He is also known as the host of his own award winning television talkshow named Hier is... Adriaan van Dis, that lasted from 1983 to 1992 and several successful award winning television documentaries. His television series 'Van Dis In Indonesia' (2012) put both Indonesia and the Indies back in Dutch living rooms. Dutch and Indonesian language with Dutch subtitles. All episodes: http://programma.vpro.nl/vandisinindonesie/afleveringen.html
With the publication of his Indies inspired compilation book De Indie boeken(The Indies books) in 2012, Van Dis establishes himself as one of the most significant second generation Indo authors of Dutch Indies literature. The compilation includes a wide range of his best seller books, in which Van Dis exquisitely describes the trials and tribulation of first and second generation repatriates. Like fellow Indo author Marion Bloem his storytelling is based in old Malay and Pecok verbal traditions. His award winning books evoke the great sense of displacement and rife antitheses that affects generations of Indos. Books include the novels: My Father's War and Repatriated a novel in sixty scenes.
Translated to English:
His father was an Indies-Dutchman and his mother a farmer's daughter from Breda who had met each other in the Dutch East Indies after the War. By then his mother already had three daughters from her first marriage to a Royal Dutch East Indies Army KNILofficer of Indo-European descent. His father had been married before as well, in the East Indies. His family had been heavily affected by the Second World War and the subsequent Indonesian revolution.
As a survivor of the Junyo Maru disaster, which had been mistakenly torpedoed by the British, his father performed forced labour as a POW on the Pakan Baroe railroad on Sumatra. Adriaan van Dis's mother's first husband was a resistance fighter and was decapitated during the Japanese occupation (1942–1945). His mother ended up in a Japanese interment camp along with her 3 young daughters.
Adriaan, born after the war, in The Netherlands, felt like an outsider in his own family because he was the only white child and had no direct history in the Indies or of the war. His environment contributed to this sense of loneliness. Bergen aan Zee was home to many people who had come from the Dutch East Indies and Adriaan grew up in a house that he shared with four repatriated families of mostly Indo-European descent.
Adriaan's parents were unable to get married. While his father's marriage had been disbanded under Islamic law, that divorce had no legal validity in The Netherlands. Nobody was allowed to know this, and so, for the sake of the outside world, Adriaan took on his father's surname. However, officially his surname remained his mother's: Van Dis. When Adriaan went to college, he actually began using his real name. Later in life while working on his autobiographic novels Van Dis discovered that out of spite his fathers family hid the fact that his father was in fact already a widower.
His father had been traumatised by the war and was unable to work. Furthermore, he found it difficult to find a place in The Netherlands as a migrant; he never felt like he fit in. He was always home and raised Adriaan in a conservative manner, frequently beating him. Adriaan remembers him as a cruel man, but also as a victim of circumstances. He is one of his main literary inspirations and his perspective on his father evolves with each related novel.