High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands


High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

12 10 19

New Dutch Writing: a Day of Discussion


The British Library

96 Euston Road


12 October 2019

More info

The campaign ‘New Dutch Writing’ highlights the best contemporary literature from the Netherlands. On Saturday 12 October, an extensive and ambitious programme on Dutch culture and literature will take place at the British Library in London.

Headlined by Simon Schama, the day features Costa Book Award winner Bart van Es, newly translated authors Esther Gerritsen and Jeroen Olyslaegers, and Herman Koch, bestselling author of The Dinner.

Long famed as a model of tolerance and diplomacy, what’s the Netherlands really like? Explore this question in the company of its authors and get books signed after the sessions.


11.05am – 12.15pm Opening panel: Joris Luyendijk and Naema Tahir

Dutch society has long been held up as a model of political and social tolerance, but is this the real story? Writer and journalist Joris Luyendijk wrote a first-hand account of the Dutch parliament You didn’t hear it from me, but… and has reported on politics and conflict from across the Middle East. He recently returned to the Netherlands after 10 years in London, citing Brexit as the reason. Naema Tahir is a writer and human rights lawyer, focusing on the rights of immigrant women and is the author of The Solitude of the Present, a novel on immigration through the eyes of a child in London.

12.35pm – 1.45pm Esther Gerritsen and Herman Koch

Esther Gerritsen is a novelist and playwright who skewers contemporary life with her acerbic characters and dark themes – Roxy, the anti-heroine of her latest novel, is grieving for a dead husband, escaping on a road trip which strains the loyalty of her friends and family. Herman Koch is the bestselling author of The Dinner, and in his latest novel The Ditch, the mayor of Amsterdam, Robert Walter is consumed by jealousy as he suspects his wife of having an affair. Koch holds up a mirror to bourgeouis society and shatters its image. The authors discuss their dark characters and view of society with chair Suzi Feay.

2.45pm – 3.45pm Bart van Es and Jeroen Olyslaegers

The history of war and occupation weighs heavily on the streets of Dutch and Flemish cities. Through biography and fiction, Bart van Es and Jeroen Olyslaegers have different ways to evoke the occupation, using family and

communal histories to shape the stories. Bart van Es’ The Cut Out Girl won the Costa Book of the Year award through its telling the story of Little Lien and her hiding from the Nazis in occupied Amsterdam. Jeroen Olyslaegers’ novel Will is a morally complex novel set in Antwerp amidst the streets where the author himself lives.

4pm – 5.15pm Simon Schama

Simon Schama made his name as a historian of the Dutch Golden Age, and his love affair with the nation and its artistic culture has only deepened over time. He published Rembrandt’s Eyes in 1999 and his latest collection of essays, Wordy, steps forward through the centuries covering Piet Mondrian and the De Stijl movement, up to the rebirth of the Rijksmuseum, the ultimate repository of the nations cultural riches. In this keynote talk he discusses Dutch culture and his personal affection for its artists.

Presented by the Dutch Foundation for Literature in association with Modern Culture

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