The Low Countries

Deze Engelstalige blog, gelinkt aan het jaarboek The Low Countries, brengt nieuws over taal, cultuur en maatschappij in de Lage Landen voor een breed buitenlands publiek.

  • 9 mei 2008

One Stone, Three Birds : Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for Paul Verhaeghen

‘A dazzling exploration of the ideas and experiences at the roots of modern life’: that’s how The Independent billed Paul Verhaeghen’s Omega Minor in its shortlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize earlier this year. Now the Flemish author’s 700-page novel about cognitive psychology, quantum physics, Nazis, Neo-Nazis, stormtroopers and scientists has been awarded said Prize. And a fine Prize it is: 13,500 euros, to be divided between author and translator. …

  • 30 april 2008

From the Low Countries, with Tender Loving Care: TLC no. 16

April 22, 2008 saw the appearance of our sixteenth yearbook The Low Countries. Arts and Society in Flanders and the Netherlands. This edition brings together a number of articles under the title ‘Lust and Love and Low Adventures’. This year we are giving you love. In every shape and form. From courtly love to love for animals. From Plato to porn. From the idyll to the WasteLand. From refined and circuitous to crude and down-to-earth. Famous loves from the past will…

  • 30 april 2008

Virtuosity is the Limit: Leine & Roebana on Tour in the US

With the Dutch choreographer couple Andrea Leine and Harijono Roebana the sky may not be the limit, but virtuosity definitely is. As was noted in Carnet: ‘Leine & Roebana keep pushing their dancers to the limits, to the point where control and perfection could easily turn into chaos and failure.’ Dutch dance critic Isabella Lanz remarked in the yearbook The Low Countries (and also in Contemporary Dance in the Low Countries) that music is both their basis and their …

  • 5 maart 2008

Maria Sybilla Merian: Art, Science and Business

The Euro is standing strong, the US dollar is…ummm...well…let’s just say you need quite a fistful of dollars to acquire only a few Euros. It’s a brave new world indeed. So in with the new and out with the old. Like at the start of 2002, when they all fell like flies: the old trusted Belgian Franc, the stylishly designed Dutch Guilder notes, the sturdy Deutschmark and so many other currencies we all got brief flashes from during our travels through Europe. But with …

  • 4 maart 2008

Piet Blom and the Village in the City

In his essays on building Sir Francis Bacon noted that ‘houses are built to live in, not to look on’. But some buildings are not just dwellings. They become landmarks in time. Such is the case with Piet Blom’s Cube Houses in Rotterdam. Anyone entering this city by train has seen them: they sit beside the Blaak Subway Station, cubes tilted at 45 degrees and rested upon a hexagon-shaped pylon. There are 32 of them altogether, all attached to each other. As residents …

  • 15 februari 2008

Budapest goes LOW

LOW is the name of a Flemish-Netherlands cultural festival that starts today and runs until mid March. The place to be is Budapest, Hungary, where there will be a festive opening night attended by Frans Timmermans, the Dutch State Secretary for European Affairs, and Geert Bourgeois, Flemish Minister of Foreign Affairs. The basic aim of the festival is to introduce contemporary Dutch/Flemish culture to the Hungarian public, and to enhance, support and deepen artisti…

  • 16 januari 2008

Meanwhile... back in Rotterdam: architecture and film

010 publishers has been at it for over 20 years. The Rotterdam publishing house, which takes its name from the local area code, has released over five hundred books on architecture and design during those two decades. It first earned international acclaim in 1986 with the Guide to Modern Architecture in the Netherlands. In 1994, 010 Publishers was the first overseas enterprise to be named 'Publisher of the Year' by the American Institute of Architects. It’s not jus…

  • 16 januari 2008

Brussels calling

Newsflash! Not just in, but still quite fresh and slightly hot. Last week the News Service of the Flemish Radio and Televison (VRT) launched its new website. Not just a revamped version of the old trusty place, but a true surfers’ delight with weblogs, plenty of videos, RSS and updates galore for news junkies. The English-language section of the new site makes local news available to the global community: from the Smurfs celebrating their 50th anniversary to the sw…

  • 16 januari 2008

Geert Mak and the rewards of small history

Let’s talk about Europe, those United States of Babel. British comedian Eddie Izzard once said: ‘I grew up in Europe, where history comes from.’ All witticisms aside, he does have a point when we’re talking about the preoccupation with history. Take Geert Mak, for instance, one of the most popular writers in the Netherlands and the author of numerous bestselling books of non-fiction. History and a keen sense of that history are part and parcel of all his books. Cha…

  • 16 januari 2008

There is a house in New Orleans: MVRDV helps to Make It Right

Brad Pitt doesn’t have a house in Amsterdam. A while ago the rumour was being spread that he and Angelina Jolie were going to buy one of those stately houses that line the canals of the Dutch capital. There were even pictures of them standing in an Amsterdam window, but that was a practical joke by the people from Amsterdam’s Madame Tussaud’s: they put the wax effigies of the couple there for a few hours. But there is a house in New Orleans which is Brad Pitt’s. An…