During this cold winter time you sometimes want to stay at home, lay in bed and watch series on Netflix. But what do you do when you have watched all episodes of your favorite series? You can start reading a book of a Dutch writer translated in English! Here’s our pick of four great Dutch books.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
In this book you can read the complete diary of Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl who was hiding for two years during the Nazi occupation in The Netherlands. During this period, she was cut off from the outside world. Together with her family they faced hunger, boredom and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. A thoughtful, moving and compelling self-portrait of a young woman.
Tip: You can also visit the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam. Here it’s possible to enter the house with the “secret annexe” where Anne was hidden for two years.
The Dinner by Herman Koch
This fifth novel of Herman Koch takes place in De Kas, a well-known restaurant in Amsterdam popular with yuppies. Two brothers and their wives meet for dinner and as the evening wears on some very unsavoury truths emerge. The narrator is disillusioned and deeply cynical former teacher Paul. Although he and his wife Claire seem to enjoy a happy home life, he lays at his politician brother’s door. It transpires that his son has committed a disgusting and cold-blooded crime. Paul may have mislaid his moral compass but his vicious comments on middle-class tastes are right on target.
The Twins by Tessa de Loo
This famous book of well-known writer Tessa de Loo is about love between two blood relatives. Two women, both born in 1916, meet each other at the thermal institute of the famous health resort Spa. One, Anna, is German. The other, Lotte, is Dutch (but not by origin). She turns out to be the twin sister of Anna, with whom she spent the first years of her life in Cologne and with whom she lost contact shortly after the death of their parents. Because the two sisters have led completely different lives, their unexpected meeting provides the reader with several conversations which reveal the hidden side of history.
Tip: There’s also a film of this book called ‘De Tweeling’ in Dutch. When you find English subtitles, you can watch this film while practicing your Dutch. Winning!
Turkish delight by Jan Wolkers
This classic Dutch novel by Jan Wolkers, was first published in Dutch in 1969 and became an instant hit because of its erotic scenes. Scandalous as it may have seemed at the time, the book is actually more of a melancholy love story: A nameless artist has been angry since Olga, the great love of his life, left him a few years before. He cannot accept that she is gone and lies in bed for weeks, fantasising about what he has lost. The story gives you insight into the love lives of two young people who lived in the late ’60s.