DutchCulture
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Genres

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The standard form of Dutch literature is the novel. Short stories are often viewed as nothing more than practice for ‘the real thing’. A telling fact is the decision by the Libris Literature Prize, with effect from 2010, to no longer accept nominations of short story collections. However, the impressive anthology of Dutch and Flemish short stories, De Nederlandse en Vlaamse Literatuur vanaf 1880 in 250 Verhalen (2005), compiled by Joost Zwagerman, is proof that the Dutch language does in fact contain a wealth of extremely well-written short stories, past and present. Poetry is another genre that is not greatly appreciated by the Dutch public, although the Netherlands does have its own Poet Laureate, a title held since 2009 by Ramsey Nasr (1974). This young poet with a non-Western background has made a vocal contribution to the public debate on the multicultural society and art in the Netherlands. Other contemporary poets who have enjoyed some measure of public success are the ‘old hands’ Remco Campert and Jules Deelder, and the younger Ingmar Heytze (1970) and Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer (1968).

Dutch children’s literature has a few famous names who have also achieved international success. The most well-known of these is Annie M. G. Schmidt, but the fables of Toon Tellegen are also of high literary quality.

And finally, literary fiction is a genre in which contemporary Dutch writers seem to feel at home. Geert Mak wrote a best seller with his weighty book In Europe, and other writers, such as psychologist Douwe Draaisma and former journalist Frank Westerman, have followed in his wake in finding a place on the shelves of foreign bookshops.