notes on dutch literature

Posts Tagged ‘Herman Koch’

Must read in 2014

In Pick of the Week on January 26, 2014 at 4:42 PM

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Huffinton Post selected Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch as one of the 30 books you need to read in 2014.
Koch, the author of The Dinner brings us another insightful-sounding story. This one is about a botched medical procedure, performed by Marc “doctor to the stars” Schlosser, and resulting in the death of actor Ralph Meier. The pair and their families had spent the previous summer together near the Mediterranean – that’s when things started going wrong.

High Impact 14th – 19th January 2013

In Festivals on December 9, 2012 at 9:00 PM

High Impact Literature from the Low Countries
As preparations for High Impact go into turbo drive Michele Hutchison takes her seat as tour blogger. High Impact: Literature from the Low Countries – to give its full title – is a festival and tour in which six top Dutch-language writers from Flanders and The Netherlands will give readings in six cities around the UK. Hutchinson introduces the concept and thinking behind the whole project. Here’s her interview with the Artistic Director Rosie Goldsmith about what it all means.

The six participating writers:

Lieve Joris: her journalism & non-fiction books on Africa, China, the Middle East & Europe have earned her the reputation as the VS Naipaul or Ryszard Kapuscinski of the Low Countries. Author of the acclaimed The Rebel’s Hour (Atlantic, 2008)
Powerful and timely, intensely imagined’ (Paul Theroux)

Herman Koch: former actor & comedy star; best-selling novelist – in the Netherlands & round the world – of the thrilling, chilling mega-hit The Dinner (Atlantic, 2012)
Proves how powerful fiction can be in illuminating the modern world’ (The Economist)

Ramsey Nasr: the Dutch Poet Laureate & all-round Renaissance Man (actor, director, poet, journalist & librettist), famed for his beautiful prose, provocative politics & exciting public appearances. Heavenly Life was published by Banipal in 2010. ‘With this collection Anglophone readers are introduced to a poet of global scope’ (Marilyn Hacker)

Peter Terrin: this year’s winner of the prestigious AKO Literature Prize & author of the magnificent psychological thriller The Guard (Maclehose Press, 2012). ‘A rich and gripping mix of all the ingredients that make for a truly haunting atmosphere’ (Writers’ Hub)

Chika Unigwe: Born in Nigeria, at home in Belgium; poet, short story writer & award-winning novelist of On Black Sisters’ Street (Vintage, 2009). ‘Exquisitely observed and heartbreaking’ (The Guardian)

Judith Vanistendael: The Posy Simmonds of Belgium; the bold & brilliant graphic novelist of When David Lost His Voice (Self Made Hero, 2012). ‘Big, bleak, brilliant and stark’ (The Economist)

Entertainment for the Middle Classes?

In Interviews on November 28, 2012 at 6:00 PM

English PEN
Over a million copies sold, multiple translations, a stage adaptation – does Herman Koch’s The Dinner show us a new way for Dutch literature? Michele Hutchison investigates for PEN Atlas

Not long after I’d moved to Amsterdam and become interested in Dutch literature, I was confronted with an exotic word: straatrumoer. Literally, ‘the sound from the street’. I learned that, in the 1980s, an academic called Ton Anbeek, who’d spent time in the States, had caused ripples in the literary world by suggesting that contemporary Dutch literature needed a lot more of it. Anbeek had compared recent American fiction with Dutch and came to the conclusion that Dutch fiction contained too little political engagement and too much navel-gazing. Novelists should work harder to reflect and comment on social reality, presumably as Don Delillo and Thomas Pynchon did.

Anbeek was lucky, just then a new generation of young writers like Joost Zwagerman, Arnon Grunberg, Ronald Giphart, and Hafid Bouzza came along, and the problem ostensibly was addressed. Contemporary social reality and politics – matters outside the protagonist’s psyche – gained a larger role in fiction. Psychological fiction moved towards faction. Nevertheless, public complaints against Dutch literature rumbled on. In 2006, then Prime Minister, JP Balkenende, wrote to eminent novelist Harry Mulisch lamenting the lack of social engagement in the arts. Where was the Grand Design? Vision? Ideals? Anbeek’s criticism had resurfaced and had even been added to the country’s political agenda!

Read the rest of this article on the website of English PEN

High Impact: Literature from the Low Countries

In Festivals on November 20, 2012 at 10:13 AM

High Impact Literature from the Low Countries

Lieve Joris, Herman Koch, Ramsey Nasr, Peter Terrin, Chika Unigwe, Judith Vanistendael and Geert Mak. All award-winning and best-selling authors from Belgium and the Netherlands.

From 14th – 19th January 2013 these Dutch and Belgian authors will tour from Liverpool to London. 6 cities for 6 nights of readings & debates, to showcase the excellent literature from Flanders & the Netherlands in English translation

HIGH IMPACT brings this unique group of writers together. You’ll hear the Dutch Poet Laureate side by side with Belgium’s leading graphic novelist; 2 global best-sellers, a thriller writer, a celebrated historian and a travel writer, together on stage every night. Each night a different city, a different theme, a different type of venue (a church, theatre, an arts centre). During the final gig they will perform alongside English literati such David Mitchell, Tracy Chevalier and Deborah Moggach, themselves famous writers on Dutch themes: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, The Girl With The Pearl Earring and Tulip Fever.

More info @Dutch Foundation for Literature

The Dinner deserves its success

In Review on November 17, 2012 at 1:07 PM

The dinner - Herman Koch

The Dinner by Herman Koch. Translated by Sam Garrett, published by Atlantic; £12.99. To be published in America in February 12, 2013 by Hogarth; $24

It is almost unheard of for a Dutch novel to become an international bestseller, but Herman Koch’s The Dinner has done the trick. In the Netherlands this psychological thriller sold 400,000 copies in hardback alone, and has so far sold more than 1m copies worldwide. Despite a deceptively shaky narrative start, The Dinner deserves its success. Simon Kuper, Financial Times

Fine dining, at least in the West, is a drama in five acts. The arc moves from aperitif to digestif, from first course to dessert, the curtain rising with each unveiled plate. The five-course dinner is such a perfect theatrical setting in which to spy on unhappy families that it is surprising meals are not used more often by fiction writers and playwrights.

Herman Koch, a 58-year-old Dutch actor and comedian, has filled the gap with a novel that became an immediate bestseller when it was first published in the Netherlands in 2009. “The Dinner” has since sold more than 1m copies in 24 countries, from Norway to South Korea.

Mr Koch’s sixth novel is a psychological thriller about two Dutch families, each with a 15-year-old son. The boys have committed a horrifying act, which has been caught on camera. Grainy images of them cackling cruelly have been put up on YouTube. Despite a nationwide manhunt, the boys remain unidentified—by everyone except their parents.

Read the Economist review here.

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