In his best–selling novel A Father's Affair a man comes to terms with the fact that the son he thought he had is not his after all. Unable to confront the boy's deceased mother, he begins a quest to establish who the real father is and build a new relationship with his 'son'. Is van Loon out to provide answers to problems of modern life?

[i]"No, but I do provide questions. And I do like to show other ways of looking at things. A lot of people go through life thinking there is no alternative: 'I don't like my job, I don't like the way I live, but what can I do?' Well, there is a lot you can do. Like homo faber, we make our owns lives. That was the idea of the Enlightenment: we're not the subjects of an almighty god. We have choices. Obviously, we've learned the hard way that it's not that easy, and never will be, if we have to take responsibility for our own actions."[/i]

Very worthy. But what happened to post–modern irony?

[i]"Like all the spinoffs of [/i]Bright Lights, Big City?[i] I think irony is something you need to be careful with. It's a very powerful intellectual weapon, but if you make irony the core of your existence you make yourself live an ironic life. That's dangerous because you distance yourself from everything, leaving it up for grabs to anyone who grabs it. You're not going to win the argument with irony. A Father's Affair is an anti–ironic book. It argues that ethics is actually an incredibly strong force that can bring good into your life."[/i]

Van Loon, who has written a book about the Kosovo War and a novel about Burmese refugees in Thailand, also writes a column for Margriet, the Dutch equivalent to Good Housekeeping.

[i]"It's been around since the 30s or so. I write about my family life and my kids and all that. Very bourgeois, but I enjoy it. Just because you have political views, doesn't mean you don't care about your children. I also write for the anarchist magazine Ravage. I wrote a series for them about America, called 'God's Country'. What's wrong with enjoying life and still being politically active?"[/i]

- Karel van Loon's latest novel, The Invisible Ones, is published this month.