Skip to main content

Flanders and the Netherlands fire up the German book market

Since the start of this year, our foreign promotion has been targeted at Germany. Along with the Dutch Foundation for Literature, we are creating opportunities to connect the German-language books market with authors and translators in the Dutch-language area. This is all to do with the fast-approaching 2024 Leipzig Book Fair, at which the two countries will be guest of honour. Leipzig is the largest book fair in Germany open to the public, and it goes hand in hand with the readers’ festival Leipzig Liest. Over the past few weeks our caravan has called at several major German cities and made a convincing impression in Rotterdam too.

Lisa Weeda in Rotterdam 2022
Author Lisa Weeda speaking in Rotterdam © Dutch Foundation for Literature

Translators’ wish lists

In May six translators from Dutch into German, the best ambassadors for literature from the Low Countries, offered a glimpse of their wish lists. Stefan Wieczorek, Meike Blatnik, Lisa Mensing, Janine Malz, Merlijn Hoogenkamp and Bärbel Jänincke roused the interest of sixteen German publishers in Dutch books they believe the German reader should get to know. They showcased, for example, the family secret in ‘De Huisvriend’ (Friend of the Family) by Heleen De Bruyne, the cry for family affection in ‘Pluto’ by Lara Taveirne, and the account of life in an orthodox fishing village in ‘De Ontdekking van Urk’ (The Mystery of Urk) by Matthias M.R. Declercq.

Lize Spit in Rotterdam 2022
Author Lize Spit speaking in Rotterdam © Dutch Foundation for Literature

Authors on a platter

In June we passed the torch to the authors. In Rotterdam, Annet Schaap, Gaea Schoeters, Miet Van Hout, Pieter Gaudesaboos, Wieteke van Zeil, Lize Spit, Lisa Weeda, Gerbrand Bakker, Toine Heijmans, Anneleen Van Offel, Martijn van der Linden and Marancke Rinck, each with their own inspiring approach, told an audience of German literary organizations about their work. The artistic productions staged by the authors took our staff member Matthias Dillen by surprise.

Impression of our colleague
Matthias Dillen, Grants Manager Fiction & Picture Books, accompanied the authors

When Gaea Schoeters introduced the story of ‘Trofee’ (Trophy), in which the hunt goes after a young man instead of a wild animal, pushing to extremes our beliefs about the hunt, the audience was immediately transfixed. The presentation by de Boon winner Pieter Gaudesaboos about ‘Een Zee van Liefde’ (A Sea of Love) was a gripping author reading, polished to perfection. The session on action painting by Mies Van Hout brought the animals in her picture books to life. The non-fiction book ‘Altijd iets te vinden’ (Always Something to be Found), in which Wieteke Van Zeil offers us different pairs of spectacles through which to look at art, was discussed in detail during a visit to art museum Boijmans van Beuningen. Such an introduction gives those compiling their programmes solid starting points in deciding what to offer the public.

Literature houses in Germany

Along with festivals for book lovers, literature in Germany is consistently supported by the country’s network of literature houses. Like our libraries, they are open to readers all year round, but their activities include extensive programmes of literary events and meetings with authors, both for adults and for children. We definitely intend to include the literature houses in our promotional efforts for Dutch-language authors in connection with our turn as guest of honour in 2024, an opportunity that reaches far beyond simply the Leipzig Book Fair.

Marieke Roels, responsible for international promotion at Flanders Literature, has been polishing up her German this month for a tour through more western parts of Germany. In Munich, Frankfurt and Cologne, without the time pressure of a book fair, she presented the most recent Dutch books to publishing houses Carl Hanser Verlag, Droemer Knaur, dtv Verlagsgesellschaft, DuMont Buchverlag, Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Luchterhand, Penguin Random House, S. Fischer, Piper and Schöffling & Co.

literature houses
Network of Literature Houses in Germany

Translations from Dutch into German in 2022

This year the following twenty authors saw a German edition in prospect of one or more of their books, supported by a translation grant. Their work now has pride of place, or soon will, in German bookshops: Bart Van Loo (De Bourgondiërs), Bram Dehouck (Witte Raaf), Charlotte Van den Broeck (Nachtroer, Waagstukken), David Van Reybrouck (Odes, Revolusi), Gaea Schoeters (Trofee), Jan Van Der Veken (Het Botenboek), Johan De Boose (Het Vloekhout), Judith Van Istendael (Blokje om), Leo Timmers (De Lieve Krokodil), Lize Spit (Ik ben er niet), Maud Vanhauwaert (Trimaran #3), Peter Terrin (Al het blauw, Blanco), Stefan Hertmans (De Opgang), Sulaiman Addonia (Stilte is mijn moedertaal), Thaïs Vanderheyden (Grote Kunst voor Kleine Kenners), Toon Horsten (De Pater en de Filosoof), Wauter Mannaert (Yasmina 1: Het geheim van de chef), Willem (Van den vos Reynaerde), Mathilde Masters and Louize Perdieus ('321/123 things' series). 

Rotterdam 2022
Captivated German audience in Rotterdam © Dutch Foundation for Literature
Jul 12th, 2022