In My Father’s Garden (novel)

In My Father’s Garden (novel)

This successful novel from Dutch author Jan Siebelink, In My Father's Garden, is now available in English. The book, which won the 2005 Literatuurprijs, follows Hans, a father and gardener who becomes more and more obsessed with Calvinism as the story progresses. The book starts with Hans Sievez as a child and follows him to adulthood, where he marries his childhood sweetheart and they develop a flower nursery together. However, a man from Hans past brings him into devout Calvinism which ultimately tests his relationship with his wife and his children. Set in several parts of the Netherlands, the book does a wonderful job depicting the Dutch countryside and living conditions of the time. Siebelink develops interesting characters whose stories you genuinely become involved in. The story can become convoluted, however, especially as it jumps ahead in time. In all, an interesting read, both for the characters and for live in the Netherlands in the post-WWII era. Buy this book  More >



24 Oranges

24 Oranges

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


Amsterdamming

Amsterdamming

Three years in Amsterdam and counting! Daily journeys through the streets of this cosy and beautiful city. More >



Holland Cycling

Holland Cycling

Explore the Netherlands the Dutch way - by bicycle. Includes where to go, planning your trip, tips and info. More >


Neamhspleachas

Neamhspleachas

Molly Quell is an American journalist who blogs about everything she finds shiny. More >


Amsterdive

Amsterdive

Amsterdam based actress invites you to dive with her into the cultural life of the city. More >


Amsterdam Foodie

Amsterdam Foodie

Amsterdam restaurant reviews, seasonal recipe suggestions and all the latest culinary news from a local foodie. More >



Invading Holland

Invading Holland

The adventures of an accident-prone English man who arrived in the Netherlands in 2001 for a six month stay. More >



European Mama

European Mama

A blog by a Polish mother living in the Netherlands with her German husband and two daughters. 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 >


Little Kingdom by the Sea

Since the late 1950s, Dutch flag carrier KLM has been giving little Delft blue and white pottery houses to its first class (now business class) passengers. The houses, actually little bottles containing jenever, or Dutch gin, are all based on real buildings and Little Kingdom by the Sea tells their stories. The little houses are beloved by collectors and offered for sale on auction sites and specialist websites all over the internet. Among the collectors, the book says, is celebrated author Gabriel Garcia Marques who asked for a number of minatures in return for writing an article for the airline's magazine. King Willem-Alexander is said to be a collector as well, and when princess Christina put her collection up for sale at Sotheby's, it was bought by the Hungarian honorary consul. Every year gin maker Lucas Bols and KLM get together to decide which building to use next - a decision ultimately taken by KLM's chief executive. The buildings which have been turned into miniatures range from royal palaces to bars, from merchants homes and museums and all have their own stories to tell. If you are a collector, the book is a great source of information about the houses, from number one to number 95. If you like Dutch history, it is a treasure trove of stories. There are also suggestions for several heritage trails, including a historical pub crawl in Amsterdam which takes you past many of the bars which feature in the collection. One note of caution - it is a weighty little book and too thick to read comfortably with one hand. The English is also slightly clunky at times. Nevertheless, Little Kingdom by the Sea offers readers an exclusive peek into the lives of the people who lived in the houses and includes portraits of pioneers, adventurers and other glamorous figures who made their mark on Dutch history. Buy this book  More >


Atlas of Amsterdam

If you like big chunky books packed with illustrations and odd bits of information you can't do better than the English language version of the Atlas of Amsterdam. This weighty tome contains over 250 pages of full colour maps, photographs and diagrams detailing the minutiae of Amsterdam, from the number of bikes to a map of Zorgvlied cemetary, from property values to a guide to the city in Rembrandt's time. Want to know about protected trees, the location of gay bars, where murders and gangland killings take place or simply where you can find a specialist book shop? It's all there. The atlas is divided into clear topics focusing on key aspects of the city's development, from its evolution to the make up of the population, its industries and culture. The final section zooms in on the eight borough regions. It's a coffee table book to pick up and put down rather than something to read in bed. But there is a fascinating fact on every page. The translation is deft if a little clumsy in places, but given the main focus is on the visuals, the odd convoluted sentence is easy to ignore. And at just under €30, the atlas would be a great gift for any Amsterdamophile. Buy this book  More >


Hieronymus

Marcel Ruijters is an award winning Dutch comic artist with a fascination for medieval art, which is obvious in his own artwork. As part of the 2016 programme of festivities commemorating the 500th anniversary of the death of Hieronymus Bosch, Ruijters was commissioned by the Bosch 500 Foundation and Mondriaan Art Fund to produce a graphic book about the artist’s life. The result of this commission is the graphic novel Hieronymus (English) or Jheronimus (Dutch version), a hard-covered comic arranged in five chapters and filled with phantasmagorical images recognisable from Bosch’s own art. A history trip Rather than a comprehensive biography, the five chapters cover various significant periods in the author’s life. The drawings add the historical context to the narrative: the role of the Church; the public hatred of the Dominican Order for their participation in the Inquisition; the 1463 fire that destroyed a considerable section of Den Bosch’s inner city buildings; and a culture that incorporated both debauchery and chronic hardships. The story of Hieronymus is weaved through the illustrations, depicting him as the third son in a family of artists – who made a living producing artworks commissioned by the Church. As a young man he questioned his work and domestic situation, almost moving to Belgium before heeding the foreboding of a palm reader he encountered in a tavern. On his return to Den Bosch, he is confronted by serious family conflict that eventually results in his taking control of the business. Bizarre and amazing art Ruijters’ illustrations are difficult to describe. Often simultaneously gruesome and hilarious, especially the images of convicted criminals having their limbs chopped off and genitals mutilated in front of a jeering crowd, and under the supervision of a religious dignitary. Individual characters have unique features and expressions, an impressive feat considering the numerous crowd scenes. Background sketches of a Dutch city and surrounding countryside in the 1500s seem authentic, often including unsavory details like freak show employees and leper colonies hassling for coins. Who was Hieronymus? I thoroughly enjoyed this graphic ride but was left with some unanswered questions about the artist and his work. What is the actual story behind the surreal creatures in his famous triptych ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’? Was Hieronymus having fun or mentally ill as he painted these images? Hopefully, the flurry of activities being organised to commemorate 500 years since his death will answer them. Ana McGinley books@dutchnews.nl  More >


The Low Sky: Understanding the Dutch

Fully updated and revised, this book is considered a classic guide to getting to grips with the natives. And yes, that big sky does have an impact! Doe maar gewoon dan doe je gek genoeg ? Act normally, that?s crazy enough. Nine out of ten people in the Netherlands will quote this well-worn saying if asked to come up with a basic trait of the Dutch character. At times Dutch people will ignore you politely at others they will go out of the way to help you. You will get into trouble with the authorities for putting up a fence without permission but, in the late evenings, many family television channels broadcast pornography and advertisements for telephone sex into your living room. Even your best friends reach for their diaries to make a dinner date, because you don't just drop by without being invited. And when you buy them a present they will open it in front of you without batting an eyelid. A country and a people full of paradoxes. Or is there some kind of system behind it all? Han van der Horst paints a picture of Dutch society and the Dutch psyche that will help expatriates to understand the country they are living in and to function properly at work and in their free time. The Low Sky : Understanding the Dutch is the best guide to the Netherlands and its people. This latest edition has been completely reviewed and updated to do justice to the major social changes that have affected Dutch society in recent years. Buy this book  More >


The Anatomy Lesson

In 1632 serial thief, Adriaen Adriaenszoon (known as Aris Kindt), was sentenced to death by hanging in Amsterdam. The Anatomy Lesson is based on the events that take place on the day of his death and dissection as depicted in Rembrandt'Ž“s famous painting, Ž•The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes TulpŽ“, an artwork commissioned by the Amsterdam Surgeons' Guild. This second novel from American writer, Nina Siegal, is contrived from historical records and coloured by prose. The narrative chronicles Kindt_Ž“s life, the lives of the individuals laying claim to the dead man_Ž“s body: Dr Tulp (the anatomist) Flora (the woman pregnant with his child) Rembrandt (artist) Jan Fetchet (curio collector and acquirer of medical cadavers) and Kindt himself (both alive and dead). Siegal has obviously spent copious time researching the subject matter. This historic authenticity of The Anatomy Lesson makes it easy for the reader to conjure up the people, places and events described in the narrative. Her descriptions of the cold, greyness of the Dutch winter are commendable. The tale rumbles gently along. At times it reads more as a play than a novel. Characters enter the stage and present a short monologue before exiting. The audience enjoy the performance, while anticipating the moment when the denouement reels the characters and story together into a satisfying conclusion. Needless the say, no more can be added without giving away the end of the book. Some readers may feel that the author's concentration on detail is pedantic and slows the flow of the narrative and the pace is slowed by the adoption of numerous characters narrating the story. Chapter headings give no clue to the identity of the narrator, leaving it to the reader to deduce from whose perspective the story is being told. Adding to this, sometimes confusing, mix is the occasional interruption by a present-day conservator employed to restore the painting (notably easier to identify due to a change in font). This literary style demands full reader concentration. Despite these niggles, The Anatomy Lesson is an enjoyable read. It provides the reader with an historical insight into a specific time period in the Netherlands, and an interpretation of the background story behind one of the most renowned paintings of the Golden Age, which now hangs at Mauritshuis in The Hague. Buy this book Ana McGinley  More >


Quiet Amsterdam

Now here's an idea. Why not write a book about quiet, reflective little nooks in one of Europe's most vibrant and bustling little cities? What might sound like a dull excuse for a tourist guide, is actually an understated stroke of genius from an expat resident just looking for a spot of tranquility, in a tiny city with a reported four million visitors a year. Siobhan Wall, author of Quiet Amsterdam, has penned an elegant little Baedeker inviting readers to seek out over one hundred idyllic and rarely-seen places, in and around Amsterdam. Although the chapters list all the usual tourist necessities such as restaurants, museums, parks and so on, each place has been specially chosen for its peaceful qualities. This is unlikely to be of much interest to first timers visiting the capital, who will want to see all the usual stuff you associate with Amsterdam, but for long-time residents and natives, this offers something unique, and a novel way to explore some interesting and little-known corners of the city. As with anything Dutch there are a few quirky inclusions, such as the Schipol Airport Meditation Room (free entry with any valid airline ticket once you get through the security checkpoint), and my personal favourite, Spa Zuider, where nakedness is strictly enforced everyday throughout the year, except on Tuesdays. Everywhere mentioned in this charming and delightful little book is within a 45 minute bus, tram or cycle ride from Centraal Station. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl shelleyantscherl@me.com  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 >


The Dutch Maiden

Marente De Moor, born in 1972 is the daughter of writer Margriet de Moor and visual artist Heppe de Moor. She studied literature and Slavonic languages at University of Amsterdam, and after graduation, moved to Russia for 10 years. Her work as a columnist for De Groene Amsterdammer and Vrij Nederland, has been respectively collated and published as De Peterburgse Vertellingen and Kleine Vogel, Grote Man. Marente de Moor published her first novel, De Overtreder (translation: The Transgressor) in 2007. Her second, De Nederlandse Maagd (2010), sold over 70,000 copies and was awarded both the AKO Literatuurprijs (2011) and the EU Prize for Literature (2014). This prize winning novel, translated into English by David Doherty, was published by World Editions earlier in 2016 under the title The Dutch Maiden. The novel’s main character is Janna, an 18-year-old fencer, is sent from her home in Maastricht to the German town of Aachen, where she stays with Egon van Bötticher, a German aristocrat and fencing master, her father befriended during the first World War. Janna arrives in Germany in the summer of 1936, a period of disquietude with unresolved grievances leftover from WWI, and the laying of early groundwork for the political climate that would give birth to WWII. Numerous themes and storylines run through the novel and overlap in the lives of the main characters. Egon was rescued the Dutch soldiers during WWI and taken to a Dutch hospital to recover and be observed by Janna’s father, a doctor with a keen interest in medical science. This relationship does not sprout the roots of a friendship, yet the reason the men remain connected to one another two decades on, is one of the conundrums running through the narrative. Janna’s relationship with Egon, a disfigured older man who seems to prefer animals to humans, is also bewildering. Attraction to Egon, especially as Jana is in the constant company of the prepossessing identical twins, Fredreich and Siegbert, who are also her peers and fencing partners seems unlikely and is only barely explained by the author. In the larger picture, the narrative exposes the German negative attitude to the Dutch in comments made about Janna and her father. Friction within Germany is highlighted by the presence of Nazi-supported Heinz and some members of the Mensur congregation who gather at Egon’s estate to indulge in this forbidden fencing tradition that seeks to inflict physical injuries to evince courage. The Dutch Maiden has beautifully constructed chapters, which have been preserved in translation. The narrative promises to take the reader on a journey that will uncover and explain the characters and the reasons they do what they do.  These promises are quietly kept, and although this may disappoint some readers, it seems to be almost idiosyncratic trait of many esteemed Dutch authors. An interesting, recommended read. Buy this book Ana McGinley  More >


Uit Kijk Punten/ Scenic Points Amsterdam

If you'Ž“ve ever stood on top of a building looking out over a big city and wondered what you can see in the distance then Uit Kijk Punten might tickle your fancy. Eelco van Geene and Marijke Mooy have created an alternative guide book that instead of leading you around the city at ground level, views Amsterdam from above and nicely presents it in photographs. Uit Kijk Punten shows panoramic shots of the Amsterdam skyline in every direction from 30 different vantage points around the city like Westerkerk, Centraal Station and even Schiphol Airport (!), and all the main landmarks and interesting sights are indicated on the horizon. Each photo is accompanied with practical information in Dutch and English, ensuring it appeals to residents and tourists alike and _Ž•Visitor info_Ž“ includes transport advice, entry costs, wheelchair access (or lack of it) and nearby refreshment outlets. An especially nice touch is the photography tip for amateur snappers on every page. At just over 200 pages and A5 size, Uit Kijk Punten is quite chunky, but it'Ž“s still small enough to fit in a rucksack and it makes a refreshing change to traditional fact-laden and touristy city guides. And if you enjoy photography, then this provides a new and unorthodox view of the capital. If you'Ž“ve lived here for years or you think you'Ž“ve seen everything in Amsterdam then Uit Kijk Punten offers a great opportunity to explore this wonderful little city from a whole new panoramic perspective. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >


The Art of Living in Amsterdam

Amsterdam's historic network of concentric canals earned UNESCO World Heritage status in 2010. The impressive architecture and facades of this elegant town centre are mirrored by the luxury and chic of the building's interiors. Italian photographer Listri and author Van Ogtrop take the reader on an indulgent photographic tour of this refined environment, where the Dutch Golden Age past meets with contemporary interior design and technologies in the homes of artists, collectors and antique dealers. Buy this book    More >