Writer Janwillem van de Wetering (1931-2008) was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and traveled to the Far East in 1958. He was in his twenties and looking for meaning. In 1971 he published about his time in a Japanese Zen Monastery in The Empty Mirror. The book became well-known in the United States. In the Netherlands he became famous with his series of police novels about Amsterdam cops Grijpstra and De Gier. In these stories he incorporated his philosophy of life into a ‘product suitable for sale’. Van de Wetering became a a widely read author and a welcome guest in the media, where his adventurous life was a rewarding topic of conversation. He is still one of the best-selling Dutch writers abroad and his Zen trilogy is still regularly read in Buddhist circles.


In this biography, the question is asked whether Van de Wetering was a merchant or a missionary. Newspaper articles, weblogs and documentaries show a freethinker who succeeded in much of what he undertook. That picture is correct. But he was also a complex personality who was constantly looking for a way to allay his anxiety. He wrote about it with style, humor and intelligence. The main message that Buddhism taught him was detachment is subtle, indifference is stupid.

More information about the biography is on the website of the NLclub New York and about Janwillem van de Wetering in Maine on the blog The Dutch Touch.