Wednesday 05 October 2022

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 lot more than 60 guilders: The Island at the Center of the World

A lot more than 60 guilders: The Island at the Center of the World

Russsel Shorto

We all think we know the story of how the Dutch purchased a little island from Native Americans for 24 dollars and then traded it to the British for Suriname. But the tale is far more complicated and interesting than that. American journalist Russell Shorto gives us the full picture in his accessible and riveting book, The Island at the Center of the World. Published in 2004, The Island at the Center of the World starts with 17th-century English seaman... More >


Logo Land: A fascinating look at local history

Logo Land: A fascinating look at local history

By Amit Biswas

If you’ve ever visited a bookstore looking for books about the Netherlands, or checked out the books section on this website, you will know just how much choice there is out there. There are books about how to settle in the Netherlands, how to cook traditional Dutch food or even some of the ugliest places in the country to visit. But until now, there has never been a book explaining the history of the logos of each of the Netherlands’... More >


The Penguin Book Of Dutch Short Stories: A nice overview of Dutch literature

The Penguin Book Of Dutch Short Stories: A nice overview of Dutch literature

Joost Zwagerman

Dutch writer Joost Zwagerman gathered what he considered to be the most interesting and important short writing of the Dutch language and organised their translation to English resulting in the 2016 Penguin Book of Dutch Short Stories.  The 36-story anthology was a trimmed-down version of Zwagerman’s original publication, Dutch and Flemish literature from 1880 in 250 stories, which was published in 2005. The English-language version spans nearly a century or writing – the earliest work is from 1915 and the... More >


Hellcat of The Hague: The Nel Slis Story

Hellcat of The Hague: The Nel Slis Story

Caroline Studdert

Just before the start of World War II, American press agency Associated Press expanded into Europe at around the same time as a Dutch nurse, Nel Slis, changed her career from nursing to journalism. She would go on to become AP’s first correspondent in The Hague, earning herself the nickname Hellcat of The Hague. Irish journalist Caroline Studdert wrote a book, using that nickname for the title, to tell the story of Slis’ colourful life. First published in 2013, with... More >


A humorous take on struggling with the Dutch language

A humorous take on struggling with the Dutch language

NA Cuey-na-Gael

It was written more than 100 years ago, but the struggles faced by the protagonist in An Irishman’s Difficulties with the Dutch Language will still be very relatable to those learning Dutch today. The short book, only 134 pages, recounts the experience of Jack O’Neill, an Irish student at Trinity College Dublin, who has moved to the Netherlands to learn the Dutch language. First published in 1908 under the pen name Cuey-na-Gael, the book was in fact written by Rev... More >


Place: A look at someone searching for home

Place: A look at someone searching for home

By Hannah Huber

Place follows the story of American Jill Stone, a journalist married to a Dutchman, who has spent her entire working life in the Netherlands. Following their daughter’s graduation from high school, the family has decided to relocate to the United States to be closer to Jill’s family. Just as they are hosting their goodbye party, Jill gets offered her dream job but the position would require her to stay. Unsure of what to do, Place explores what it’s like to... More >


100 Dutch-language poems: A lovely look at Dutch poetry

100 Dutch-language poems: A lovely look at Dutch poetry

Selected and translated

Following the success of a similarly named book, 100 Danish Poems: From the Medieval Period to the Present, translators Paul Vincent and John Irons set out to compile the history of Dutch poetry in a parallel fashion. The result, 100 Dutch-language Poems: From the Medieval Period to the Present Day, brings together a lovely collection of poetry from the Netherlands and Belgium. Vincent and Irons, both former professors turned translators, won the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize in 2016 for their book. ... More >


The Dinner Club: A pleasant summer beach read

The Dinner Club: A pleasant summer beach read

by Saskia Noort

A classic of the Dutch crime thriller genre, Saskia Noort’s The Dinner Club (De eetclub in Dutch) follows a group of friends in a posh Dutch village who form a dinner club. Tragedy ensues, revealing that behind the facade of the fancy villas, things much more sinister are going on. Nominated for The Golden Noose (De Gouden Strop) for best Dutch crime novel, The Dinner Club was Noort’s third book when it was published in 2004. She’s gone on to... More >


The Twin: The beauty and sadness of the platteland

The Twin: The beauty and sadness of the platteland

Is The Twin about a man caring (poorly) for his dying father while dreaming of another life in Denmark? Or about a man constrained by the responsibilities of family and rural life? Or is it about a man who really likes donkeys? Dutch writer Gerbrand Bakker’s debut novel The Twin (Boven is het stil in Dutch) is about all of those things. Published in Dutch in 2006 and in English in 2008, it won the €100,000 International Dublin Literary Award,... More >


Will: A difficult but authentic look at history

Will: A difficult but authentic look at history

Jeroen Olyslaegers

Considering its impact on history and the scar it left on humanity, it is unsurprising that so many books have been written about World War II and its aftermath. This time, we are focusing on a book about the Belgian experience, which is very relevant to the Netherlands as well. Many war books focus on the heroic acts of brave resistance fighters, or the horrors and torment of victims. But few dive into the day-to-day lives of those neither hero... More >


Herman Koch’s The Ditch is good but not great

Herman Koch’s The Ditch is good but not great

In his 11th novel, Dutch bestselling author Herman Koch skewers the polite racism and classism of Dutch society but fails to bring the plot to satisfaction. The Ditch follows Robert Walter, the fictional mayor of Amsterdam, who at the outset of the novel becomes convinced his wife, who originates from an unnamed ‘southern’ country, is cheating on him with one of the city’s aldermen. Walter concludes this based on little more than a fleeting interaction, but the thought consumes him.... More >


A mystical journey to Suriname, and the superpower of the Jaguarman

A mystical journey to Suriname, and the superpower of the Jaguarman

The superpower of the Jaguarman

Raoul de Jong was 28 when he first received word from his long estranged father. A note, purporting to be from his father’s girlfriend, appeared in the letterbox of his antikraak flat in Rotterdam with the words: ‘I am looking for my son’. After dispelling initial suspicions of a malicious ploy by his junkie neighbours, De Jong discovered not only was the contact genuine, but his father – now a volunteer at an Christian book shop in Amsterdam – was... More >


The Sisters of Auschwitz is a gripping true story about World War II

The Sisters of Auschwitz is a gripping true story about World War II

It’s a pity that the English language publishers of Roxane van Iperen’s ‘T Hooge Nest (the high nest) decided to change the name into The Sisters of Auschwitz, because your expectations are already set by the time you pick up the book. And the Auschwitz connection, with the fleeting mentions of Anne and Margot Frank and all its grim reality, is only a minor part of the story. For this is the story of a house and its occupants, and... More >


Where tolerance finds its limits: Murder in Amsterdam

Where tolerance finds its limits: Murder in Amsterdam

Ian Buruma

Published in 2006, Murder in Amsterdam explores the relationship between immigration in the Netherlands, particularly from Turkey and Morocco, and the 2004 murder of film director Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh – 47 years old at the time of his death – was the great-grandson of Theo van Gogh, brother of famed Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. Born and raised in The Hague, he first worked as a television producer and director and later became a newspaper columnist and author.... More >


Let’s Talk Dutch: Dutch culture explained in typical words & expressions

Let’s Talk Dutch: Dutch culture explained in typical words & expressions

By Lucy Deutekom

Lucy Deutekom says in the introduction to her self-published book ‘Let’s Talk Dutch’ that her aim is to provide the reader with a deeper understanding of Dutch society by explaining common sayings and expressions. She does this by combining odd bits of history with facts and figures about subjects such as Dutch directness, cycling and dairy products with a sprinkling of phrases with an explanation of where they come from. Een tandje bijzetten (add a tooth, meaning to put in... More >


The Discomfort of Evening: a moving, but difficult read

The Discomfort of Evening: a moving, but difficult read

By Marieke Lucas Rijneveld

Unflinching, sometimes grotesque, this prize-winning novel follows Jas, a 10-year-old growing up on a dairy farm in a strict Protestant household. When tragedy strikes, the family unravels and Jas blames herself, leading to increasingly harmful behavior.  Published in Dutch 2018 and English in 2020, The Discomfort of Evening became the first Dutch novel to win the International Booker Prize, (and only the third Dutch nomination. Dutch literature stalwarts Tommy Wieringa and Harry Mulisch have previously been nominated.) The author, Marieke... More >


The American Netherlander: 25 years of expat tales

The American Netherlander: 25 years of expat tales

Greg Shapiro

‘If you are looking for an official guide to Dutch culture, this is not it,’ writes comedian Greg Shapiro, in the introduction to his new anthology, The American Netherlander. ‘But if you are looking for one man’s completely subjective and utterly biased impression of Dutch culture, then you have come to the right place.’ Shapiro’s new book, celebrating his 25 years in the Netherlands, combines the best of his two previous sold-out tomes. It’s an easy to pick up collection,... More >


All you need to know about Dutch biking culture: The Cycling Paradise

All you need to know about Dutch biking culture: The Cycling Paradise

Think of the Netherlands and once you have got through the tourist board cliches, bikes are bound to be on your list. There are, after all, more bikes than people, so they are very difficult to avoid. The Cycling Paradise takes a broad look at the Dutch cycling phenomena with lots of jolly pictures of people on bikes – in the snow, with their dogs, carrying a mattress or just getting from A to B. Newcomers will appreciate the advice... More >


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 >