Wednesday 23 September 2020

This page is sponsored by the American Book Center and covers books about the Netherlands and expat life plus translations of Dutch-language literature and Dutch children’s books. If you are bookworm, why not sign up for ABC events?

A classic of Dutch literature: Beyond Sleep

A classic of Dutch literature: Beyond Sleep

Willem Frederik Hermans

Beyond Sleep (Nooit meer slapen) is a holy grail quest written in 1966 by classic Dutch author Willem Frederik Hermans. The book, which follows geology student Alfred Issendorf from Amsterdam to the Norwegian wilderness in search of proof of meteor impacts, is widely considered part of the Dutch literary canon Alfred travels to Norway to track down aerial photographs that would show telltale meteor craters, a theory put forth by his advisor, before joining a fieldwork expedition in the region.... More >


The Netherlands at its best: throughout the year

The Netherlands at its best: throughout the year

Frans Lemmens

Can you have too many coffee table books of photos of the Netherlands? Probably not. Frans Lemmens‘ beautiful book is a photographic journey through the country over the space of a year, taking you from sandbanks in the Wadden Sea to the vineyards and marl mines of Limburg. You will find all the cliches – tulips, windmills and cheese, as well as snow and skating –  alongside Kings’ Day and Pride. But you will also come across the Netherlands’ industrial... More >


The Rhine: a pleasant trip along one of Europe’s greatest rivers

The Rhine: a pleasant trip along one of Europe’s greatest rivers

By Ben Coates

Ben Coates says he got the idea to write about Europe’s perhaps greatest river while skating on it one Dutch winter. He overpaid for a pair of skates, headed out to the nearest canal and saw the Netherlands in an entirely different light. The Rhine traces the, well, the Rhine from its mouth on the Dutch coast to its source, Lake Toma in Switzerland. The book is part travelogue, part history book and part social commentary as author Ben Coates... More >


The Discovery of Heaven: A real Dutch Dutch classic

The Discovery of Heaven: A real Dutch Dutch classic

By Harry Mulisch

When I told Dutch friends of mine that I was going to tackle the Dutch classic The Discovery of Heaven (De ontdekking van de hemel) by Harry Mulisch they were not supportive. ‘It was the worst book I read in high school,’ one told me. ‘You should make an appointment with your therapist, you’ll need it,’ said another. Published in 1992, IT was voted the Best Dutch Language Book Ever in 2007 by readers of the NRC newspaper. When Mulisch... More >


The Dutch in the Early Modern World: a history of a global power

The Dutch in the Early Modern World: a history of a global power

Gijs Rommelse and David Onnekink

Using a metaphor of birth to adulthood, Gijs Rommelse and David Onnekink outline the history of the Dutch Republic, a critically important part of the Dutch identity. It’s an academic work, written with academics in mind, but if you want a detailed analysis of this period of Dutch history, with insights into society and culture, as well as historical events, The Dutch In The Early Modern World is for you. The book counts the birth of the Dutch Republic from... More >


A surreal exploration of the Dutch asylum system

A surreal exploration of the Dutch asylum system

Two Blankets, Three Sheets takes its title from what refugees at Dutch asylum centers are given upon arrival: two blankets, three sheets, one towel, one pillow, and one pillowcase. The book, which is hard to put down, is the surreal story of an Iraqi man who claims asylum in the Netherlands and shows the indifference of bureaucracy and the effect that has on a human being. The author, Rodaan Al Galidi, escaped Iraq in 1991 to avoid being conscripted into... More >


World War II in Dutch literature and non fiction: 12 recommended books

World War II in Dutch literature and non fiction: 12 recommended books

World War II in Dutch literature and non fiction

On May 5, the Netherlands celebrates 75 years since the end of the Nazi occupation. Here is a selection of books which focus on very specific Dutch experience during World War II, stories of everyday life, of great heroism and of tragedy. Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II Several biographies have chronicled Audrey Hepburn’s stardom, but none has covered her intense experiences through five years of Nazi occupation in the Netherlands. According to her son, Luca Dotti, ‘The... More >


Money for nothing: Do three books about ‘niksen’ make a trend?

Money for nothing: Do three books about ‘niksen’ make a trend?

Various authors

Just when you thought it was safe to sit on the sofa and stare into space for a bit, three books about doing nothing come along at once. Niksen, at least three different publishing houses would have us believe, is a Dutch lifestyle trend which the rest of us in this busy, busy world would do well to take on board. We’ve had Hygge from Denmark and the art of Japanese tidying up, so why not something about doing nothing... More >


A comprehensive guide to Dutch words in English: Cookies, Coleslaw, and Stoops

A comprehensive guide to Dutch words in English: Cookies, Coleslaw, and Stoops

Cookies, Coleslaw, and Stoops

We’ve all heard that the words cookie and coleslaw originated in Dutch. But did you know brewery and pinky are also of Dutch origin? And both Broadway and Wall Street owe their names to the Dutch as well? In her book Cookies, Coleslaw, and Stoops: The Influence of Dutch on the North American Languages, Nicoline van der Sijs,  professor of historical Dutch linguistics at Radboud University, examines the impact that Dutch people and the Dutch language have had on the... More >


India and the Netherlands – Past, Present and Future

India and the Netherlands – Past, Present and Future

By Venu Rajamony

Venu Rajamony, the Indian ambassador to the Netherlands has produced a colossal coffee table book in India and the Netherlands – Past, Present and Future. It is a lavishly illustrated encyclopedia of the cross-cultural legacy between the two countries, highlighting their economic and cultural ties – right down to yoga and museum treasures. In his introduction, the ambassador says that the book has been inspired by his two years of living in the Netherlands ‘and the desire to shed light... More >


A disturbing summer holiday: Summer House With A Swimming Pool

A disturbing summer holiday: Summer House With A Swimming Pool

Herman Koch

From the author of The Dinner, Summer House with a Swimming Pool brings together all of Herman Koch’s best: unlikeable characters, an unreliable narrator, a page-turning plot and the complicated relationships between parents and children. The narrator in this work is Dr Marc Schlosser, a general practitioner whose patients are mostly rich artist types. One of Schlosser’s more famous patients, actor Ralph Meier, invites the doctor and his family, wife Caroline and pre-teen daughters Julia and Lisa on summer holiday,... More >


Interviews with internationals: Languages of The Hague

Interviews with internationals: Languages of The Hague

Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade

Every so often a book drops into the DutchNews.nl offices that makes you smile, and Languages of The Hague is one of them. Based on a column in local paper Den Haag Centraal, the book covers 35 of the hundred or so different languages spoken in The Hague, from Russian, to Kurdish, Dutch Malay and Ngiemboon. The inspiration for the columns, says writer Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade, was a newspaper article about The Hague being the most segregated city in... More >


Facts, trivia and background stories: 68 icons of Dutch origin

Facts, trivia and background stories: 68 icons of Dutch origin

Evert de Rooij

The intro to this selection of random things which can be considered typically Dutch explains why author Evert de Rooij opted for the figure 68 – it was in 1568 that the melody which became the Dutch national anthem was first sung to ridicule the failed Siege of Chartres. The Afsluitdijk, violin player Andre Rieu, model Doutzen Kroes and racing driver Max Verstappen are among the ‘icons’ featured alongside the usual suspects of drop, pancakes, stroopwafels, Heineken beer and Giethorn.... More >


Holland Handbook: the indispensable guide to the Netherlands

Holland Handbook: the indispensable guide to the Netherlands

Xpat Media

Guides to living in the Netherlands come and go but the Holland Handbook continues to stand the test of time. This year publisher Xpat Media has just brought out no less than the 20th edition. It is a weighty, lavishly illustrated, tome with 276 pages of essential information. The 11 chapters cover all aspects of living and working in the Netherlands plus a healthy dose of history, current affairs and nice to know information. Want to bring in your pet,... More >


A young man seeks to understand his parents: Little Caesar

A young man seeks to understand his parents: Little Caesar

Tommy Wieringa

  Tommy Wieringa is one of the leading lights of modern Dutch literature and several of his novels have been translated into English. In Little Caesar, first published in 2009, he takes his central character on an odyssey in search of answers about his dysfunctional family and the legacy it left behind. Ludwig Unter, the child of artists, is born to a Austrian father and a Dutch mother in Alexandria, Egypt. His nickname is Caesarion, or little Caesar, the name... More >


A modern Dutch classic: The Dinner

A modern Dutch classic: The Dinner

By Herman Koch

A classic of modern Dutch literature, and a best seller at both home and in the US, The Dinner by Herman Koch explores what families will do to protect their own. The novel, published in English in 2012, follows four main characters during a single summer evening’s dinner. A former history teacher, Paul and his wife, Claire meet Paul’s brother, politician Serge and his wife Babette for a meal. The restaurant in the book is not specified but it is... More >


Essential reading about Amsterdam: A Brief Life of the City

Essential reading about Amsterdam: A Brief Life of the City

Geert Mak

Though it claims it’s a ‘brief’ history of Amsterdam, this Geert Mak classic takes 400 pages to cover the history of the city from the year 1,000 to the present. And every page is worth reading. What do a medieval shoe, Elsje Christiaens, Rembrandt van Rijn and the number 1,660 have in common? They all play a role in the development of Amsterdam. Mak brings to life the history of the city with historical records, diaries, anecdotes and even police... More >


A story of the Amsterdam underworld and a sister’s betrayal: Judas

A story of the Amsterdam underworld and a sister’s betrayal: Judas

By Astrid Holleeder

Judas is the story of Astrid Holleeder, a criminal lawyer who eventually decided to testify against her brother, the notorious Dutch gangland figure Willem Holleeder,  sentenced to life in jail in July on six counts of murder. Holleeder’s notoriety stretches back to 1983 when he, together with Cor van Hout and three others, kidnapped the CEO of Heineken, Freddy Heineken and his driver, Ab Doderer, from the front of the Heineken office in Amsterdam. The kidnapping catapulted Holleeder from minor... More >


A classic history of the Golden Age: The Embarrassment of Riches

A classic history of the Golden Age: The Embarrassment of Riches

By Simon Schama

This well-regarded book of Dutch history is packed with information from a variety of sources, from cookbooks to bankruptcy filings, bringing the reader an in-depth understanding of possibly the most important century of Dutch history. The Embarrassment of Riches was first published in 1987 and remains a classic work of Dutch history, in particular in for its discussion of how Dutch history shaped the country’s consensus method of political discourse. As an outsider, author and history professor Simon Schama, was... More >


A guide to modern Dutch architecture: Best Buildings Holland

A guide to modern Dutch architecture: Best Buildings Holland

Toon Lauwen

If you think modern Dutch building means concrete monoliths, or endless rows of identical post-war blocks of flats, think again. This nifty little guide contains 84 of the Netherlands best buildings completed after 1900, compiled partly on the recommendations of 10 leading architects and other designers. Of course it includes the classics, like the Amsterdam school ‘Socialist’ housing Het Schip, Berlage’s Stock Exchange in Amsterdam (1903), and designs by household names like Gerrit Rietveld and Rem Koolhaas. But there are... More >