Other Dutch Writers
Join LibraryThing to post.
This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.
Een zakenlunch in Sintra, en andere Portugese verhalen
Finished reading: 5 January 2011
Gerrit Komrij is another Dutch writer who has made a foreign country, viz. Portugal, his new home. Komrij is mostly known as a compiler of Dutch poetry anthologies and criticism. Much of his work consists of columns or collections of aphorisms. Komrij, who often strikes people as a grumbling old man, has noted that Portugal allows him to live away from the Netherlands, but be near enough to get there regularly for work.
Besides compilations and criticism, Komrij has published a small body of fiction, three or four novels, some short stories, and one piece of autobiographical fiction, named Vila Pouca. Kroniek van een dorp. The sub title of this book is "chronicle of a village", and it is more about the place than about the man. In fact, the other man in his life does not even make an appearance.
Most of Komrij's fiction, however, seems to be autobiographical, or bearing strong resemblance to the life and experiences of a Dutch author in a tiny Portuguese village. Een zakenlunch in Sintra, en andere Portugese verhalen is such a collection of stories, which each show an aspect of living in Portugal. To Dutch people, and possibly others, life in a Portuguese village, as life in the countryside of Spain might also, conjures up the image of rural simplicity, and backwardness with a rich sprinkling of corruption. Incredible corruption and bureaucracy is what the title story is about. While corruption is found among civil servants and city dwellers, Komrij pictures life in the village as pastoral and uncorrupted, age-old men and women, who seem to be living in another age, and a handsome youth, oblivious to the effect on the writer of flaunting his tanned body. Shame, lust and shyness are a triplet found in several of his works.
Other books I have read by Gerrit komrij:
Vila Pouca. Kroniek van een dorp.
Finished reading: 6 March 2011
Henk van Woerden was a Dutch writer and painter. Born in the Netherlands his parents moved to South Africa when he was three years old. Van Woerden moved to Amsterdam at the age of 20. His book Een mond vol glas was published in English as A Mouthful of Glass or The assassin: a story of race and rage in the land of Apartheid (American edition, transl. by Dan Jacobson, 2000)
Ultramarijn is Van Woerden's last novel, with which he broke through to a larger audience. While the Mediterranean is a familiar setting for novels, the choice of locating the story of this novel in Turkey is novel. Images of the landscape,colours and the role of music in the story, create an sensuous experience.
At the beginning of the book, the main character, Joakim has an incestuous relation with his half-sister, Aysel. To put an end to that relation, Aysel is sent to Europe, and Joakim will never see her again. Joakim grows up lonely, in his poverty-stricken village, and becomes a locally famous musician, playing the lute, often performing in pubs in a nearby coastal village, which gradually develops into a seaside resort, attracting Western tourists. One day, Joakim meets a girl, who reminds him of Aysel, and falls in love with her.
The novel is poetic, but with disturbing undertones of incestuousness. as I was reading it slowly, the novel grew on me, and I kept thinking about it for a long time after reading it.
Ultramarĳn has been translated in various languages, including Czech and Chinese.
Finished reading: 26 April 2011
Simone van der Vlught developed as a writer, by starting with the writing of books for your adult, and eventually publishing novels for regular readers, such as De reünie. This book, De slavenring was written for teenage readers, but is already very mature. A very pleasant read, that did not strike me as a book for younger people, especially.
Other books I have read by Simone van der Vlught:
Finished reading: 5 May 2011
This debut novel by the Flemish writer Brigitte Raskin reads like a really boring detective novel. It is not a usual detective story, there is no murder and they murderer who must be unmasked.
However, there is a death, and it is this dead man, who is "unmasked", as the main character makes it her mission to discover all about the identity of the deceased man she only knew superficially. The novel is the report of this search, rather boring, as the man turns out to be a very ordinary person. It is more like a documentary.
Finished reading: 31 March 2011
In April 2005, a young man, mysteriously washed up on the beach in Kent, kept the media enthralled about his identity. Rumours and misquotations led to the belief that the unknown man was a virtuoso concert pianist who had lost his mind.
The Dutch author Bernlef has picked up this story, and with some small changes, turned this news story into a short novella. Well-written.
Other books I have read by Bernlef:
Finished reading: 20 April 2011
Available in English as:
For some reason the epithet "thriller" is applied to this story, I cannot really see why. I enjoyed reading this book by Simone van der Vlugt, mainly because it was an easy and fairly gripping read in Dutch. Apparently, the author lives in my hometown. The book is available in an English translation.
Vanwege een tere huid
Finished reading: 10 May 2011
The Dutch writer Anton Koolhaas is most well-known for his novels and stories featuring animals as the main characters. However, he has written a few novels in which people form the main protagonists, featuring animals is a sub-plot.Vanwege een tere huid is one of these books.
One criterion to decide whether a book is "good", is whether it leaves an impression on the reader or not. That impression may be a sense of beauty, importance, insight, but also be a sense of disgust, a provocation or some very unsettling set of images and/or ideas. Vanwege een tere huid has certainly touched such a chord in me.
The main story is simple enough. First love, a twelve-year-old boy loves a girl, same age, but abandons her. Both are scarred for life.
The sub-plot is the story of two non-existing animals --hoedna's--, life-long mates, which can best be imagined as a kind of beaver.
The epilogue to the book is unexpectedly philosophical, and in two or three pages seems to cover more material than the essence of the story itself.
The story is best summed up by a quotation from the book: "In every woman a girl has died, in every man a boy."
Other books I have read by Anton Koolhaas:
De hond in het lege huis
Finished reading: 14 May 2011
Available in English as:
While the Dutch author Philibert Schogt is fairly unknown in the Netherlands, he seems to be very popular in North America, -- Canada and the US--, where most of his books have appeared in English translations, this book titled Daalder's Chocolates.
The opening chapter was very strong, and I enjoyed reading it with great anticipation. However, it ended with an anti-climax, later echoed by a second anti-climax at the end of the book.
This was my first book by Philibert Schogt.
Finished reading: 20 May 2011
Available in English as:
Vertraging by the Dutch author Tim Krabbé features two parallel story lines on the same theme. The main character, Jacques, a Dutch TV personality, decides to make a quick visit to his high school love, Moniek, while he makes a stop-over in Australia. What was intended as an ultra-short visit, develops into a long adventure as he is dragged into an adventure of Moniek evading the police on charges of embezzlement. Loaded with money, they manage to keep ahead for several weeks, until a surprise which throws them back onto themselves.
During their trip, Jacques thoughts wander to the years of their early friendship, and what transpires is that Moniek led him on, basically not much different from the way she leads him on in their current ordeal. Once, twice, three times a lady.
The title, "Delay" in the English translation, refers to the prolonged stop-over, as well as the suggestion of a delay between the love of their youth and the present consummation of that love.
Well-written, but rather conventional.
Other books I have read by Tim Krabbé:
Een tafel vol vlinders
Engelen van het duister
Finished reading: 3 June 2011
Jan Siebelink, for the most part of his career an unknown Dutch author before breaking through with Knielen op een bed violen in 2005, needed a vast number of pages to shape this novel, Engelen van het duister. While the publisher advertises Engelen van het duister as Siebelink's latest novel, the matter of fact is that Knielen op een bed violen is a prequel to this book, published in 2001.
Like Maarten 't Hart, Siebelink grew up in an extremely Calvinistic religious environment. I was worried, that I might not like this book very much, but have to admit that it was much better than I expected, albeit a bit long-winded and unfocussed.
Not speaking from experience, I assume that many features of the behaviour and life of the main characters, the brothers Lucas and Casper Alteveer, are symbolic for sin. Some are very evident, such as Casper prostituting himself, acting as a gigolo, and adultery, having a baby with his sister-in-law, and Lucas' human trafficking and meddling in prostitution. Many pages and side-lines to the story illustrate the further decay of society. Initially, the reader may feel that Casper's behaviour is in a way just rebellion against his dominant father, but as the novel progresses, the two brothers are becoming more and more alike, as if they are converging in sinful behaviour.
The condemning tone of the book, the rejection of modern society, which is felt widely in Dutch society, makes one wonder whether the author wants to reinstate the moral standards of the past. Possibly, the success of Knielen op een bed violen is a resounding affirmation of that.
This is the first book I have read by Jan Siebelink.
Het hemelse gerecht
Finished reading: 10 August 2011
I am not so fond of the Dutch author Renate Dorrestein, but found Het hemelse gerecht an entertaining read. It is the story of two sisters running a restaurant, one of them cooking, the other running the restaurant business. As they reach the top in culinary achievement, being awarded a Michelin star, they hit the bottom in their social affairs. An ever more unlikely tale is spun, which ends in a apocalyptic catastrophe of water, fire, death and disease.
Other books I have read by Renate Dorrestein:
Het perpetuum mobile van de liefde
Finished reading: 15 August 2011
A feature of novels, particularly, and stories by Jewish writers, regardless of their nationality, seems their unrelentless quest for their identity, coupled with a great sense of humour, often at their own expense. This makes their works extremely readable.
In Dutch literature, there are not many Jewish writers, who write that kind of literature. Unfortunately, especially among older writers the trauma of the holocaust is still all pervading - a horror of such tremendous scope and impact that no author nor reader should pass over. Belonging to a younger generation, Leon de Winter breaths more freedom in choice of themes.
Supertex is about two brothers independently rediscovering their roots. The elder brother, Max Breslauer, is a businessman leading the textile imperium. He leads a lifestyle of fast cars, penthouse and gorgeous girlfriend, until one day he is confronted with a family of orthodox Jews, in a way that literary arrests him is his stride, and leads him to contemplate his life, on the couch, and find what has been missing. Earlier, out of his sight, his younger brother Benjamin, whom Max despises, has made a similar discovery. On a business trip to Marocco, he has fallen in love and married a girl into an orthodox Jewish family.
Supertex is a very well-written, high-speed novel. De Winter plays a masterful trick on the readers portraying the orthodox Jews, and making the reader sympathize with Max in the incident which is the turning point in Max' life. Brilliant!
Other books I have read by Leon de Winter:
Knielen op een bed violen
Finished reading: 10 February 2012
Up until the publication of Knielen op een bed violen(2005) the Dutch author Jan Siebelink was relatively unknown, even in the Netherlands. Knielen op een bed violen has proved to be his opus magnum, which became a bestseller, and kindled interest in all his other work. The novel is very well-written and presents a very compelling story. This story is the biography of the author's father. Chronologically, the events in Knielen op een bed violen precede the story in the novel Engelen van het duister, which was published in 2001, and in which the two sons have different names. Another novel by Siebelink based on the same material, De kwekerij was published in 2007.
The novel is structured in two books, together seven parts, each part describing an episode in the life of the main character, Hans Sievez. The episodes are separated by intervals of about seven years, youth, apprenticeship, early marriage, etc. The story is set in the early to mid-twentieth century, somewhere between the 1920s and the 1960s; the Second World War, is only marginally referred to.
The beginning of the story shows how the young Hans runs away from home, to get away from under the suffocating religious sphere and his tyrannical father. During his apprenticeship in the Hague, he first meets Joseph Mieras, who is trying to convert him to Christianity, particularly of the same ultra-conservative denomination as that to which his father belonged. He is barely able to get rid of this person, but ultimately succeeds. The next episode described his marriage with Margje, the birth of two sons, and the difficulties of running the family business of a truck farm. After the war, Mieras gets back in touch, and converts Hans to the faith, drawing him further and further into it, and the story relates the growing tensions this causes in the family. Following a crisis, Hans severs all contacts with the group, which are however restored on his deathbed, causing more grievance and misery to his family.
The ultra-conservative religious sect, which pesters Hans Sievez consists of conservative Protestants, or Calvinists, inhabiting the so-called Dutch Bible Belt. Throughout the story, they stick to him like leeches.
The author uses some very compelling imagery to convey central motives to the story. In the first episode, Hans' pet rabbit is killed by his father. His "impotence" to protect his mother, and his sentimentality for the rabbit foreshadow his life-long inability to stand up for himself. In various episodes, throughout his life Hans is exploited and humiliated.
The pervading images describing the Calvinist preachers are dirt, ugliness and disgust. Their clothes, shoes, suitcase etc, are always dirty, mud bespattered, torn, and the books they sell Hans are all torn, missing pages, smelly and stained; They are all ugly, ugly faces, spittle in corners of the mouth, odd swellings in the neck, thin, unhygienic or otherwise disgusting, and their behaviour is always described as strange, yelling, waving arms, whispering. They always congregate in secret, ill-lit places, shadowy corners of the garden, sneaking in and out by creeping through the hedge. They are all dressed in black, none of them works or has a regular income, and they are all described as lazy parasites.
It is quite remarkable that a novel set in this fanatic, fundamentalist religious environment can attract such wide readership. I suppose it is the author's consistent unsympathetic description of the preachers, which makes the book palatable to the general reader.
While generally I am not a fan of stories and authors with this type of Calvinist background, the story is very compelling, and the novel is very well-written. A great work of literature.
Other books I have read by Jan Siebelink:
Engelen van het duister
De wilde getallen
Finished reading: 13 February 2012
Published in English as:
Philibert Schogt is a Dutch author, who was born in the Netherlands but spent his youth from the age of four to seventeen in Canada, where he grew up. As Schogt is a relatively young and not very well-known author in Holland, it is unusual that all of his novels have already appeared in English translations, especially in Canada and the United States, which makes me wonder whether he translates or authors dual language versions, Dutch and English.
De wilde getallen (The Wild Numbers) is his first novel. The title refers to a fictional unsolved mathematical problem, in the novel ascribed to the fictional 18th century French mathematician Anatole Millechamps de Beauregard, probably a reference to the Canadian mathematician Gilbert de Beauregard Robinson.
It is the main character, a lecturer at a university, Isaac Swift's ambition to solve this problem. His colleague and supervisor have also already, but unsuccessfully tried to solve the same problem. At the beginning of the novel, it seems Swift has succeeded to solve the problem, and his paper is approved by the faculty and sent to a leading academic journal. Trouble starts when a "student", an elderly retired math teacher who is clearly out of his mind and enrolled in Swift's class, accuses him of plagiarism. The suspense of the novel is based on the question whether or not Swift has used Mr Vale's notes, and whether or not Mr Vale, in a stroke of madness, has been able to solve this problem, a wild story, which leads to a surprising conclusion.
The story is quite exciting, even a bit ludicrous, and very recognizable. Fortunately, the reader does not need to be a mathematician or even have a liking for mathematics, to follow the story. Schogt's main character, Isaac Swift, does not relate very well to other people, an inhibition apparently caused by fanatic determination, something which can be seen in other characters in other novels by Philibert Schogt. There is very little character development, and some characters are stereotypical, such as the lone figure of Mr Vale. Another similarity with later novels is a sense of anti-climax: the story develops to a certain peak and then implodes like a bubble.
Other books I have read by Philibert Schogt:
Wow Edwin, I have certainly got plenty of catching up to do. It's great you have been posting here, thank you.
I found this group a short while ago. I used to write my reviews of Dutch / Flemish literature in Dutch, but since my participation in the Club Read group (since 2011), I write my reviews of Dutch literature in English. I post there, but this group seems a logical place to collect such reviews. It makes them easily accessible to people who are interested in Dutch / Flemish literature.
If I am not mistaken, we have exchanged books on Bookmooch.
Hi Edwin, I've never really explored Bookmooch, maybe I should!
Finished reading: 29 August 2012
J.J. Voskuil was a Dutch writer. Although most of his work was autobiographical, containing many references to his personal life, and travel diaries about hiking in France were published, little was known about the author prior to his student years, described in his first novel Bij nader inzien. The details, known to refer to the author are also somewhat exaggerated, as they appear in the life of his alter ego Maarten Koning in the various novels, published in his life time and posthumously.
In 2010, two years after his death, Jeugdherinneringen appeared at Van Oorschot Publishers. This small volume, a mere 60 pages, contains two autobiographical essays, describing Voskuil's earliest youth, previously published in 2007, and a longer essay focusing on his youth and the activities of his father, which was first published in 2001.
Very little autobiographical material has come out about the author, whose biography has not been published. This small publication will disappoint many, who are looking for autobiographical details which might shed light on Voskuil's career as an author.
Other books I have read by J.J. Voskuil:
Het Bureau, Vol. 7. De dood van Maarten Koning
Het Bureau, Vol. 6. Afgang
Het Bureau, Vol. 5. En ook weemoedigheid
Het Bureau, Vol. 4. Het A. P. Beerta-Instituut
Het Bureau, Vol. 3. Plankton
Het Bureau, Vol. 2. Vuile handen
Het Bureau, Vol. 1. Meneer Beerta
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.