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New Dutch Writing asks the big questions at UK Festivals this Autumn

New Dutch Writing campaign is delighted to welcome Dutch writers to the UK this Autumn with two key festival partnerships with Cheltenham Literature Festival and Off the Shelf Festival of Words, Sheffield. The exciting depth and breadth of the vibrant Dutch literary scene offers something for every reader in a programme of events featuring fabulous children’s books, insightful, timely nonfiction and brilliant contemporary fiction.

2022 seems the perfect time to ask the question - does such a thing as ‘The Great European Novel’ exist? One of Europe’s most celebrated authors, Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer (Grand Hotel Europa, translator Michele Hutchinson, Fourth Estate) takes on the thorny issue of European identity and what it means for world literature.


As part of part of Cheltenham Literature Festival's Read the World programme, we are thrilled to welcome back Dutch author of Iraqi descent Rodaan Al Galidi to discuss his novel The Leash and the Ball (translator Jonathan Reeder, World Editions) which draws on the author’s own experience of nine years in an asylum centre in the Netherlands. Later in the week Hanna Bervoets (We Had To Remove This Post, translator Emma Rault, Picador), one of the most acclaimed Dutch writers of her generation, and recipient of many literary awards, takes a powerful look at a future which leaves social media to determine our world view.


The Hague’s Mauritshuis Museum is home to one of the world’s greatest art collections, from Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring to Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson. Since opening its doors 200 years ago it has inspired countless visitors, including writers from Marcel Proust to Donna Tartt. To mark the Mauritshuis’ bicentenary year, New Dutch Writing and Cheltenham Literature Festival are excited to welcome the Director of The Mauritshuis, Martine Gosselink to discuss the complexities of the Netherlands’ colonial past and the influence of the Dutch Golden Age on writers from around the world.

Fresh from his sell-out event at Wigtown Festival, Pieter Waterdrinker (The Long Song of Tchaikovsky Street, translator Paul Evans, Scribe) brings his unparalleled knowledge of modern Russia to Cheltenham in a timely discussion informed by his thirty years living in Saint Petersburg, which he was forced to leave earlier this year. And from an event reflecting on contemporary troubled times to the very beginnings of humankind – we turn to Frank Westerman (We, Hominids, translator Sam Garrett, Head of Zeus), one of Holland’s greatest non-fiction writers, as he travels the globe in search of the first human being at what will be a fascinating event at Sheffield’s Off the Shelf Festival of Words.


And if all your cultural explorations have left you in need of some glorious silliness then join wonderful Dutch author and illustrator Harmen van Straaten and his translator Laura Watkinson to ask Hey, Who’s in the Loo and other vital questions. Harmen and Laura will be appearing at both Cheltenham and Off the Shelf in the coming weeks.


All these writers will be attending festivals around the UK with the support of the
New Dutch Writing campaign.

10 Oct

Mon 10 Oct / 2-3pm Cheltenham Literature Festival

The Long Search for Home: Writing the Refugee Experience

Rodaan Al Galidi joins Welsh novelist, Caryl Lewis, as they talk to Literary Explorer in Residence, Ann Morgan about their powerful language-spanning novels that explore the meaning and search for home.


Wed 12 Oct / 12-1pm Cheltenham Literature Festival

The Great European Novel

In a continent spanning more than 40 nations and a multitude of languages, histories, cultures, which novels – from the classic to contemporary – offer us a clear sense of European identity or outlook? Acclaimed Dutch author of Grand Hotel Europa Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer is joined by academic Alan Bilton to discuss. Chaired by Georgina Godwin.


Wed 12 Oct / 1.30-2.30pm Cheltenham Literature Festival
The Mauritshuis: Treasures of the Dutch Golden Age
Join writer and performer Christine Otten, writer Tessa Leuwsha and Director of The Mauritshuis Martine Gosselink, contributors to Pen Meets Paint – an anthology of new writing that responds to paintings in the museum – to explore the history of the museum and to celebrate the magnificent works. Chaired by Rosie Goldsmith.


Thurs 13 Oct / 4-5pm Cheltenham Literature Festival

The Refresh: Getting Back To You

Marijke Schermer, acclaimed Dutch novelist, playwright and author of Love, If That’s What It Is (translator Hester Velmans, World Editions) joins Emma John and Radhika Sanghani explore and embrace the female experience beyond the ‘norm’.


Thurs 13 Oct / 6-7pm Cheltenham Literature Festival

Drawing Back the Iron Curtain

Dutch novelist and memoirist Pieter Waterdrinker joins Timothy Philips and Sheila Fitzpatrick as they reflect on what happened when the communist experiment came to an end. Chaired by The Sunday Times Europe Editor Peter Conradi.


Fri 14 Oct / 7-8pm Off the Shelf Festival of Words

We, Hominids: An Anthropological Detective Story

With an ancient skull as his starting point, Frank Westerman, one of Holland’s greatest non-fiction writers, travelled the globe tracing the search for the first human beings. 


Saturday 15 Oct / 12 noon and 2.50pm Cheltenham Literature Festival Story Shack

Sunday 16 Oct / 2pm Off the Shelf Festival of Words

Join acclaimed Dutch author and illustrator Harmen van Straaten and his translator Laura Watkinson to ask Hey, Who’s in the Loo (Red Robin Books) and other vital questions.


Sun 16 Oct / 8-9pm Cheltenham Literature Festival

Get Rich or Lie Trying: Authenticity and Influence in the Internet Age

Hanna Bervoets’ We Had to Remove This Post follows content moderator Kayleigh through the murky world of social media in an exploration of who or what determines our world view. Together with Symeon Brown and Emily Bootle, the panel asks: in the age of the internet, what is right? What is real? And who gets to decide?


fiction / non-fiction