Its all Dutch to me

Last year I had some vague idea of tackling Dutch literature. Before this, my Dutch reading had been restricted to Dutch translations of English books, progressing from Harry Potter to travel tales and camera manuals and finally Alain Botton. I eventually abandoned the idea when I realised the same pile of books-waiting-to-be-read had been collecting dust for six months and ALL my reading time these days is being devoted to endless repetitions of “Gonnie en Gisje”, various Sesamstraat editions and “Rupsje Nooitgenoeg”.

I was recently rescued from this literary wilderness when someone asked me to read Saskia Noort’s “De Eetclub” and give them my opinion of it. Now I was hesitant to do this with ‘literary’ writing but a thriller seemed a straightforward enough genre and its amazing what a couple of nagging emails can do. Before I knew it I’d finished and enjoyed the book AND written a report!

Now they’ve asked if I would be happy to tackle some more literary works and never one to restrict my activities to my capabilities I’ve agreed. And I am curious about what happens when you read from a second language. For example, if I think of Tim Winton, so much of his writing depends on very specifically Australian experiences of landscape and place, how does someone from Europe pick up on all this? There is so much in literary works that aren’t written ‘literally’ into the text but written around it by the reader. It will be interesting to see what I make of Dutch literature. And how will Dutch words work on me?

Today a courier arrived with two books from Balans for me to read, Wim Kayzer’s “De waarnemer” and Maria Stahlie’s “Sint-Juttemis”. After checking out the back covers I’m looking forward to both of them but I must admit I practically fainted when I first saw “De waarnemer”! Its the size of “War and Peace”…but in Dutch! O je!

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