There are plenty of great summer reads out there. Here’s the Dutch News’ crew’s favourite Dutch reading – most of which is in translation.
Summer house with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch is really appropriate for the weather because it is about a family that has gone away for a summer holiday. Koch does a great job writing really smart books that are easy to read and addressing Dutch class anxiety which does not get talked about a lot.
I have a stack of books waiting to be read this summer, but the one thing I am going to take with me is the Penguin Book of Dutch Short Stories, edited by Joost Zwagerman. All the masters and mistresses of Dutch literature are in there, and short stories are the perfect way to relax.
We are our Brains by Dick Swaab is a fascinating tale of the key neuroscientific phenomena going on in our brains from the moment we’re in the womb until we die. And it’s written in accessible language for a not-so-scientific audience.
No writer explores the ambiguity and menace of the Dutch war years, and its difficult legacy, better than Otto de Kat in his novellas (such as Man on the Move) and series of novels, beginning with Julia. The Homecoming by Anna Enquist is a fine historical novel by a writer who deserves to be better known. And Adri van der Heijden’s Tonio will resonate with anyone who has lost someone they loved too soon.
He’s not Dutch but he wrote in Dutch so he counts. Flemish author Willem Elsschot (1882-1960) wrote many great novels but the one I go back to is Tjip/De Leeuwentemmer. He called ‘a simple family story’ and that is what it is, complete with Elsschot’s humour and tenderness.
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