The Low Countries

This English-language blog, which is linked to the yearbook, The Low Countries, offers news about language, culture and society in the Low Countries for a broad foreign public.

  • 27 February 2015

My father who is no ‘guest worker’ anymore

My father who is no ‘guest worker’ anymore

"How do we get a more white and middle-aged, privileged audience through our doors?" is not a question that keeps many theatre managers busy in the Netherlands. But it may be relevant for the sold-out showof Mijn vader, de expat & Oumi (My Father, the Expat & Oumi) in Theatre Carré, Amsterdam, on 22 February. The audience is young and mostly from a migrant background. Plenty of lipgloss and fancy jumpsuits; many Moroccan mothers and daughters, with and without headscarves. When the light dims, I notice hundreds of iPhones light up, whats-apps and selfies being shared.

  • 13 February 2015

Gerard Reve’s Dutch classic novel 'De Avonden' to be published in English at last

Gerard Reve’s Dutch classic novel 'De Avonden' to be published in English at last

De Avonden (‘The Evenings’) by Gerard Reve is to appear next year in an English edition translated by Sam Garrett and published by Pushkin Press. This Dutch literary classic was first published in 1947 by De Bezige Bij. In 2016 it will be ten years since the author’s death.

In 2011, The Low Countries Yearbook published an article on Gerard Reve's English connection. Gerard Reve felt frustrated after his successful debut novel De Avonden. The book sold well but did not produce sufficient income for a decent living. He therefore turned to writing in English. Eventually he realised that his English was not ‘rich' enough. His love for the ‘warm-hearted' English remained.

  • 10 February 2015

BesteBuren: A Yearlong Celebration of Dutch-Flemish Cultural Relationships

BesteBuren: A Yearlong Celebration of Dutch-Flemish Cultural Relationships

On 8 February the Beste Buren-fest (‘Best of neighbours’) kicked off in Rotterdam: a celebration of cultural relationships between Flanders and the Netherlands. The yearlong programme will end on Valentine’s Day 2016 – giving the expression ‘love thy neighbour’ a whole new meaning. Stefanie van Gemert picks her three favourites from the events programme.

  • 29 January 2015

Introducing Poetry – On Tour with Piet Gerbrandy and Sasja Janssen

Introducing Poetry – On Tour with Piet Gerbrandy and Sasja Janssen

The Dutch Poetry Week 2015 begins today, on 29 January, and runs until 4 February. This year’s theme ‘Love’ suggests that all passion has some poetry to it. And vice versa. On 22 January Stefanie van Gemert saw and heard passionate poets on tour in Utrecht. In this blog she discusses the two VSB Poetry Prize-nominees present.

  • 14 January 2015

The Grandeur of Antwerp Central Railway Station

The Grandeur of Antwerp Central Railway Station

"Le vrai bonheur, ce n’est que dans les gares", said French writer Anatole France, but where can you still find romantic stations these days?

Antwerp Central can henceforth call itself Europe’s most romantic station. According to booking site Hotels.com the building has the perfect decor for saying goodbye.

  • 5 January 2015

Artful Ageing: Turner and Rembrandt’s Late Works at Tate Britain and the National Gallery

Artful Ageing: Turner and Rembrandt’s Late Works at Tate Britain and the National Gallery

Until 18 january Rembrandt – The Late Works at the National Gallery runs alongside the Late Turner exhibition at Tate Britain. Stefanie van Gemert took a short bus ride from Pimlico to Trafalgar Square and visited the two ‘blockbuster’ exhibitions in London. She reflects on how two national museums – three, including the Dutch Rijksmuseum – display works of the cultural icons Rembrandt and Turner. What do these exhibitions define as ‘ageing’ or ‘late works’?

  • 4 December 2014

Looking back on 'I died in hell – (They called it Passchendaele)'

Looking back on 'I died in hell – (They called it Passchendaele)'

In this blog post we look back on ‘I died in hell – (They called it Passchendaele)’, a multimedia and multilingual performance organised by Ons Erfdeel vzw, with the support of deBuren, on the 4th of November in Bloomsbury Theatre, London. I Died in Hell aimed to bring war poetry to life and reveal new European perspectives on World War one.

  • 4 December 2014

Berlinde De Bruyckere at Hauser & Wirth’s London Gallery

Berlinde De Bruyckere at Hauser & Wirth’s London Gallery

Belgian artist Berlinde De Bruyckere (born in 1964, Ghent) is everywhere this year. In addition to her recently published monograph and overview exhibition in Ghent’s S.M.A.K. (Belgium), soon to appear at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (Netherlands) and Kunsthaus Bregenz (Austria), new work of hers can be viewed at Hauser & Wirth’s London gallery until 10th January 2015.