February 29, 2020

The Letter for the King gets the Netflix treatment

Filed under: Dutch first,Literature,Shows by Branko Collin @ 1:59 pm

On 20 March 2020, Netflix will start running its mini-series The Letter for the King based on the 1962 children’s book of the same name by Tonke Dragt.

Set in the middle ages, knight-in-training Tiuri is tasked by a stranger to deliver a letter to the king and save the world in the process. The adventure spans six episodes. Dragt wrote a sequel to her book, The Secrets of the Wild Wood, so who knows? If this series does well, they might commission another.

According to an interview with Dragt in Trouw last year, this is the first Dutch book that is being turned into an international series by Netflix. Dragt, now 89:

I immediately said no to a couple of [changes Netflix had planned]. No torture! They wanted to remove shield-bearer Piak from the story but I said: Piak stays. And they wanted to make Tiuri’s background more interesting, but I was against that—he is a regular boy. Children must be able to think: that could happen to me. Will I keep the promise [to deliver the letter]?

I had never heard of [Netflix]. So now I need to stay alive for a little while longer, until I have seen at least the first episode. Will it be good or disappointing? I will decide then if I will watch more of it.

Dragt’s stories often revolve around dualities, about finding that crack in the middle to slip through. Tiuri gets the tough choice: do I follow the formal steps that will get me knighted or do I throw that all away so that I can behave knightly?

In De Zevensprong, a so-called seven-way junction is the starting point for a mystery: there are only six roads. The book plays with the notion that a fork in the road is where a single road splits in two—or are they three roads meeting? The duality must be resolved to find the key to the mystery.

And Dragt’s The Towers of February posits that today, Leap Day, is the only time you can slip between realities.

See also: The Dutch like Dutch children’s literature the best

(Illustration: Netflix)

Tags: , , ,

January 8, 2020

Dutch book about ‘Depressing Destinations’ out in January

Filed under: Architecture,History,Literature by Orangemaster @ 1:44 pm

Publishing his second book roughly entitled ‘Depressing Destinations’ (‘Treurtrips’), journalist and photographer Mark van Wonderen decided to show the Dutch what a good chunk of their country really looks like.

“The Netherlands is a beautiful country that is neatly divided up. Ever square metre has been carefully arranged and countless zoning plans have been drawn up. When a place risks falling into disrepair, municipalities and project jump at the chance to fix the situation.”

Van Wonderen will show you half-abandoned malls, tacky buildings and lots of concrete in the wrong place: the dark side of quaint Dutch design is ‘treurnis’ (sad, gloomy and slowly falling apart). And he thinks it’s beautiful. In 2018, he wrote ‘Chin. Ind. Spec. Rest., a disappearing Dutch phenomenon’ about the last 1097 Chinese Indonesian restaurants in the country, the first four runs of which have completely sold out.

We’ll be at the launch!

(Photo of cover by Mark van Wonderen)


December 20, 2019

‘Boomer’ is Dutch Word of the Year

Filed under: General,Literature by Orangemaster @ 11:20 am

Dutch dictionary Van Dale has chosen ‘Boomer’ as the Dutch word of the year. Yes, it’s an English word the Dutch have appropriated (like oh so many) and has the same meaning as in English: someone, usually a senior citizen, with old fashioned or conservative views. It’s an abbreviation of ‘baby boomer’, a person born in the years following the World War II, when there was a temporary marked increase in the birth rate.

For the record, this means people born roughly between 1946 and 1964. I say this as 24oranges HQ was created by two folks of Generation X, (aka Gen X), the group after the baby boomers and preceding the Millennials, although Gen Y and Gen Z also get thrown in the mix when referring to younger generations.

The ‘OK Boomer’ meme and expression floating around didn’t go unnoticed in the Netherlands, a hugely anglophile country, but watch where you aim it. If you aim it at anyone older than you, you’ll look the fool once you need ‘our’ help in life, and you already do, which is often the reason for the meme in the first place.

Boomer, which received almost 42% of the votes, took off when a member of parliament in New Zealand targeted it at an older colleague when addressing climate change issues. It spread like wildfire afterwards. Other words – actual Dutch ones – were fashionable words such as ‘klimaatspijbelaar’ (‘skipping school for the climate’, aka someone playing hooky [American English] or playing truant ([British English]) and ‘klimaatdrammer’, a person constantly hammering on about climate change.

Last year’s winner was all about ‘Frisians blocking the motorway’.

(Link: waarmaarraar.nl)

Tags: , , ,

November 13, 2019

Stereotypes about women and migrants persist in Dutch schoolbooks

Filed under: General,History,Literature by Orangemaster @ 4:06 pm

After analysing 16 mathematics books and 17 Dutch-language textbooks used by secondary school students in their first year, Judi Mesman, a researcher from Leiden and her team concluded that they were full of stereotypes about women and people with an ethnic background. As you might expect, men were in greater numbers, depicted in real jobs like scientist and women were not as present and if so, often doing motherly things.

Let’s get into that one first. Is anybody surprised? Probably not, and it’s an easy fix for the future. It’s also easy to understand and prove that kids are sensitive to subtle messages about sex and stereotypes, shaping their world view. However, the truth is, Dutch society has tons of women working part-time – the highest level of part-time workers in Europe and beyond – and being the main carers of children and the elderly, earning less, and not making a serious enough appearance in the boardroom, let alone in other male-dominated jobs. Is it a stereotype or actual social commentary? And will depicting more equality change a system based on men working full-time and women working part-time, even without having children? I’m not optimistic, but feel free to try. Show men doing housework and being fathers instead of babysitting their own children, and show women doing real full-time jobs, not simply standing in as diversity hires.

As for what the Dutch call ‘non-Western migrants’, implying Turkish, Moroccan and the likes (funny enough including Mexicans, but not the Japanese IIRC – that’s a whole other discussion), they are underrepresented and shown in what we used to call ‘blue collar jobs’ as opposed to ‘white collar jobs’, to use classic stereotypes. Ask someone from Suriname in a good job how many times they’ve been mistaken for the cleaner. Sad but true, this is the reality in the Netherlands, which makes these images closer to reality, and I can imagine more painful than hopeful.

Good on the Dutch for wanting to create books with less stereotypes in them, but then there’s always wonderful authors like Sanne de Bakker who wrote a children’s book on Suriname conflating discrimination with facts or even a colouring book for children featuring Hitler that was casually sold at a Dutch drugstore chain.

Please teach children how to count, so that women can make an effort to be financially independent (still 60% are not) rather than rely on a partner, often a man, who might decide to show their maths skills by paring up with someone who is able and willing to be their equal.

(Links: dutchnews.nl, nos.nl)

Tags: , , ,

December 18, 2018

Frisians blocking the motorway Dutch Word of the Year 2018

Filed under: General,Literature by Orangemaster @ 2:40 pm

‘Blokkeerfries’ has won the Dutch Word of the Year 2018, followed by ‘yogasnuiver’ (‘yoga sniffer’) and ‘mangomoment’ (‘mango moment’) in third place.

‘Blokkerfries’ is described by Dutch dictionary Van Dale (a collaboration between the Dutch in the Netherlands and the Flemish in Belgium) as one of the people who blocked a motorway in [the Dutch province of] Friesland in order to stop others from demonstrating against an aspect of the Sinterklaas tradition, considered by some as a defender of it. You’ll notice they are not explicitly mentioning the now controversial ‘blackface’ aspect of Zwarte Piet, but that’s what was generally meant at the time.

A ‘yoga sniffer’ is someone that usually has a healthy lifestyle, but then once in a while goes overboard with party drugs and cocaine when they go out. For the advance class, if you do encounter the Dutch word ‘cultuursnuiver’ (‘culture sniffer’), it means someone who takes in culture, which is a positive thing.

‘Mangomoment’ refers to a Flemish television moment where a patient experienced a moment of happiness when the presenter of the show brought them a mango. Van Dale says it means a moment of happiness experienced by a seriously ill patient due to a seemingly insignificant, non-medical act or comment from a doctor or healthcare provider during normal healthcare activities.

(Link: nu.nl)

Tags: , , , , ,

December 17, 2018

Dutch Word of the Year 2018 vote almost done

Filed under: General,Literature by Orangemaster @ 4:07 pm

If you are so inclined, you have until 5 pm today to vote for the Dutch Word of the Year 2018 by following the link below. Tomorrow, the winners will be announced.

The Van Dale dictionary folks have 18 new words on the shortlist, and I’m going to attempt to explain a few of them that seem to be talked about the most, or at least that’s what I’ve been reading.

– Balanstrutje (‘Balance bitch’). One of those more well-to-do Dutch women preaching bullshit about balancing work and career (and self-care, and whatever else) purely to flog shit to other gullible women.

– Blokkeerfries (‘Blocking Frisian’). The name for Zwarte Piet defenders from Friesland who thought it was OK to illegally block a motorway to protest the change of ZP’s appearance because they felt it attacked their cultural identity.

– Primarkpremie (‘Primark premium’). Named after the Irish chain Primark, a ‘Primark premium’ is when Dutch -based companies receive subsidies for staff who earn no more than a quarter more than minimum wage.

That last one makes a lot of people’s stomach turn and could win, we’ll see.

(Link: woordvanhetjaar.vandale.nl)

Tags: , ,

December 13, 2018

Peet’s Coffee: from Alkmaar to California, by Jasper Houtman

Filed under: Comics,Food & Drink,Literature by Orangemaster @ 2:27 pm

You know how when you learn something new or you have a bit of a fixation about something and you start to see it everywhere? Well, I’ve been listening to podcasts by Nerdrotic, which besides being a fabulous replacement for radio and having nothing to do with 24oranges (it’s mainly about television shows and comics) occasionally plug Peet’s Coffee, which I assumed was just another American coffee company from California with an alternative hipster spelling for Pete.

Except it’s not: it’s originally Dutch (Dutch-American). Editor of Het Financieele Dagblad Jasper Houtman wrote a book this year about coffee legend and founder of Peet’s Coffee, Alfred Peet entitled The Coffee Visionary (In Dutch, ‘De man die de wereld leerde koffie drinken’, ‘The man who taught the world how to drink coffee’). Someone who’s not me really needs to update Peet’s Wikipedia page.

At a time when most Americans drank coffee percolated from canned grounds, the son of a coffee roaster from a small town in the Netherlands [Alkmaar] laid the foundation for specialty coffee in the United States. When Alfred Peet opened Peet’s Coffee, Tea & Spices in Berkeley, California in 1966, and started selling small batches of on-site, hand-roasted coffee beans, the renowned roastmaster had no way of knowing that he was brewing a coffee revolution and defining the coffee culture we know and love today.

Houtman is said to have twenty-five years of experience writing for magazines and newspapers in the Netherlands. Travelling through Guatemala and Honduras in 2004, he became interested in coffee, which led to a fascination for the story of Alfred Peet, who is relatively unknown in the Netherlands. Hope this helps a bit.

(Photo by Suzette Pauwels, some rights reserved)

Tags: , , ,

November 5, 2018

Dutchman wins Welsh bookshop in raffle

Filed under: Literature by Orangemaster @ 2:08 pm

Not only will Cies-Jan van Heerden, a Dutchman originally from Wijk bij Duurstede, Utrecht get the keys from the second-hand Welsh bookshop he recently won in a raffle, but the BBC has also decided to make a film about it.

The BBC will be there to film the hand-over of Bookends in Cardigan, Wales where Van Heerden now lives from retiring owner Paul Morris to both Van Heerden and his new business partner, Sveinejorn Stefan Einarsson from Iceland who has moved to Wales to help run the business. Both new owners were online friends for eight or nine years and only recently met face to face, which can only make for an interesting story.

And in keeping with always mentioning the price of things, Van Heerden only had to buy some 20 euro worth of books to be in the running to win the whole shop.

(Link: rtvutrecht.nl)

Tags: , ,

September 15, 2018

Amsterdam’s discarded mattresses to be published in book

Filed under: Literature,Photography by Orangemaster @ 6:05 pm

Earlier this month, we told you about French woman Nastassja Guay Bonnabel who draws naked people on mattresses. This week, Dutch documentary filmmaker Miguel Narings wants to put all his discarded mattresses pictures in a book, possibly including some from Bonnabel.

Why does a filmmaker want to make a book about discarded mattresses? Because Narings also has an instagram account where he has been posting pictures of abandoned mattresses in Amsterdam for a few years.

He has started a crowdfunding campaign to get this book published, and has a stock of over 1000 photos, including some sent to him from around the world.

The book will be called ‘Mattresses of Amsterdam’, of which the book’s graphics will be created by graphic designer Bella Donna. Narings needs 8,000 euro to publish his book and as I write this has collected 535 euro.

(Link and photo: parool.nl)

Tags: , , , ,

September 8, 2018

Dutch and Flemish poetry now all in one database

Filed under: Literature by Orangemaster @ 1:56 pm


On the website straatpoezie.nl run by Utrecht University, Dutch-language specialist Kila van der Starre has been attempting to inventory all public poetry in the Netherlands and Flanders for a year and a half now, and is already headed towards 2000 entries from 957 different poets.

The fun part is, everybody can participate by adding their findings in a database that is searchable by title and author. The author with the most entries so far is Ida Gerhardt with 35 poems.

Great stuff for anyone into Dutch-language poetry, as I’m assuming they’re only noting those ones – and rightly so. There are surely poems in other languages and dialects throughout the country.

(Link: straatpoezie.nl, via onzetaal.nl, (Illustration: Dutch-American poet, artist and scientist Leo Vroman by Leo Vroman, self-portrait)

Tags: , , ,