Good Practice: the international promotion of Dutch literature

Good Practice: the international promotion of Dutch literature

In the spotlight: New Dutch Writing and the Airport Library by The Dutch Foundation for Literature before, during and after the pandemic.
By Lotte Bosch

In January DutchCulture published Turn and Face the Strange, an overview of outstanding international cultural exchange practices that took place in 2020. The overview contains examples of good practices in the 23 focus countries of the International Cultural Policy framework 2021-2024, capturing the state of play at the various embassies and consulates. Today we spotlight the international efforts of DutchCulture's partner organisation the Dutch Foundation for Literature. 

The New Dutch Writing campaign continues

In July 2019 the foundation launched the New Dutch Writing campaign, to promote Dutch writing in translation in the UK and Ireland and to nurture the next generation of translators. Over the past one and a half year, there have been over 60 author events at a range of festivals and literature venues nationwide, featuring Dutch writers in conversation with their British counterparts. During the pandemic, the events switched to an online space, but the interesting partnerships and collaborations maintained. The New Dutch Writing campaign will continue throughout 2021. 

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New Dutch Writing campaign
Funding for the Airport Library 

A second bit of news to celebrate is the announcement that the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science will provide funding for the Airport Library at Amsterdam Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for another period of four years. The Dutch Foundation for Literature is one of the initiator partners of the project and is formally responsible for the library dependence at the airport.  

The library was founded in 2010 as a collaboration between several library organisations and Schiphol. It was the first airport library in the world and it was immediately credited for its innovative and appealing concept. The library is basically the first encounter with Dutch literature and culture for transferring passengers. In addition to the collection of 1,200 physical books and e-books, the Airport Library offers multimedia presentations about Dutch culture and history. The organisation is currently working on a digital map of Dutch culture in foreign countries and thinking about a central place for music within the collection. 

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Airport Library at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Photo: Thijs Wolzak.
Upcoming events for all ages

As long as the travel ban applies, there will be less many passengers being able to enjoy the possibilities of the Airport Library at Schiphol. But the promotion of Dutch literature through the New Dutch Writing campaign continues. On March 30 the writers and illustrators of two Dutch children’s books will present their work at the Cambridge Literary Festival. Author Marc ter Horst and illustrator Wendy Panders will talk about their book Palm trees at the North Pole about climate change. Harmen van Straaten, the award-winning author and illustrator, talks about and draws from his best-selling book Hey, who’s in the loo? accompanied by his translator Laura Watkinson. To watch the broadcasted talks, you can buy a Children’s Festival Online Pass.

But before that, the launch of The Dutch Riveter-magazine will take place on March 17. In the special Dutch edition of The Riveter, you will be able to discover the latest trends in Dutch literature, through extracts, reviews and specially commissioned features. The Dutch Riveter launches with a literary cabaret of readings, discussion, live drawing and music in partnership with The British Library. Three outstanding Dutch writers, Karin Amatmoekrim, Simone Atangana Bekono and Maartje Wortel, and the great translator Sam Garrett, come together to discuss riveting topics, translation and the new Dutch writing itself. Besides that, the Dutch singer-songwriter Vanwyck and political cartoonist Henny Beaumont from the Guardian will perform too. The event will be live broadcasted via the website of The British Library for free. 

An indispensable role 

The New Dutch Writing campaign and the innovative Airport Library are both great examples of the indispensable role of the Dutch Foundation for Literature in promoting contemporary and historical Dutch writers and their books. The foundation's good practices offer a broad view on the richness of Dutch literature and culture to an international audience, before, during and after the de pandemic.

Read about other good practices of international cultural exchange