notes on dutch literature

Archive for the ‘Books that need to be reprinted’ Category

What Water Left Behind

In Books that need to be reprinted, More poetry please on November 10, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Rutger Kopland

The poet Rutger Kopland (1934-2012) made his debut in 1966 and has published over fifteen volumes of poetry, three essay collections and a collection of travel and translation notes. He has won numerous prizes for his poetry, including the prestigious VSB Poetry Prize 1998 and the P.C. Hooft Prize 1988, one of the Dutch-speaking world’s most important literary awards. Kopland ranks high as one of the Netherlands’ best-loved poets. He speaks to his readers in a quiet, conversational style, using ostensibly simple phrases.

In 1996, Vintage Books of New York used five Koplands in its anthology, The Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry, making Kopland “a world poet”. A collection of his work was published in the USA as early as 1977, in a translation by Ria Leigh-Loohuizen: An Empty Place to Stay and other selected poems.

Other published collections of Kopland’s poetry:

A World Beyond Myself, selected poems was published by Enitharmon in 1991 translated from the Dutch by James Brockway

Memoirs of the Unknownpublished by Harvill Press in 2001. A bilingual edition with a collection of 55 poems, introduced by J.M. Coetzee and translated by James Brockway.

Paul Binding wrote in the Times Literary Supplement (2002) “[A] fine selection….Brockway devoted himself to the translation and prorogation of Dutch writers, counting Kopland, as the love and care that inform these translations attest, among the very best of them.”

J.M. Coetzee selected Kopland for his anthology Landscape with Rowers; Poetry from the Netherlands (Princeton University Press 2004)

What Water Left Behind, a collection of 40 poems published by Waxwing Poems in 2005. The collection contains new translations and unpublished translations by the late James Brockway which have been edited by Willem GroenewegenWhat Water Left Behind was shortlisted for the 2007 Corneliu M Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation.


Narrated by a canvas

In Books that need to be reprinted on November 3, 2012 at 2:41 PM

The Portrait - Willem Jan Otten

“If you, like me, come into the world white and completely blank, with nothing on you at all, you are totally dependent on what they make of you.”

The Portrait is a short and beautiful novel from one of Holland’s most talented writers Willem Jan Otten. Reminiscent of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey – a novel narrated by a canvas, an extraordinary eye-witness and participant in an incredible story.

A young painter, loved for his fine and true-to-life portraits, receives a commission that is unlike any he’s had before: make a portrait of a dead boy. ‘You will save a life with it’ says the boy’s extremely rich father. The painter knows he will have to surpass himself. He takes on the job. Who was the boy? Why is he dead? Why, when the painting is finished, does the father not come to collect it? And why is the painter actually making this painting?

The portrait is an extraordinary and thrilling novel about the desire to bring someone into the world. It is also about love and death, betrayal and trust, truth and falsehood, lies and honesty. Otten, with all the story-telling talent he has at his disposal, plays with secrets and riddles that the reader can only unravel at the very end. Ten years after his last novel (Nothing wrong with us) Otten once again shows that he can write an ingenious, contemporary and truly gripping novel in a much shorter space than many of his peers.

It was first published in Dutch as Specht en Zoon in 2005 and  after it won the prestigious Libris Literary Award in 2006, the novel was translated in German, Italian, Swedisch, Romanian and even Korean. In 2009 it was translated in English by David Colmer and published in Australia. Unfortunately it’s currently nowhere to be found, which is a shame.

Foreign rights are represented by The Susijn Agency in London, United Kingdom.

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