"The Final Stage"

by Ingrid Oonincx

"Dutch journalist Ingrid Oonincx wrote a weekly column for the Brabantse Dagblad from 2015 to 2017. Her first novel, Nickname (2010), was a finalist for the Shadow Prize, the annual Dutch award for best crime-fiction debut, and she's followed it with four more acclaimed thrillers, most recently Pretty Boy (2018). She is a founding member of the Moordwijven -- 'Murderous Women,' the Dutch equivalent of Sisters in Crime."

This was an easy one to translate -- Ingrid uses clear, simple language to tell a touching story about a middle-aged Vietnamese couple who have lived for many years in Amsterdam.

Between accepting "The Final Stage" and publishing it, EQMM editor Janet Hutchings contacted me to ask how I'd feel about leaving out the newspaper clipping that ends the story. I checked with Ingrid, who said it was okay with her, and told Janet to go ahead. By the time the issue came out, though, Janet had changed her mind and decided to reinstate the epilogue. I think the story reads better with those final sentences than without them, and I'm glad Janet ultimately reversed her earlier decision.

This was the second of three consecutive issues in which I had contributions in EQMM: I had both a story of my own and a translation in the September/October 2019 issue, and then my second Puzzle Club story and another translation in the January/February 2020 issue. That's two of my own stories and three translations in three issues -- a hat trick I don't expect I'll ever repeat ... although of course I'd love to!

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