Following the success of the Netherlands and Flanders as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the Dutch Foundation for Literature and Flanders Literature will be concentrating on France over the next two years: the second biggest book market in Europe and the fifth biggest in the world. With an intensive campaign entitled Les Phares du Nord, the two literature foundations aim to achieve substantial growth in the number of literary translations into French as well as greater visibility for Dutch-language authors in France. The starting shot of the campaign will be fired this coming Thursday, 1 June, during ‘Le Boekenbal’ in Paris.
The large and internationally oriented French book market has always had plenty of room for translations. Important publishers such as Gallimard and Actes Sud (whose director is the new French minister of culture, Françoise Nyssen) have prominent Dutch-language lists.
Les Phares du Nord will begin in Paris on Thursday 1 June with ‘Le Boekenbal’, a festive evening in the Atelier Néerlandais with performances by cabaret artist Freek de Jonge, poet laureate Ester Naomi Perquin, artist Olfa ben Ali, writer Abdelkader Benali and French historian Christophe de Voogd. A prelude to the book ball will be the festive opening of the exhibition ‘Théâtre de l’humanité’, with work by Dutch photographers Koos Breukel, Sander Troelstra and Bart Koetsier. The book ball itself is organized by the Dutch embassy in Paris and will bring influential guests from the French cultural and literary worlds together around Dutch culture.
On Thursday afternoon, before the ball, a translation workshop was held in the residence of the Dutch ambassador in Paris for literary translators from Dutch into French and from French into Dutch. Led by Peter Bergsma, director of the Translators’ House in Amsterdam, the workshop was honoured to receive a visit from Jet Bussemaker, who opened ‘Le Boekenbal’ that evening. Minister Bussemaker then paid an introductory visit to the newly installed French Minister of Culture, Françoise Nyssen, an expert on and lover of Dutch literature who in her former capacity as publisher at Actes Sud published many Dutch and Flemish authors in French.
Cultural season Oh! Pays-Bas
The Paris book ball is not just the kick-off to the literary campaign Les Phares du Nord but the start of the Oh! Pays-Bas cultural season, with innovative Dutch art, literature and design on display all over France between now and June 2018. The Netherlands has a lopsided reputation as the country of Rembrandt, Vermeer, flowers and canals (as well as weed and euthanasia), and too little as a partner to the youthful France that through technology, art and literature tells a story of modernity, hope, innovation, artistry, creativity and friendly collaboration.
Les Phares du Nord is organized and financed by the Dutch Foundation for Literature and Flanders Literature, in close collaboration with the Dutch embassy in Paris and with literary critic and programme maker Margot Dijkgraaf, who is a cultural intendant at the embassy.