The Flemish minister-president Kris Peeters was in London last weekend for the official inauguration of the Flanders Field Memorial Garden. Designed by Bruges landscape architect Piet Blanckaert, the garden contains 70 sandbags of soil gathered from First World War military cemeteries in Belgium. At the ceremony, Peeters said the garden “symbolised the coming home of the sons of Great Britain who did not return from Flanders Fields”. He added that the Flemish government is now in talks with UNESCO to have the Western Front battlefields and war cemeteries recognised as a World Heritage Site by 2016.
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.
Dutch bestselling writer Herman Koch is one of six Dutch authors who have been invited to talk at the Moscow Book Fair later this week. Koch’s novel The Dinner raced to the top of the Russian bestselling lists after it was translated into Russian. The 2014 issue of The Low Countries Yearbook will feature an article on Koch's entire work. The Book Fair has also invited the well-known Dutch historian Geert Mak, brain scientist Dick Swaab (both were discussed in the yearbook) and Diaghilev biographer Sjeng Scheijen.
The Dutch writer Gerrit Krol has died at the age of 79. In his books, he wrote about Groningen, his father and Shell, but also about his sexual obsessions. His books were praised for combining literature and science in a unique experimental style.
The short film Death of a Shadow (Dood van een schaduw) by Flemish director Tom Van Avermaet has won the prestigious Silver Méliès prize at the Leeds International Film Festival. Van Avermaet dedicated the prize to set photographer Wouter Lismont who was killed last week in a car crash.
Dutch writer Tonke Dragt’s The Letter for the King has received rave reviews following its publication in an English translation by Laura Watkinson. Set in the Middle Ages, the book was described in The Guardian as “a grown-up version of the 'classic' children's books” such as Swallows and Amazons, Black Beauty and The Hobbit.
A&E Studios is said to be developing a US version of the successful Flemish TV series Clan, according to Variety magazine. A co-production between A&E Studios and eOne, Clan focuses on five sisters known as the Murphy girls who swear a pact to protect one another from harm.
A new book has just been published that looks at different dialects of Dutch spoken in the Netherlands and Flanders. The third in a series on dialects, Language and Space: An International Handbook of Linguistic Variation, Volume III: Dutch was edited by Frans Hinskens of the Meertens Instituut and Johan Taeldeman of Ghent University.
The Flemish writer and journalist Thomas Blondeau has died unexpectedly at the age of 35. As well as publishing three novels, he wrote for the newspapers De Morgen, De Standaard, NRC Handelsblad and the magazine Psychologies.
Last summer, Jeroen Dewulf, professor of Dutch Studies at the University of California in Berkeley, accompanied a group of students on a five week tour through the Low Countries. One student, Anna Carey, wrote about what she saw in places like Amsterdam, Utrecht, Leiden, Bruges, Antwerp, Ghent and Lille. You can read her impressions in this blog post.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was one of many Belgian and European leaders who travelled to Ghent last Saturday (October 19) to attend the state funeral of former Belgian prime minister Wilfried Martens.