This secret bestselling author is the male Elena Ferrante

When “The Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83¼ Years Old” came out in the Netherlands in 2014, it quickly became an international sensation, selling in 21 countries and staying on the Dutch bestseller list for 30 weeks, with TV rights sold to a production company. The book took the form of the diary of an octogenarian tired of the indignities of aging, who decides to start rebelling against the daily grind of his retirement home by penning a saucy “exposé” of it.

The author of the book was listed as Hendrik Groen, the cover art a sketch of an elderly man. Hendrik Groen is a pseudonym, and the author’s true identity has been carefully guarded (“I don’t like fuss, and I wanted to cherish my peace and quiet,” the author has said by way of explanation). You might say he’s the Elena Ferrante of the octogenarian set — though whether or not he is actually an octogenarian (or a man) is also anyone’s guess. “I’m not a 24-year-old model,” he explains in a reading guide Q&A on the Hachette publishing site. “Nor am I a 46-year-old hairdresser.”

His readers will be happy to learn that the paperback version of his new book, “On the Bright Side: The New Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 85 Years Old” will be published in March with the adventures of Hendrik and his so-called Old-But-Not-Dead Club. In the newest book, Hendrik is shaken from the death of his beloved friend Eefje, but he’s still got an appetite for mischief and fun.

It’s an appealing novel with a lot of heart, reminding readers young and old that fun is to be found even in the routine of everyday life.

And of course, the possibility that it’s more memoir than fiction is delightful.

“There’s not one sentence that’s a lie,” the mysterious author has noted somewhat cryptically. “But not every word is true.”

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