Gliding Flight

Gliding Flight

Anne-Gine Goemans is a journalist and teacher of journalism to college students in Utrecht. Her career as a novelist began in 2008 with the publication of Ziekzoekers (Unfurrowed Ground), a book that grabbed the public’s attention when awarded the Anton Wachterprijs for best debut novel. Four years later, Goemans second novel Glijvlucht won the Dioraphte Youth Literature Prize and the German M. Pionier Award for new literary talent. The film rights were sold and the book added to the curriculum in some Dutch secondary schools.  In 2015 Glijvlucht was translated into English by Nancy Forest-Flier for World Editions and published under the title Gliding Flight. Cutting to the goose chase Gliding Flight is the story of 14-year-old Gieles who lives with his father and uncle in an isolated area along a runway, a landing strip for the local airport. This setting is instrumental to the narrative – uniting the supporting characters by being a source of constant tension to the unfolding storyline. The story opens with Gieles seeking advice on the best method to teach his two geese how to fly. He does this secretly as his father is responsible for ensuring that geese and other birds do not become a hazard to planes by venturing too close to the runway. Hence, Gieles would have his geese confiscated should his father discover that they were able to fly. Further Gieles is an avid fan of ornithologist Christian Moullec and pilot captain Scully who successfully landed his plane after geese had damaged the engines. Additional characters include Gieles’ mother Ellen who is on a mission to help people in Africa; Super Waling, an obese ex-history teacher, whose own family history tells the Dutch story of human hardship as men worked to reclaim land by building polders; Mieke, the gothic girl Gieles initially meets on the internet before leaving her family to live with Gieles and his family; Tony, the sadistic school friend; and Dolly, young widow, single parent, beautician and critic of everything. Flying in formation This novel contains multiple themes beginning with the analogy between teaching geese to fly and gain independence and teenagers struggling to learn essential life skills required to become independent adults. Other themes encompass Ellen’s need to be involved in saving humans in Africa, while leaving her own family to fend for themselves; obesity as a disability; first loves; cancer; innate tendency towards violence in some humans; and the war against industrial development in rural townships. The smooth incorporation of these themes in the narrative clearly highlights the authors’ literary talents. Gliding Flight is an enjoyable read with captivating characters, well-paced plot, and the right amount of tension to keep the pages turning. Highly recommended. Ana McGinley  More >



24 Oranges

24 Oranges

Dutch things pressed for your pleasure: oddball Dutch news and photographs. More >








I love Noord

I love Noord

North Amsterdam is described as the Brooklyn of the Dutch capital. If you want to know why, read this blog. More >



A Flamingo In Utrecht

A Flamingo In Utrecht

A lighthearted look at bits of history, culture and daily life as seen through the eyes of a woman from the U.S. More >


A Wanderlust For Life

A Wanderlust For Life

An American expat blogging about life in Amsterdam while traveling around the country and throughout Europe. More >


Amsterdamian

Amsterdamian

I try to create a relationship with this mysterious city. I love it and can’t get enough of it. More >


The Dutch Golden Age

A beautifully illustrated book about the Golden Age of The Netherlands. Produced to Accompany the Dutch documentary series De Gouden Eeuw. Buy this book  More >


The Darkness that Divides Us

Born in Amsterdam in 1954, Renate Dorrestein began her working life as a journalist for the Dutch magazine Panorama. Her first novel Buitenstaanders (1983) became a bestseller and marked the beginning of an industrious career in literature. Dorrestein has published more than 30 fictional and autobiographical books, some of which have been translated or made into films - gaining her international recognition as a writer of merit. Dorrestein’s collection of work was awarded the Annie Romein Prize in 1993. She won the Vondel Prize for Translation for her novel Heart of Stone and was nominated for numerous literary prizes including the Libris Literature Prize for Een Sterke Man (A Strong Man) and the AKO prize for Zonder Genade (Without Mercy).  Dorrestein has twice written the national Dutch Book Week complimentary book, in 1997 and 2008. The Darkness that Divides Us Initially published in 2003 as Het Duister dat Ons Scheidt, this recently released version was translated by Hester Velmans and is available to English readers as The Darkness that Divides Us. The novel is a family drama infused with mystery. The book is divided into three parts, with each part covering a six-year period. The 26 chapters are titled with a letter of the alphabet, beginning with ‘A is for Abacus’ and ending with ‘Z is for Zeal’. The storyline revolves around a Lucy, a Dutch girl who spends her early childhood living in a rectory with her artist mother and their two male boarders, Ludo and Duco. A tragic crime is committed, resulting in Lucy’s mother being sent to prison and six-year-old Lucy experiencing a drastic drop in popularity with her peers. Her childhood in this idyllic Dutch village becomes an ordeal when the children commence a constant regime of bullying. In Part Two Lucy’s mother is released from jail and returns home. The local community is unwilling to allow her re-entry into the life she had prior to her incarceration. Lucy too is unable to reconnect her relationship with her mother, preferring the company and guidance of Duco and Ludo. Seeking a panacea to their domestic unrest, the four escape to a life of anonymity on the island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Here Lucy is given the chance to reshape her childhood with the island children. The final part of the book focuses on Lucy departing Lewis and the care of her guardians for Amsterdam where she plans to live independently and attend college. Her resolution disappears upon seeing someone from her past. She quickly slips into a funk, unable to leave her room. A meeting with her mother in the final pages resolves the mystery that has been weaved throughout the narrative, shaping the lives of the main characters. Beautiful, happy people? No. Dorrestein doesn’t write about beautiful people. She refrains from sentimentality in her character descriptions, choosing instead to expose their flaws. These negative attributes are easily identifiable in the general populace. The children in the book may be adventurous in their antics, yet in general, are written as nasty, dirty, destructive bullies. Adult characters are devoid of empathy and driven by their own insecurities. The plot holds tightly together, tempting the reader further to uncover the secrets hidden in later pages. The translation of this narrative of complicated interpersonal relationships is the work of an extremely skilled translator in Hester Velmans. The Darkness that Divides Us succeeds as an English language novel and is highly recommended. Ana McGinley Buy this book  More >


The Mobile Life

The Mobile Life - a new approach to moving anywhere by veteran global citizen Diane Lemieux and Anne Parker targets individuals embarking on their first expatriate experience. Knowledgeable about the topic from both a professional and personal basis, the authors have tackled the subject with an extremely detailed interpretation of what is required to conscientiously make the decision to uproot and resettle in an unfamiliar country. REVIEW: On a university curriculum The Mobile Life would find its place on an introductory psychology course, possibly: Expat 101. The contents are broad-ranging and offer something to every potential expat moving to any part of the world. Covering all aspects of making an international move from a psychological perspective, familiar concepts like Maslow'Ž“s Hierarchy of Needs (p108) and Hall'Ž“s Analogy of Culture (p126) are included with more recently introduced terminology such as emotional intelligence (p66), moral quotient (p139) and body quotient (p144). Business Guide Adopting the phrase 'Ž•team leader'Ž“ to refer to parents supports the notion that family members work as a team. Continuing with this model, information is reminiscent of company team building days spent in closed rooms with paper and whiteboard space - where roles and responsibilities are brainstormed, documented, analyzed, and discussed to the point of consensus within the family team. History Guide Choosing the analogy of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his 1914 Antarctic expedition to explain the challenges of a global move, and the essential attributes of a good leader to ensure the survival of accompanying family members is perhaps too loose a connection in the book. Reading about Shackleton is an enjoyable distraction, yet comparing a sea captain, who travelled with his crew and became trapped for months in Antarctica before returning home to his family, with an English family being sent on their maiden expat posting in Abu Dhabi or SingaporeŽ is an obtuse comparison. Overall, the authors undoubtedly know their subject matter. The book will benefit individuals wanting to delve into the why and how questions that arise from a decision to move to a new country. The book is based on the psychology of making the transition -Ž admittedly a step many expats do not consider in their excitement at becoming global citizens. Buy this book  More >


The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old

Hendrik Groen is an 83-year-old resident of an aged care home in Amsterdam. He begins a diary recording the daily tribulations of life in an institution surrounded by his peers and confronted by the health challenges that come with being an octogenarian. He starts the diary with the telling line, 'Another year, and I still don’t like old people.' The residents of The House of the Setting Sun are a mixed bag of stereotyped elderly people, many of whom spend their days waiting for mealtimes, seeking opportunities to moan about their constipation, or discussing family members who appear to have forgotten them. Not wanting to be part of this group, Hendrik and a small coterie of similarly rebelling residents form the Old-But-Not-Dead Club with the goal '…to increase the enjoyment of advanced age by arranging outings’, and the clearly stated rule, 'No whining allowed.' Soon, the club comes to the attention of management staff and other residents who are clearly irked by the fact that the club members are enjoying life and not behaving as institutionalised old people are expected to. The club members include Evert (rude, sarcastic, smoking, drinking diabetic who refuses to change his ways even as his extremities turn black and require amputation), Eefje (the woman Hendrik wishes he’d met half a century earlier), Grietje (who believes she has Alzheimer’s disease), Edward (a stroke survivor with residue speech difficulties), and Hendrik (exhibiting a multitude of age-related wear and tear issues that have slowed him down and added a leak to his bladder). Getting old: fact over fiction? This funny and touching novel questions how we see the elderly, especially old people in care facilities. The author offers the notion that relocating to an aged care home does not have to mean surrendering all activities people have previously enjoyed, and replacing these pleasurable engagements with a contentment to stare at the walls and play bingo on a Monday evening while counting down your remaining days. Although Dutch readers may get more pleasure from this book due to insider knowledge of the local politics and age care policies, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old does have universal appeal and the novel has been taking the world by storm. Incorporating issues of euthanasia, advanced care directives, funding for aged care, family support availability and the broader question of what to do with older people who lose their independence – gives the book international relevance. In addition, these issues are covered with humour from the older person’s perspective, a voice not usually heard but one that should be central to the discussion. Who is the real Hendrik Groen? Originally published in Dutch in 2014, the author of this book remained a mystery until recently, leaving readers with the question of whether the diary was indeed the work of Hendrik Groen, and hence a biography rather than a novel, although the nod to Adrian Mole should have been the giveaway. In April 2016, NRC Handelsblad revealed Peter de Smet, a 61-year-old librarian with no previous published written work, as the book’s author.  The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old was translated by Hester Velmans. It is published by Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin Books. A great read with characters who will remain in your thoughts long after you have finished reading. Not belly-aching funny, yet very enjoyable. Ana McGinley Buy this book  More >


A Moveable Marriage

For the first time since before I had children, I've read a whole book in one day. I didn't intend to, I just got carried away. And although it meant neglecting the more trivial needs of my usually well cared for offspring, it was definitely worth it. A Moveable Marriage by Expat Expert Robin Pascoe, is not just a book, it's a bible - nay, a lifeline - for any wife following her husband (and his career) around the globe, who feels like she's sometimes drowning in the mire. Pascoe spent two decades being posted to far-flung Asian cities as the wife of a Canadian diplomat, and has since gone on to become something of an authority on the trials and tribulations of international relocations, and living life overseas. In A Moveable Marriage she puts the expat marriage under the microscope and explores every conceivable issue faced by both spouses, and the enormous stresses inflicted on the wife as she takes on an integral, but often invisible and thankless role in moving the whole family from one place to another. With often inadequate company support, limited help from the working spouse (whose priority is to get stuck into the new job), and no old friends and family network to fall back on, relocating can be an ordeal for wives especially when children are involved. If you've experienced the gamut of emotions that can plague an expat wife such as: mourning the loss of your professional identity loathing financial dependency and you're sick to death of taking sole responsibility for the endless tedious domestic tasks, then you'll know why I couldn't put this down! A Moveable Marriage offers an amusing insight and helpful advice from someone who's been there, done it all, and bought a few t-shirts along the way. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >


The Dutch and their Bikes

Books about Dutch biking culture continue to grow in popularity, with more titles appearing on the bookshelves each year. Four years ago, American photojournalist and long-term resident in the Netherlands, Shirley Agudo, published Bicycle Mania, receiving rave reviews from international readers. Continuing on this same theme, Agudo has recently released a new extended version of her first book, titled The Dutch and Their Bikes: Scenes from a Nation of Cyclists. This new coffee table book exhibits about 700 photographs of Dutch people cycling - an activity intrinsic in their everyday lives. The images are loosely arranged by theme: transportation, colours, weather, age, animals, and special occasions. The book opens with a section of well-researched facts about cycling in the Netherlands, including what happens to bikes parked in public spaces for long periods (that is, they are removed and taken to the Fietsdepot to await retrieval by their owners at a cost of ten euros, albeit 70% of these bikes remain unclaimed). By adding a short list of cycling innovations supported by both local and national government, Agudo emphasises the importance of cycling to the environment and economy of the Netherlands. Interspersed throughout the 352 pages of the book are comments from a broad range of people somehow involved in cycling culture in the Netherlands, including individuals working in various government officers, transport organizations, cycling bodies, bicycle manufacturing businesses, and online bike forums. Often information and views are repeated, providing reiteration of the benefits of cycling to both individual and community. The Dutch and Their Bikes is a gift to the tourism industry of the Netherlands. The photographs portray the Dutch people as a free-spirited (sometime nude, pages 294-297), environmentally conscious, sturdy population who know the simple joy of riding a bike, and have adopted it as their preferred mode of transport. Cycling is internationally recognised as an enjoyable as well as an environmentally-friendly activity. By identifying the bike as being integral to Dutch culture, Shirley Agudo has added another reason for visitors to come and experience what the Netherlands is about. Buy this book Ana McGinley books@dutchnews.nl  More >


Holland Handbook

This richly illustrated handbook offers 256 full-color pages of essential information for the expatriate on all aspects of living and working in the Netherlands such as: career, fiscal issues, health care, housing, insurance, international education, registration and telecommunications.  More >


Colonel Baxter’s Dutch Safari

Cartoonist and artist Glen Baxter was first published in the Netherlands 40 years ago. Now he's back with a collection of absurdist drawings covering all things Dutch - from herring and tulips to Mondriaan and Rietveld chairs. Dutch funnyman Wim de Bie, who curates the Glen Baxter Museum, provides the introduction to this slim volume of full-colour drawings and wry comments. In particular, Baxter seems to have it in for Rietveld's famous chair - which is eaten by beavers, turned into a method of execution and a bidet. The humour is gentle and barbed at the same while the little Delft tiles sketched on opposing pages contain some hidden gems. Buy this book  More >


How to be Dutch

A familiar face to many expats in the Netherlands, Greg Shapiro is an American comedian, writer, television presenter, vlogger and collector of Dutch peculiarities. As a resident of the Netherlands for over two decades, Shapiro has had ample opportunities to expand his collection of cultural idiosyncrasies, considered ‘normal’ by the Dutch and ‘absurd’ by everyone else. It is these cultural oddities that form the foundation for Shapiro’s professional life. How to Be Dutch, The Quiz is Shapiro’s latest book. It follows his 2014 book: How to be Orange: an Alternative Dutch Assimilation Course which tied in with the live show Shapiro was performing around the country at the time. His new book is written as a quiz loosely based on the Dutch assimilation or inburgering exam. The quiz contains multiple-choice questions arranged under topics including Dutch fashion, cuisine, stereotypes, and health care. Selecting the correct answer is often difficult because all options can seem ridiculous yet totally plausible. A good example is: While biking, you see a group of tourists edging toward the bike path ahead of you. When should you ring your bell? Ring as early and as often as possible Dutch bikes don’t have bells Wait until you are almost on top of them (pg21) Edgy at times as questions touch on such sacred cows as Zwarte Piet, slavery and racism, Shapiro provides readers with the arguments and relevant history needed to gain insight into the Dutch culture. He doesn’t shy away from complaining, appearing foolish, or exposing the nonsensical. His comparisons are influenced by his own American background, a familiar standpoint for non-Americans thanks to decades of television and films. How to Be Dutch: The Quiz is not an anti-Dutch book. Instead it is an amusing look at the country and culture many migrants have chosen to be part of, whether on a temporary or permanent basis. Recommended for anyone looking for a fun, easy read or wanting to assess their own assimilation into the Dutch culture. Ana McGinley (The correct answer is C)  More >


Walk & Eat Amsterdam

This dinky little guide book is perfect for anyone already familiar with Amsterdam who wants to see more, and feast as they go. If you'Ž“ve seen the sights, visited the museums and experienced the delights of this fair city - and you enjoy troughing, then Walk & Eat Amsterdam is a bit of a treasure. Food writer, Cecily Layzell has produced a: Ž•light-hearted introduction to Dutch cuisine and eating habits, and combined it with different walks (including a night yomp), in and around the capital. Every stroll takes in a different part of the city, or further afield to the North Holland Dune Reserve, listing authentic Dutch eateries and watering holes along the way. If you'Ž“re short on time or energy, there are 11 walks of varying distance to choose from, but nothing requiring mountain goat levels of fitness. Layzell has even gone to the trouble of including a traditional Dutch recipe at the end of each chapter, which could have been its undoing (if you'Ž“re familiar with normal Dutch cuisine), but this just adds charm to an already appealing little book. There is plenty of useful advice about planning your visit including useful transport information and websites, as well as some handy translation for Dutch menu items and everything is presented in a cheerful and easy to read format. Walk & Eat Amsterdam is a lovingly researched pocket guide and the ideal travelling companion for long-term residents and expat foodies looking for a new and edible dimension to a day out in the capital. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >