Monday, April 20, 2009

Queer Dutch authors to look out for

You might not realize it, but the Netherlands has quite a few out queer authors. You have probably heard from some of the more established and commonly known names like Doeschka Meijsing, Ina Bouman (who wrote the first Dutch feminist thriller), or if we go way back, Anna Blaman, but I would like to tell you about a few others that you may or may not have heard of.
Adriënne Nijssen (1954) is a writer of both lesbian short stories, as well as novels. To date she has published four books, including three novels, Dansen op de Waterlijn (Dancing on the waterline), De Derde Draad (The third thread) and Noem mij maar Maud (Call me Maud). Dansen op de Waterlijn won the audience choice award for best lesbian novel in 2007.

Her debut was In de holte van haar arm (In the crook of her arm), which was released in 2004. It is a collection of 30 short stories, which is still on the bestsellers list of most Dutch lesbian bookstores. It was also the first publication by lesbian publishing house La Vita.

Besides being an author, Nijssen is also a journalist and a teacher. In her spare time she is also active in the Dutch lesbian scene, working for both the COC and Groep 7152. Currently Nijssen is working on her autobiography, as well as a children’s novel.

The latest novel of author Anja de Crom (1964) entitled Halsoverkop (Head over heels) has just been released this week. It is the follow up to her novel Villa Volta from 2006, about a girl who falls in love while helping a group of older lesbians to set up a housing community.

Pitty naar college (Pitty goes to college) was her debut novel, which she wrote together with author Esther Bremer. It is a sequel to the famous books about the adventures of Pitty and her friends at boarding school by Enid Blyton.

When she is not busy writing novels, de Crom spends her time giving writing workshops, playing music and working as a journalist (she has done over 200 hundred interviews with all kinds of famous and not so famous folks). She also works for the great website about everything to do with Dutch queer books Lesbisch Lezen (Lesbian reading).

Rianne Witte (1972) is the author of the most advertised Dutch lesbian novel of 2009, Schijn, hoop en liefde (Pretence, hope and love). The novel tells the story of a young, naive and insecure lesbian living in a strict and religious environment in the middle of the Dutch Bible belt.

Her debut novel is all about religion, coming out and learning to stand up for yourself. Before writing Schijn, hoop en liefde, Witte won second prize in the story contest of the Lesbian Festival Nijmegen 2007 for her short story Moeders (Mothers).

Another one of her short stories entitled Het roze mantelpak (The pink suit) can be found in the short story collection De tangosalon en andere verhalen over vrouwenliefde (The tangosalon and other stories about the love of women).

Interesting facts about Witte include that she used to work in IT, until she realized a few years ago that she was gay. This totally changed her life, made her look for a different career and made her find out that she is in fact creative.

Someone who also discovered she was a lesbian later in life, is author and singer Karin Giphart(1968). Being the sister of well-known Dutch author Ronald Giphart, expectations were high for her debut novel Maak me blij (Make me happy), which was released in 2005.

In this novel we meet Ziggy and Adisa who, even though they have just ended their turbulent relationship, decide to still go on holiday together. Obviously, this can only lead to a lot more drama.

More drama can be found in Karin’s second novel Iets tussen broer en zus (something between brother and sister), about a brother and sister who have a strong love-hate relationship. To make matters worse, the sister falls in love with her brother’s girlfriend and the two of them embark upon an affair without the brother’s knowledge.

When she is not writing novels, Giphart is a singer songwriter (her debut album And she bites was released in 2005), and she also has a column in queer magazine ZijaanZij.

All books mentioned in this article can be found and ordered here or at the publisher’s website. Most books can also be bought in regular Dutch bookstores and through Unfortunately, to my knowledge, none of these books have been translated (yet).

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