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The BBC's bank in Manchester (photo by author)

After the #Zomergasten with Bibi Dumon Tak, the main question remains: how to proceed with books on TV?

Adriaan van Dis with an intensely coquettish Renate Dorrestein, who (rightly) got him on the ropes with a few well-aimed pussy remarks. This excerpt from 1991 opened Zomergasten 2023 #4, and it chopped. Nostalgia all around, and during those first minutes of Theo Maassen with animal and children's book author Bibi Dumon Tak, the bar was set high. Would Theo Maassen with this... 

Writer Henk Pröpper's slow heartbeat

Writer and publicist Henk Pröpper had only just moved to his beloved Paris when the city came to a standstill, and so did his heart almost. Once fitted with a pacemaker, he took to the city in the one hour a day Parisians were allowed. A new world opened up for him. For Henk Pröpper (62), former director... 

The 'weird life' of all-rounder Jef Last is not over

Better to die standing than to live kneeling. The statement is fresh in memory after the murder in the Lange Leidse Dwarsstraat, as a mantra in praise of Peter R de Vries, his fearlessness, non-conformism, straightforwardness and honesty. This same statement jumps out even from the first paragraphs of the introduction to the biography of poet Jef Last, written by Rudi Wester.1.... 

Judith Uyterlinde (World Editions) - Animation fits well with the artistic and fictional nature of our novels

As in the animation sector, the book trade is hugely diverse. Within the Netherlands, around 4,500(!) publishing houses operate. From cooking and baking to self-help, from fact to fiction, an awful lot is written and published in the Netherlands. But there is also a publisher, World Editions, which does operate from the Netherlands, but focuses on the English market. They translate existing... 

Antonio Scurati wrote novel about Mussolini: 'Of my readers, 99 per cent consider the book anti-fascist. The other 1 per cent were already fascist and recognise themselves in it.'

Formation of the Fasci di combattimento (the Black Shirts) Milan, Piazza San Sepolcro, 23 March 1919 We look out on Piazza San Sepolcro. Barely a hundred people. All men who don't count. We are few and we are dead. They wait for me to speak, but I have nothing to say. The stage is empty, awash with eleven million corpses,... 


Today I must write about A.L. Snijders, the totally idiosyncratic inventor of the Very Short Story. I have admired his work ever since I discovered it through Vrijstaat Austerlitz (1997-1999), a literary magazine that ran for only four issues. Those are probably the best literary magazines, the fewer issues they cover the better. Arjan Witte and Tommy Wieringa, two of the founders... 

How writer Maartje Wortel was confronted with herself: 'I was literally and figuratively running the same laps over and over again.'

For five years, writers Maartje Wortel and Niña Weijers walked endless laps through the Oosterpark every day. When that suddenly came to an end, Wortel was suddenly confronted with herself in a big way. 'I didn't feel I had anything to hold on to anymore'. Cheerfully waving, Maartje Wortel (38) approaches, a full bag of groceries in hand. 'Not handy no, for a walking interview,' observes... 

Maartje Wortel lives through the Oosterpark

'The book is a declaration of love to Niña, I dedicated it to her unborn child.' Writer Maartje Wortel (38) lived right by Amsterdam's Oosterpark until recently. Her friend and fellow writer Niña Weijers lived on the other side. For five years, they walked laps of the park together, sometimes several times a day. In The Groove, Carrot tells about... 


It is almost Christmas. Miss Kate and Miss Julia are giving their annual ball. One by one the guests appear, there is dancing, eating (greasy brown goose, marinated rib eye, pudding), there is apprehension about Freddy Malins who is bound to appear drunk again, and Gabriel gives a short table speech as usual. Gabriel fears his speech will be too pompous. He... 

Guilt helps no one. Philosopher and writer Jannah Loontjens took a closer look at her gnawing conscience

I have come to realise that guilt creates a distance. To others, I sometimes come across as cool and reserved; this is because I unconsciously shut down to suppress my feelings and desires. I don't want to get in the way of others with my emotions. But that also means I rarely let the other person get close.

Making our own music and singing are essential to our sense of security

It is not only healthier but also more effective if, in our social institutions, we start making the transition from rigid control to learning processes and training sensitivity to the signals of the autonomic nervous system, the signals of safety and danger. It is relevant to embed this socially, for example in educational and care institutions.

'There was a lot that was great about Joost, but this was him too.' Arielle Veerman on her tumultuous marriage to Joost Zwagerman

An ambitious young writer turned Dutch celebrity - Joost Zwagerman's life was turbulent, as was his character. That his marriage ended in divorce after almost twenty years, he could not bear. A year later, on 8 September 2015 - so exactly five years ago today - he ended his life. In her book The Longest Breath, his ex-wife Arielle Veerman looks back. There appears to be no resentment, only sadness.

At Leiden University, the end of patriarchy is shining. 

This weekend, there was some fuss on Twitter. Something about a Nazi comparison that didn't quite work out. Now there is quite often a fuss on Twitter because of a Nazi comparison that doesn't quite work out, but this time it concerned one of our cultural figureheads. Kees Vlaardingerbroek, artistic director of the NTR Saturday matinee and former head of programming at the Rotterdam... 

(With PODCAST) The Netherlands worth a quarter of a billion more because of books. (And only a few writers benefit from that)

A person working at a publishing house thus generates for himself an income of 42,379.79 euros. That is slightly more than the average income of people in the book trade, who only make do with an average of 31,000 euros per person. This income is largely generated by authors and translators. These earn - on average - 1540.55 euros. Per person. Per... 

The Book Ball. Everything you must have done once in your life

There I stood. Next to THE RED LOPER. In THE PRESS box. Everything you must have done once in your life and this was MY MOMENT. THE BOOKBALL at THE CITY BURY which was renamed ITA because of the boss' career. To my left TEAM VOLKSKRANT, to my right a cute KRULLENBOL from the LINDA and in between them a journalist.... 

PODCAST! Why the paper book will never disappear

The paper book will never disappear. Of that, both Robbert Hak (Storytel) and Maarten Richel (New Book Collective) are convinced. And both are working on new ways to market books. 'The publishing world will become much more hybrid. The book, in all its different forms, should be present in as many places as possible.' 'Consumers are using... 

Best Listened to Culture Press Podcast: No more hypes, but beautiful books (on publishing, and why small is fine)

When the longlist of the Man Booker International Prize was announced on 12 March this year, two things stood out. First, of course, that our own Tommy Wieringa had won a place on this list of fiction translated into English. Even more striking was that 11 of the 13 titles had been published by small, independent publishers. That development... 

'For a long time, history has mainly been presented from a male perspective.'

Her debut novel became an instant bestseller in Spain. The Last Gift of Paulina Hoffmann by Carmen Romero Dorr is a novel based partly on her own family history about Paulina, who emigrates from Germany to Spain as a young girl because of World War II. 'About her past, her experiences during the war, my grandmother never wanted to talk.' A beautiful family epic, that is The Last... 

'Only when I've written it down do I know what I thought of something.' Nicolien Mizee on smurfs, gnomes and murder

'Would you like to see my smurfs?' From anyone else's mouth such a question would sound strange, but with Nicolien Mizee you are not surprised. After all, the Haarlem-based writer's books are often a tad strange and absurd, and above all witty. The interview tape is already off, the tea is finished, and Mizee pulls out a kind of maquette... 

Why it's good that De Nederlandse Reisopera is coming to you with Die Tote Stadt.

In 1920, Erich Wolfgang Korngold experienced triumphs with his psychological opera Die tote Stadt. The work was performed in more than eighty cities at the time, with unanimous critical acclaim. The opera then disappeared from the stage for a long time but is nowadays performed again sparsely. So it is good that the Nederlandse Reisopera is bringing this almost forgotten piece back to the stage.... 

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