Does the Netherlands have any great literature to boast of? This question is often put to me when I am abroad. So who then are the doyens of that Dutch literature? Many of the people I talk to are unable to name even a single writer from the Dutch-speaking world. Erasmus, Spinoza, Anne Frank – it appears that none of these are directly associated with the Netherlands, even though Erasmus lived in Rotterdam, Spinoza was born in Amsterdam, and Het achterhuis [The diary of a young girl] was written in an Amsterdam house overlooking a canal. Anyone wishing to sketch a picture of Dutch literature of the past fifty years must look at five major writers: Willem Frederik Hermans, Gerard Reve (both now deceased), Harry Mulisch, Cees Nooteboom, and Hella S. Haasse.
more from Margot Dijkgraaf at Eurozine here.