New Roads to Paradise

In Praise of Hans Boland In search of the most beautiful untranslated book from Dutch literature I am re-reading the novel De zachte held (The Tender Hero) by my colleague-translator Hans Boland, published in 2014, favourably reviewed in the newspapers, but subsequently relegated to the background until Boland was heard from again in early 2015…

Back to the Netherlands

It’s not that I haven’t been back to the Netherlands, and it’s not even that I haven’t been back for a longer period of time; but my stay at the Translators’ House, in January and February of 1993, was somehow so concentrated a time, so much an opportunity to be Dutch, so much an occasion…

A Book Full of Longing

Tommy Wieringa and Joe Speedboat Inspector Morse’s first name was Endeavour, but that was kept a secret until the end of the last instalment. Just as embarrassing, especially to its bearer, but also to the narrator of Tommy Wieringa’s novel Joe Speedboat (2005), is Joe Speedboat’s real name: Ratzinger (and this before the present Pope…

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

An Extract from Tommy Wieringa’s The Dynamics of Desire In his reportage A Rough Trade the British writer Martin Amis investigates the porn industry on the American West Coast. For producer and former actor John Stagliano he has really only one question: ‘How do you account for the emphasis, not just in your … work…

Fucking

An Extract from Beatrijs Ritsema’s To Heart Better than cuddling. Why? Because it is more exclusive. Cuddling you do with children, with soft toys, with intimates (that is, if you are the cuddling type and wouldn’t rather stick to verbal communication with your close friends and family). Fucking, however, you do with your lover and…

Rack

You’re ironing. With your foot turned, planted inward, you seem contemplative. The instant that you threaten me, nose, lip go up. They bare a set of teeth. Your head turns red and you besprinkle royally the suit that I was in. Your hottest innerside steams down on me. It is a rack that board, you…

Waal River

In morning haze, cut by the jetties into soft white boxes, that lift themselves reluctantly from the dark water, I came here when the night had passed. Old hurt I felt as new and without wanting it. Already a faint glimmer glows above the river, the sandy bends light up, turn gray again below the…

Respect for the Mystery

The Works of Willem Jan Otten In December 1999 Willem Jan Otten (1951-) received the Constantijn Huygens Prize, the prestigious Dutch literary award given for an entire oeuvre. The author was 48 years old at the time, which made him the youngest winner in the history of the prize. In spite of this relatively young…

A Poor, Inspired and Melancholy Poet

Willem Bilderdijk, a Calvinist Celebrity On December 18, 1831, the Dutch poet Willem Bilderdijk (1756-1831) drew his last breath. This brought to an end the life of one of the most colourful, influential and versatile figures of the early nineteenth century in the Netherlands. Bilderdijk didn’t just write poetry, he was also a jurist, linguist…