Gliding Flight

Gliding Flight

Anne-Gine Goemans is a journalist and teacher of journalism to college students in Utrecht. Her career as a novelist began in 2008 with the publication of Ziekzoekers (Unfurrowed Ground), a book that grabbed the public’s attention when awarded the Anton Wachterprijs for best debut novel. Four years later, Goemans second novel Glijvlucht won the Dioraphte Youth Literature Prize and the German M. Pionier Award for new literary talent. The film rights were sold and the book added to the curriculum in some Dutch secondary schools.  In 2015 Glijvlucht was translated into English by Nancy Forest-Flier for World Editions and published under the title Gliding Flight. Cutting to the goose chase Gliding Flight is the story of 14-year-old Gieles who lives with his father and uncle in an isolated area along a runway, a landing strip for the local airport. This setting is instrumental to the narrative – uniting the supporting characters by being a source of constant tension to the unfolding storyline. The story opens with Gieles seeking advice on the best method to teach his two geese how to fly. He does this secretly as his father is responsible for ensuring that geese and other birds do not become a hazard to planes by venturing too close to the runway. Hence, Gieles would have his geese confiscated should his father discover that they were able to fly. Further Gieles is an avid fan of ornithologist Christian Moullec and pilot captain Scully who successfully landed his plane after geese had damaged the engines. Additional characters include Gieles’ mother Ellen who is on a mission to help people in Africa; Super Waling, an obese ex-history teacher, whose own family history tells the Dutch story of human hardship as men worked to reclaim land by building polders; Mieke, the gothic girl Gieles initially meets on the internet before leaving her family to live with Gieles and his family; Tony, the sadistic school friend; and Dolly, young widow, single parent, beautician and critic of everything. Flying in formation This novel contains multiple themes beginning with the analogy between teaching geese to fly and gain independence and teenagers struggling to learn essential life skills required to become independent adults. Other themes encompass Ellen’s need to be involved in saving humans in Africa, while leaving her own family to fend for themselves; obesity as a disability; first loves; cancer; innate tendency towards violence in some humans; and the war against industrial development in rural townships. The smooth incorporation of these themes in the narrative clearly highlights the authors’ literary talents. Gliding Flight is an enjoyable read with captivating characters, well-paced plot, and the right amount of tension to keep the pages turning. Highly recommended. Ana McGinley  More >



Amsterdamian

Amsterdamian

I try to create a relationship with this mysterious city. I love it and can’t get enough of it. 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 >



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 >


24 Oranges

24 Oranges

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




Amsterdamming

Amsterdamming

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



Holland Flowering

Holland Flowering – How the Dutch Flower Industry Conquered the World is a new book by Andrew Gebhardt and published by Amsterdam University Press (2014). As the title suggests, the book focuses on the Dutch flower industry, specifically FloraHolland, and the influence the industry has had both locally and internationally. Andrew Gebhardt is an American writer based in Amsterdam. With an obvious deep fascination for the flower industry, Gebhardt tackles the subject matter from all angles: including the anthropology of cut flowers, the early beginnings of the Dutch flower horticulture business and its growth into an international flower-selling business, and the effects on other countries and cultures resulting from the globalisation of the Dutch flower industry. FloraHolland Primarily, this book is centred on FloraHolland and its Aalsmeer-based auction house. Integral to this research are the author's interviews with numerous staff members at all levels of this organisation. While the facts and figures present a dry description of the organisation, quotes from these interviews permit an insider’s view into the working environment of FloraHolland. One interviewee describes the industry as: 'Not only white and male and all that: there are a lot of religious people, too. There’s a bedrijfsgebed, a company prayer, along with daily news items, that appears in people’s inboxes.' (p255) Nasty Weeds From a wider perspective, the book investigates flower plantations in Africa and South America which are also reliant on FloraHolland to sell their produce. These plantations are often Dutch-owned - and sometimes staffed by locals paid less than the daily minimum wage to work in harsh conditions. It reeks a little of former Dutch colonialism. Other unsavory topics involve market competition seemingly controlled by Dutch airlines increasing freight costs for growers outside the Netherlands, or Schiphol refusing landing rights to airlines offering cheaper freight to these growers. Tying together the ends Holland Flowering is a difficult book to categorise, being a mix of history, interviews and social commentary. The introduction is a long ramble covering 45 pages and giving little clue to what argument the author is going to follow in the ensuing pages. A lack of headings and paragraphs often results in the reader becoming lost in the text. Distracting, albeit extremely interesting subjects like sodomy on board VOC ships (p258), further detract the flow of the text and the reader's understanding of the central subject matter. Yet undoubtedly, flowers continue to bring beauty into the lives of many people. Birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and dinner invitations are marked with the giving of flowers, so guaranteeing the continued longevity of the flower industry. Reading Holland Flowering offers an insight into the industry that drives these flower-giving traditions. Buy this book  Ana McGinley  More >


Dutch Delight

Learn what they eat and drink, graze through their eating habits and recipes, and when you're done, try them. Enjoy Dutch delights like haring (herring), snert (pea soup), stamppot (mashed potatoes and kale) and pannenkoeken (pancakes). Sample a typical Dutch breakfast or dessert. Taste famous Dutch sweets like drop (liquorice) or biscuits such as stroopwafels (thin treacle waffles). And finish up with a golden beer or a shot of jenever (Dutch gin). Easy to digest and with more than 25 recipes and over 300 pictures, this book forms a thorough introduction to the Dutch kitchen, whether or not you are a fan of raw herring and onions. Buy this book  More >


I am Amsterdam

The ones who would like to have a daily confirmation that Amsterdam is beautiful should loyally follow the weblog of the photographer Thomas Schlijper. He posts a new photo of the every-day Amsterdam: of a window washer on an insanely high ladder, of a homeless person with a flower pot on his head, of the canals in the evening light, of a comical traffic situation or simply of nice people. The light is especially extraordinary in his photos. He manages to catch an enchanting lighting in the centre of Amsterdam. Buy this book    More >


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 >


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 >


Dutch Cooking: The New Kitchen

If the idea of authentic Dutch cuisine fills you with horror, then you're not alone. Even the authors of The New Kitchen admit that, 'Dutch cooking does not, to say the least, have a very good international reputation.' Amsterdam based writers Manon Sikkel and Michiel Klonhammer have penned numerous articles about their passion for traditional food and have enthusiastically updated some authentically rustic dishes in Dutch Cooking: The New Kitchen. You could be forgiven for thinking that there is little appeal in modernizing recipes that include culinary gems like cheese soup or salsifies with sour cream, but there's lots about this cheery and self-deprecating little book that makes you want try them out, like the bizarre but surprisingly tasty, eel and asparagus soup or the hash, made from stewed steak (with herbs, onions and juniper berries). If you ate this kind of food every day then watch out! You might just find your left ventricle slamming shut. It's what you might call wholesome, stodgy fodder: very short on sophistication but full of flavour. Generations of Dutch peasants toiled the polders nourished on this kind of fuel and it certainly hasn't stunted the nation's growth, so what is there to criticise? Well quite a bit actually, such as the bacon pancakes with avocado mousse, which according to my husband, won't even tempt a famished fox. As well as nearly all of the vegetable dishes, and specifically the sprout puree which looks like it's passed through the digestive tract of a cat. But thankfully almost every pudding was scrumptious and my three-year-old thought the strawberry fool and apple pie were 'Lishus'. It was only the prunes and curd that let the side down and looked revolting despite whatever nutritional benefits it may have boasted in days of olde... Dutch Cooking: The New Kitchen, has been lovingly produced in homage to old-fashioned Dutch cuisine and it successfully manages to inject some fun into a stale national pastime with this funky mix of traditional hearty fare. All the recipes are simple, cheap and easy to prepare which makes it an ideal cookery book for youngsters, or anyone who fancies trying out an eclectic menu on friends. But if you really are planning a 'Dutch' dinner party, and before you fill the trough, just make sure you choose the courses wisely, and more importantly, keep a defibrillator handy. Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >


Bicycle Mania

The title and cover picture promise an eccentric and lighthearted peek into the Dutch love affair with all things on two wheels. What you get is a chunky little picture book with some nice photos and a few pages of bicycle facts and trivia. If you've ever wanted to know how many bicycles there are in Holland (approximately 18 million), or that there are 29,000 kilometers of cycle paths throughout the country, then this might titillate. And if you're curious to know the reasons why cycling is predominant in the Netherlands (all seven of them), you're likely to enjoy thumbing through this. But beyond the stats (and there are oodles of boring ones) and comparisons between cycling policies both here and abroad, there's not much to hold the reader's attention unless you're a hard-core cycling fanatic, and even then it might be a little too pedestrian. It is however good to look at and I sometimes found myself wondering what pretty part of Holland I was looking at, and wishing the author had referenced the photos with their locations. It's the kind of book you might take off someone else's bookshelf to flick through and it certainly has charm, but probably not to a native, or a long-term expat who sees it all for real on a daily basis. Nevertheless, if you fancy a quaint addition to your novelty reading collection then this has appeal. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  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 >


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 >


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 >