The Anatomy Lesson

The Anatomy Lesson

In 1632 serial thief, Adriaen Adriaenszoon (known as Aris Kindt), was sentenced to death by hanging in Amsterdam. The Anatomy Lesson is based on the events that take place on the day of his death and dissection as depicted in Rembrandt'Ž“s famous painting, Ž•The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes TulpŽ“, an artwork commissioned by the Amsterdam Surgeons' Guild. This second novel from American writer, Nina Siegal, is contrived from historical records and coloured by prose. The narrative chronicles Kindt_Ž“s life, the lives of the individuals laying claim to the dead man_Ž“s body: Dr Tulp (the anatomist) Flora (the woman pregnant with his child) Rembrandt (artist) Jan Fetchet (curio collector and acquirer of medical cadavers) and Kindt himself (both alive and dead). Siegal has obviously spent copious time researching the subject matter. This historic authenticity of The Anatomy Lesson makes it easy for the reader to conjure up the people, places and events described in the narrative. Her descriptions of the cold, greyness of the Dutch winter are commendable. The tale rumbles gently along. At times it reads more as a play than a novel. Characters enter the stage and present a short monologue before exiting. The audience enjoy the performance, while anticipating the moment when the denouement reels the characters and story together into a satisfying conclusion. Needless the say, no more can be added without giving away the end of the book. Some readers may feel that the author's concentration on detail is pedantic and slows the flow of the narrative and the pace is slowed by the adoption of numerous characters narrating the story. Chapter headings give no clue to the identity of the narrator, leaving it to the reader to deduce from whose perspective the story is being told. Adding to this, sometimes confusing, mix is the occasional interruption by a present-day conservator employed to restore the painting (notably easier to identify due to a change in font). This literary style demands full reader concentration. Despite these niggles, The Anatomy Lesson is an enjoyable read. It provides the reader with an historical insight into a specific time period in the Netherlands, and an interpretation of the background story behind one of the most renowned paintings of the Golden Age, which now hangs at Mauritshuis in The Hague. Buy this book Ana McGinley  More >




Amsterdive

Amsterdive

Amsterdam based actress invites you to dive with her into the cultural life of the city. More >


I love Noord

I love Noord

North Amsterdam is described as the Brooklyn of the Dutch capital. If you want to know why, read this blog. More >





Amsterdam Foodie

Amsterdam Foodie

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Invading Holland

Invading Holland

The adventures of an accident-prone English man who arrived in the Netherlands in 2001 for a six month stay. More >



European Mama

European Mama

A blog by a Polish mother living in the Netherlands with her German husband and two daughters. More >



The House of Dolls

British author David Hewson is better known for writing two novels based on the hit Danish television show, The Killing, but this time, he'Ž“s in Amsterdam, with his new novel, The House of Dolls, which will be part of a series. The book follows a retired police detective who is brought back to work after the purported kidnapping of a young woman under circumstances similar to those of his own daughterŽ“s three years before. Like Hewson'Ž“s other work, The House of Dolls is a dark thriller that follows the flow of the city it's set in. The protagonist, Pieter Vos, is pulled back into the underworld of Amsterdam'Ž“s organised crime in the hope that he can offer some insight into the possible kidnapping of Katja Prins, the daughter of a local politician. He'Ž“s partnered with Laura Bakker, a junior detective whose Frisian accent and small-town upbringing don'Ž“t mesh with the hardened Amsterdam police force. Vos agrees to help the case, in the hopes that solving it will lead him to his own missing daughter. The novel vividly describes Amsterdam, both in appearance and in feel and it'Ž“s easy to get lost in the city'Ž“s seedy underworld. In all, a great holiday read. Buy this book by David Hewson  More >


Craving (Dorst)

Esther Gerritsen is an award winning author, playwright and columnist. Her acclaimed 2012 novel, Dorst, nominated for the prestigious Libris Literature Prize, Dioraphte Literary Award and Opzij Prize has been translated from its original Dutch and is now available under the English title Craving. Craving is about the interpersonal relationships that connect a dysfunctional family. The narrative revolves around Elisabeth and her daughter, Coco, who are reunited in domesticity by Elisabeth’s terminal illness and the end of Coco’s rental agreement. Awkward people The story opens with Elisabeth and Coco inadvertently seeing one another on opposing sides of the Overtoom in Amsterdam. Elisabeth takes the opportunity to clumsily reveal to her daughter some devastating news that she has been withholding from her family. After asking about Coco’s hair (to conceal her thought about Elisabeth’s weight gain), she reveals a bag of medications, blurts out that she is dying, and quickly departs the scene as Coco cycles away. Elisabeth is an awkward communicator. Her ex-husband suggests that her communication and relationship struggles are due to autism. Regardless of cause, Elisabeth’s prior conduct, especially during her daughter’s early childhood, resurface in her final days as Coco seeks explanations from her mother to settle her own disconcerting childhood memories. For a young woman, Coco is a calamity. She lacks the direction and decision-making skills required to attain life satisfaction. Her romantic relationship, with pseudo-father figure Hans, is coming to an end, throwing Coco into a negative spiral of attention seeking conduct fueled by alcohol and sex with strangers in pubic places. Additional characters include Wilbert (Elisabeth’s ex-husband), Miriam (married to Wilbert), Martin (Elisabeth’s employer and close friend), and Elisabeth’s hairdresser. Together these four characters give dimension to Elisabeth’s persona. While Wilbert and Miriam treat her as a damaged woman able to living independently yet incapable of parenting a child, Martin praises Elisabeth and is resolute in his support for her. The hairdresser maintains non-judgmental respect for his client and teeters on as a friend to Elisabeth. Appeal Craving is indubitably a Dutch novel but the narrative has universal appeal.  A central character dying of cancer is a common thread found in Dutch literature and film - especially compared to books and films from America or Britain. This may be connected to the ease the Dutch have in speaking about death, compared with English speaking cultures. Reliant on verbal exchanges and flashbacks, Craving is a tale of psychological tension tinged with black humor. The succinct dialogue is clever and easily conveys the discord between characters to the reader - a major feat achieved by both the author and translator. Highly recommended. Ana McGinley Buy this book  More >


New Explorers Guide to Dutch Digital Culture

The New Explorers Guide to Dutch Digital Culture is a combination phonebook and wiki for all things digital art and culture in the Netherlands. Virtueel Platform, a Dutch e-culture knowledge institute, has put together this comprehensive guide to the companies, institutes, and other organisations involved in the digital art and culture industry. Organised into three sections (Media Labs, Game Companies, and Media Festivals) the book compiles all the relevant information (contact details, dates, scope of work) into a hand guide. The index is especially useful for those in the creative community, which lists all of the companies and organisations by name, location, and industry. The book is visually appealing, using photos of many digital art projects to showcase the work of an organisation. The editors have also created some handy shortcuts, listing information such as the event date, likely users, and keywords associated with each group. Unfortunately, however, the text contains number of grammatical errors which can distract the reader from the content. As someone in the digital industry, I found the book useful and may even attend a few of the conferences mentioned. The book was funded, in part, by the foreign affairs ministry. Download this book Molly Quell www.mollyquell.com  More >


Gliding Flight

Anne-Gine Goemans is a journalist and teacher of journalism to college students in Utrecht. Her career as a novelist began in 2008 with the publication of Ziekzoekers (Unfurrowed Ground), a book that grabbed the public’s attention when awarded the Anton Wachterprijs for best debut novel. Four years later, Goemans second novel Glijvlucht won the Dioraphte Youth Literature Prize and the German M. Pionier Award for new literary talent. The film rights were sold and the book added to the curriculum in some Dutch secondary schools.  In 2015 Glijvlucht was translated into English by Nancy Forest-Flier for World Editions and published under the title Gliding Flight. Cutting to the goose chase Gliding Flight is the story of 14-year-old Gieles who lives with his father and uncle in an isolated area along a runway, a landing strip for the local airport. This setting is instrumental to the narrative – uniting the supporting characters by being a source of constant tension to the unfolding storyline. The story opens with Gieles seeking advice on the best method to teach his two geese how to fly. He does this secretly as his father is responsible for ensuring that geese and other birds do not become a hazard to planes by venturing too close to the runway. Hence, Gieles would have his geese confiscated should his father discover that they were able to fly. Further Gieles is an avid fan of ornithologist Christian Moullec and pilot captain Scully who successfully landed his plane after geese had damaged the engines. Additional characters include Gieles’ mother Ellen who is on a mission to help people in Africa; Super Waling, an obese ex-history teacher, whose own family history tells the Dutch story of human hardship as men worked to reclaim land by building polders; Mieke, the gothic girl Gieles initially meets on the internet before leaving her family to live with Gieles and his family; Tony, the sadistic school friend; and Dolly, young widow, single parent, beautician and critic of everything. Flying in formation This novel contains multiple themes beginning with the analogy between teaching geese to fly and gain independence and teenagers struggling to learn essential life skills required to become independent adults. Other themes encompass Ellen’s need to be involved in saving humans in Africa, while leaving her own family to fend for themselves; obesity as a disability; first loves; cancer; innate tendency towards violence in some humans; and the war against industrial development in rural townships. The smooth incorporation of these themes in the narrative clearly highlights the authors’ literary talents. Gliding Flight is an enjoyable read with captivating characters, well-paced plot, and the right amount of tension to keep the pages turning. Highly recommended. Ana McGinley  More >


At Home in Holland

A practical guide for all new arrivals, At Home in Holland has been published since 1963 by the American Women's Club of The Hague, a non-profit organization and registered Dutch charity. website  More >


How to Avoid the Other Tourists in Amsterdam

As anyone who has ever arrived in Amsterdam early on a Friday evening in the summer knows, the city is full of tourists. Some nights, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who lives in the city on the walk from your train to Dam Square. Nina van der Weiden, author of How to Avoid the Other Tourists in Amsterdam, wanted to highlight all of the places away from that crush of tourists and offer something with more local flavour. Her book takes you through five sections of Amsterdam: West, South, East, North and Centre. Each section gets its own chapter, subdivided into neighbourhoods. All of the chapters include a suggested walking route (or, in the case of North, cycling). The book highlights restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, museums and more which the author finds to be less touristy and more Dutch and are described on the book's website as 'the funniest, most beautiful, striking, exclusive or most ordinary' of the city’s restaurants, etc. They range from locations in every guide book (The EYE, Westerkerk) to the obscure (The Plague House in West and a soup restaurant in North.) There are also lots of bits about history and culture in the introductions to each chapter. As an off-the-beaten-path guidebook, it’s useful.If you have a lot of out-of-town guests, you might want to have a copy on hand. Even for locals, a number of the walks and relatively unknown restaurants are interesting. The material makes for some really great first date ideas. Unlike Lonely Planet or other travel books, its shape makes it difficult to carry as a guide book. It’s too wide to fit easily into your hands. Also, it spends a lot of text on walking directions, which, in the era of Google Maps, aren’t especially useful. It’s also clearly been written by a Dutch person and could have used a native English editor. Aside from its flaws, it is a curious and useful book. Grab a copy and when the weather is nice, follow the book’s Poets’ Walk which starts at the Cookie Bridge or have it on hand, along with a public transport smart card, for when your in-laws are visiting. Buy this book Molly Quell  More >


Amsterdam, a metropolitan village

Amsterdam, a city with grit that embraces you, a city with the appeal of a metropolis and the flair of a Dutch village. This is a gorgeous photo book of Amsterdam. Buy this book  More >


Logbook of the Low Countries

You could be forgiven for thinking this is probably not something you'd buy on impulse. After all, it sounds like the sort of dusty old title you might stumble across in a secondhand bookshop. But for any history buffs out there, don't stop reading just yet! Because Dutch economist and history connoisseur Wout van der Toorn, has poured his heart and soul into Logbook of the Low Countries, and appears to have compiled almost every single historical episode afflicting the Lowlands, and set it against major historical events that occurred in the rest of the world. Example: If you've ever wondered what else was going on in 1793 when the Southern Netherlands had once again been conquered by a pesky Austrian regime then I'm chuffed to enlighten you, that Dutch suppression commenced in the same year that Louis XVI and his ('Let them eat cake') Mrs, were being guillotined in Paris! Going back as far as 150,000 BC (when Northern Europe was still connected to Scandinavia by glacial ice apparently), it stomps along right up until 2010, with the election of Mark Rutte, the first Liberal Prime Minister of the Netherlands for nearly a century. Let's be honest about this, Logbook of the Low Countries will not appeal to everyone (although frankly, we could all learn quite a bit from the knowledge it imparts), but that doesn't mean it's not worth reading. This is a beautifully produced book in hard cover, illustrated with some lovely old maps, and full of historical facts that will certainly titillate anyone with an interest in history. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl www.shelleyantscherl.com  More >


Uit Kijk Punten/ Scenic Points Amsterdam

If you'Ž“ve ever stood on top of a building looking out over a big city and wondered what you can see in the distance then Uit Kijk Punten might tickle your fancy. Eelco van Geene and Marijke Mooy have created an alternative guide book that instead of leading you around the city at ground level, views Amsterdam from above and nicely presents it in photographs. Uit Kijk Punten shows panoramic shots of the Amsterdam skyline in every direction from 30 different vantage points around the city like Westerkerk, Centraal Station and even Schiphol Airport (!), and all the main landmarks and interesting sights are indicated on the horizon. Each photo is accompanied with practical information in Dutch and English, ensuring it appeals to residents and tourists alike and _Ž•Visitor info_Ž“ includes transport advice, entry costs, wheelchair access (or lack of it) and nearby refreshment outlets. An especially nice touch is the photography tip for amateur snappers on every page. At just over 200 pages and A5 size, Uit Kijk Punten is quite chunky, but it'Ž“s still small enough to fit in a rucksack and it makes a refreshing change to traditional fact-laden and touristy city guides. And if you enjoy photography, then this provides a new and unorthodox view of the capital. If you'Ž“ve lived here for years or you think you'Ž“ve seen everything in Amsterdam then Uit Kijk Punten offers a great opportunity to explore this wonderful little city from a whole new panoramic perspective. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >


How to be Dutch

A familiar face to many expats in the Netherlands, Greg Shapiro is an American comedian, writer, television presenter, vlogger and collector of Dutch peculiarities. As a resident of the Netherlands for over two decades, Shapiro has had ample opportunities to expand his collection of cultural idiosyncrasies, considered ‘normal’ by the Dutch and ‘absurd’ by everyone else. It is these cultural oddities that form the foundation for Shapiro’s professional life. How to Be Dutch, The Quiz is Shapiro’s latest book. It follows his 2014 book: How to be Orange: an Alternative Dutch Assimilation Course which tied in with the live show Shapiro was performing around the country at the time. His new book is written as a quiz loosely based on the Dutch assimilation or inburgering exam. The quiz contains multiple-choice questions arranged under topics including Dutch fashion, cuisine, stereotypes, and health care. Selecting the correct answer is often difficult because all options can seem ridiculous yet totally plausible. A good example is: While biking, you see a group of tourists edging toward the bike path ahead of you. When should you ring your bell? Ring as early and as often as possible Dutch bikes don’t have bells Wait until you are almost on top of them (pg21) Edgy at times as questions touch on such sacred cows as Zwarte Piet, slavery and racism, Shapiro provides readers with the arguments and relevant history needed to gain insight into the Dutch culture. He doesn’t shy away from complaining, appearing foolish, or exposing the nonsensical. His comparisons are influenced by his own American background, a familiar standpoint for non-Americans thanks to decades of television and films. How to Be Dutch: The Quiz is not an anti-Dutch book. Instead it is an amusing look at the country and culture many migrants have chosen to be part of, whether on a temporary or permanent basis. Recommended for anyone looking for a fun, easy read or wanting to assess their own assimilation into the Dutch culture. Ana McGinley (The correct answer is C)  More >