search for identity as he grapples with personal loss, cultural differences, and the struggle to find his voice in times of war and injustice. Through it all, he learns valuable lessons in acceptance, forgiveness, and love.
Victor Treipl passed away in November 2021. He was 90 years old.
Birgit Treipl is available for interviews.