Dear Mr M

Dear Mr M

Herman Koch is widely acclaimed for his 2009 novel Het Diner (The Dinner) – a book that sold over 1 million copies in Europe, was translated into 21 languages, and has been produced as a play and film. In addition, Koch’s biography of work includes eight novels, seven short story collections, newspaper columns, and acting roles or collaborations with various Dutch film, television and radio programmes. Two years ago Koch published his latest novel Geachte heer M in Dutch. The book has been translated to English and released by Picador, a UK publishing house, under the title Dear Mr M In short, Dear Mr M is about a once famous writer (Mr M) adjusting to his decreasing popularity with the reading public. After an illustrious career, he is now reduced to book signings at village libraries and literary dinner events diminished by budget cuts matching the reduced earnings of the invited authors. Mr M is being stalked by someone who believes that he is a character in the author’s most famous murder mystery, and is seeking a different outcome to the tale. Thriller The book cover blurb describes the novel as a 'literary thriller', and indeed it is both literary (main character is an aging author; main plot is based on a real event shaped by the confabulations of the author without regard to facts; an abundance of criticism of the literary world) and a thriller (a missing person, many possible suspects and motives). Yet, 'literary thriller' is somewhat misleading and may disappoint readers seeking the excitement of a novel that demands to be read in a single sitting, like The Dinner. Nevertheless, Dear Mr M is a clever story. The narrative comes from the perspective of five characters covering several decades. Koch insists that the reader stay focused, offering the occasional red herring to the plot that disappears as the next clue box is opened. This technique continues to the last few pages. Not likeable The Dutch Foundation for Literature describes Herman Koch as 'an ironic-realistic writer relating dramas worth telling', who writes about characters '… burdened by their empty existence…'. Given his cast in both The Dinner and Summer House with Swimming Pool (2011), the description rings true. Koch does not create likeable people. At almost 450 pages it is a long, slow read with a cast of characters who don’t elicit reader empathy. Herman Koch exposes the underbelly of the Dutch upper class, a perspective not usually given, but perhaps one to be expected from the boy once expelled from Amsterdam’s Montessori Lyceum. Buy this book Ana McGinley  More >





Dutch Scoop

Dutch Scoop

Mary Petiet is an American writer and reporter. She is currently exploring all things Dutch as she adjusts to life in More >


A Wanderlust For Life

A Wanderlust For Life

An American expat blogging about life in Amsterdam while traveling around the country and throughout Europe. 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 >




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 >



Living With the Dutch: An American Family in the Hague

Before going to The Hague, Sharpe and her American family actually planned to move to Paris, but her husband Peter was offered a position in the Netherlands. They find typical expatriate problems on their path, learn a lot about how to tackle them and in the mean time discover a completely new country. Buy this book Review this book. Contact books@dutchnews.nl  More >


The Dutch, I Presume

All the cliches are here. This book deals with the forty best-known Dutch features and stereotypes, from windmills to Cruijff and from Rembrandt to the typical toilet. Were the clog and the infamous cheese slicer really Dutch inventions? How come some Dutch masters went bankrupt in the tulip trade? And why have most Dutch never heard of world-famous Hans Brinker? Providing the facts and unraveling the myths, this book gives you the essentials on living in the polders, and is yet another guide to surviving a Dutch birthday party. Buy this book  More >


Dutch Ditz – Manners in the Netherlands

If you're planning a move to the Netherlands or you've recently arrived then this compact little Dutch Ditz is just for you. A swift and entertaining read, it cuts straight to the chase with everything you need to know about the Dutch family living next door and their weird and wonderful language, habits and customs. If you think they can't be that different to your old neighbours at home, then think again. Who is Sinterklaas? What is a frikandel (just don't ask what' in it)? Does everyone really have supper at 6pm? And why the national obsession with orange? These are just some of the questions you will ask yourself as you become acquainted with Dutch life. Everything from basic etiquette (or lack of it), to the Dutch approach to fashion, pets, food, birthdays and children is explained and will make your introduction to this quirky little country a little less baffling. Without some kind of experienced commentary on the Dutch psyche and rituals, you'll spend a stressful first few weeks wondering if your new friends and colleagues are astonishingly blunt or just plain rude and why on earth is a 'Coffeeshop' not a coffee shop? More critical issues like healthcare and doing business in the Netherlands are also touched upon and will provide you with a basic understanding of how the systems work. Reinildis van Ditzhuyzen, also known as the 'Queen of Manners', consulted and surveyed expats of all different nationalities to compile this comprehensive and sometimes tongue-in-cheek guide to living in the Netherlands. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl shelleyantscherl@me.com  More >


NLXL – possibly the biggest book about the Netherlands you have ever seen

The Netherlands might like to consider itself a small country - a kleine kikkerlandje, as the Dutch are so fond of saying - but this is one mighty big book. Karel Tomei's NLXL weighs in at a whopping 3.5 kilos but is such a joy to look at that you will forget the weight on your knees. The book draws on the tradition of birds eye view paintings in which the world is captured from the skies: the intricate patterns of reclaimed land crisscrossed by ditches, the contrast between bulb fields and a golf course, great swathes of sand with a city in the distance, a drone's view of a busy cafe terrace, the intricate carvings on the roof of a cathedral. But it's the landscape that really rules NLXL - the Netherlands might be oh so very flat, but it still has amazing variation in its countryside - from the seaside dunes to the southern heaths, from the the seals sunning themselves on a sandbank to intricate cityscapes. NLXL will make a stunning, if heavy, present for anyone who loves the Netherlands in all its variations. You can buy NLXL at all good bookshops and online from Xpat Media   More >


Native English for Nederlanders

Native English for Nederlanders is a collection of newspaper columns by the Financieele Dagblad's deputy editor Ron van de Krol. The book shows international business men and women how to use the English language like a native, with a sprinkling of cultural insider information on top. website  More >


Stuff Dutch People Like

Based on the successful blog of the same name, Stuff Dutch People Like is a very funny look at 'all things orange'. Without the slightly sour taste of some books which poke fun at the Dutch, SDPL explores the world of white leggings, the way Dutch men (including the king) pick their noses in public and the strange world of fries and liquorice. Author Colleen Geske, a Canadian national, has lived in Europe since 2004. A communications and social media consultant by trade, Geske has a sharp eye for detail, a witty turn of phrase and an apparent warm affection for the country she has made her home. The blog has been a runaway success, particularly with the native Dutch, and some of their more bizarre and bemused comments are included in the book. Liberally illustrated, Stuff Dutch People Like is the ultimate book for smallest room in your Dutch house - alongside the birthday calendar (page 138), the sink with cold water (page 147) and underneath those impossibly steep stairs (page 128).   Buy this book  More >


The Mobile Life

The Mobile Life - a new approach to moving anywhere by veteran global citizen Diane Lemieux and Anne Parker targets individuals embarking on their first expatriate experience. Knowledgeable about the topic from both a professional and personal basis, the authors have tackled the subject with an extremely detailed interpretation of what is required to conscientiously make the decision to uproot and resettle in an unfamiliar country. REVIEW: On a university curriculum The Mobile Life would find its place on an introductory psychology course, possibly: Expat 101. The contents are broad-ranging and offer something to every potential expat moving to any part of the world. Covering all aspects of making an international move from a psychological perspective, familiar concepts like Maslow'Ž“s Hierarchy of Needs (p108) and Hall'Ž“s Analogy of Culture (p126) are included with more recently introduced terminology such as emotional intelligence (p66), moral quotient (p139) and body quotient (p144). Business Guide Adopting the phrase 'Ž•team leader'Ž“ to refer to parents supports the notion that family members work as a team. Continuing with this model, information is reminiscent of company team building days spent in closed rooms with paper and whiteboard space - where roles and responsibilities are brainstormed, documented, analyzed, and discussed to the point of consensus within the family team. History Guide Choosing the analogy of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his 1914 Antarctic expedition to explain the challenges of a global move, and the essential attributes of a good leader to ensure the survival of accompanying family members is perhaps too loose a connection in the book. Reading about Shackleton is an enjoyable distraction, yet comparing a sea captain, who travelled with his crew and became trapped for months in Antarctica before returning home to his family, with an English family being sent on their maiden expat posting in Abu Dhabi or SingaporeŽ is an obtuse comparison. Overall, the authors undoubtedly know their subject matter. The book will benefit individuals wanting to delve into the why and how questions that arise from a decision to move to a new country. The book is based on the psychology of making the transition -Ž admittedly a step many expats do not consider in their excitement at becoming global citizens. Buy this book  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 >


Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child

Guilt inevitably afflicts all expat parents when they relocate their families around the world. Despite the enormous advantages and privileges growing up as a global nomad, it's sometimes hard to reconcile this with an unhappy child, distraught at the prospect of leaving friends behind and moving country yet again. Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child seeks to help parents prepare children for their adventures abroad and ensure they can express and articulate the complex emotions at work when relocating. Julia Simens is an American educator and consultant with a focus on international relocation and in 20 years of living in five different continents she has helped many children and families adjust to their global lifestyle. Identifying key emotions at the root of distress and teaching children to communicate these feelings in words and pictures, helps youngsters confront the emotional difficulties as they learn to cope with each transition. To accompany the theory, Simens has included practical exercises throughout the chapters for both parents and children to work through. This is a book that will appeal to parents with an interest in the psychology of raising children overseas, and using this knowledge to help them cope with the emotional upheaval of leaving things behind and packing up to move on again. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >


Charlotte Brontë’s Secret Love

Dutch author, Jolien Janzing, is an expert in nineteenth century English literature, a fascination traceable to a time in her childhood when she first read English classics Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights by the Brontë sisters, Charlotte and Emily. And while it may seem an odd preoccupation for a woman who has lived most of her life in Belgium, Janzing’s erudition provides the foundation to her compelling literary work Charlotte Brontë’s Secret Love, recently published in English translation . Originally published as Meester in 2013, Charlotte Brontë’s Secret Love concentrates on the period (1840s) when Charlotte and Emily Brontë lived and worked at Pensionnat Heger, a boarding school for young ladies in Brussels. Charlotte falls in love with Constantin Heger, the husband of the school’s owner. This wretched experience of unrequited love is a crucial thread to the tale and later becomes the foundation for the character of Jane Eyre in Charlotte Brontë’s renowned novel of the same name. Factual fiction This book is constructed from available information about the Brontë sisters and is further embellished into an enjoyable narrative by adding fictional touches to fill gaps. Most of the characters and places are recognizable from historical texts. For example the letters between Charlotte and Constantin are written in a similar tone and style to the original letters yet are not the actual letters. Similarly, the supplementary storyline of King Leopold embarking on an extramarital affair with Brussels teenager, Arcadia Claret, incorporates a generous mix of fact and fiction. That ole devil called love Charlotte’s internal struggles are the source of tension apparent throughout the novel. Her struggle begins with the decision to follow her desire to escape from the confines and expectations of being the pastor’s daughter in impoverished Yorkshire - to study abroad in the cosmopolitan city of Brussels. Upon her arrival at the boarding school, her religion, clothes, language and sister are all constant reminders that she does not belong in this new world and that her survival depends on the strength of her own character. For Charlotte, being in love is the driving force that powers her through days of adversity. Many readers will find it difficult to identify what masculine wiles Constantin uses to seduce the young Charlotte. Yet her compulsive need to be acknowledged by him, even with full awareness that the situation is not conducive to a relationship, is familiar to many love stories. Setting scenes Janzings’ descriptions of culture, class and religion adeptly transport the reader between Brussels to the Yorkshire moors in the 1840s. The contrast between the teahouses and dressmaking businesses visited by Arcadia and her mother – and the Belgian wharves with men that smell to Charlotte of 'a strong odour of fish, sweat and cabbage soup' something she finds 'not totally repulsive' (pg45) are comprehensive yet seamlessly written. Jolien Janzing has been writing since she was a teenager. She continues to live in Belgium and works as a journalist and novelist. Charlotte Brontë’s Secret Love is her second novel. Beautifully translated into English by Paul Vincent, the novel has also been translated into German, French and Turkish. The book was selected for Books at the Berlinale, and film rights to the book have been sold to David P. Kelly Films. Buy this book Ana McGinley  More >