Netherlands guest of honour at Beijing book fair

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The Netherlands is guest of honour at the 2011 Beijing International Book Fair BIBF, which will start on 31 August and last until 4 September.

Deputy Culture Minister Halbe Zijlstra and his Chinese colleague Cài W will jointly open the literary event on Wednesday morning nine o’clock local time. More than 20 Dutch authors, musicians and illustrators will be present at the BIBF, including Kader Abdolah, Adriaan van Dis, Anna Enquist and Ramsey Nasr. Also present will be 16 Dutch publishers.

The Dutch exhibit, which covers an area of 1500 m2, is called ‘Open Landscape – Open Book’. It will feature eight exhibitions illustrating the full range of Dutch books. These include exhibitions on novelist Willem Frederik Hermans, children’s books author Annie M G Schmidt, Vincent van Gogh and his life in letters, 12 illustrators, the Sinologist Robert van Gulik, and literature in comic book form by such artists as Joost Swarte and Peter Pontiac.

Also present at the BIBF will be Princess Laurentien the wife of Queen Beatrix's third son Prince Constantijn, who will attend the official presentation of the Chinese translation of her children’s book Mr Finney and the World Turned Upside-down.

The book, which was earlier translated into English, Catalan and Spanish, is about Mr Finney, who one day – safely at home in his own garden - meets Pinky Pepper, a pink creature who shows him images of major cities, oceans, forests, and a mysterious flag. His curiosity piqued, Mr Finney sets out on a journey of discovery. Princess Laurentien said she hoped that reading her book would inspire Chinese children “to ask grown-ups questions about how we treat the earth and our natural environment.”

Director Henk Pröpper of the Dutch Foundation for Literature says there is growing interest in modern Western literature among Chinese readers. In the past six years no less than 80 Dutch books have been translated into Chinese. About 50 new titles will be presented at the BIBF.

The Dutch Foundation for Literature also wants to encourage Dutch readers to read Chinese authors. Dutch translations of recent works by Chinese authors S Tóng and Mián Mián will be presented at Manuscripta, the Dutch book fair which will be held from 3 until 5 September at Amsterdam’s Westergasfabriek.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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