Sat 01 June 2013

Notes from the Underground #22: Focus on Dutch Language in Budapest

On the 4th of May in Budapest, a daylong celebration of Dutch language and literature took place. The Dutch and Flemish guests included citybooks author Bouke Billiet, who struck up a dialogue with Jaap Faber (citybooks Bucharest) about authorship, his debut novel and his citybook about Semarang. Tom de Smet, editor of Hungary Today, tells us more about this Dutch-Hungarian day…


In the rooms of the Vlaamse Vertegenwoordiging (Flemish Representation) inside the Goethe Institute in Budapest, a steady flow of book-loving Hungarians passed through in search of a steal at the second-hand book market, or nuggets of insight at the presentations and workshops. But Dutch and Flemish residents of Hungary came along too on the 4th of May to this Day of Dutch Books and Language / Read the language of the North Sea! Some even arrived bearing boxes bursting with books.

One of the guests in Budapest was author Bouke Billiet (citybooks Semarang). His novel In de naam van TienKamelen (In the Name of TenCamels), about loneliness, living outside the law, and becoming adult in a strange and often malevolent world was recently published. This, alongside his role in society as a writer, his take on his own family history and his journey to Semarang (Indonesia) for citybooks, formed the subject matter for a gripping interview led by teacher of Dutch language and literature, Jaap Faber (citybooks Bucharest). And of course, given that 2013 is the year of reading aloud, Bouke read from his own work, too.
Furthermore, dozens took part in the ‘Low Countries Poetry Quiz’, put together by various teachers of Dutch studies. Divided into three groups – Rubens, Rembrandt and Erasmus, the participants made limericks, solved puzzles in which fragments of different poems were mixed up with one another, and recited poems in a host of dramatic styles. And though, sadly, the final boasted no Hungarians, (Bouke Billiet went on to win!), an important goal was nevertheless reached: to join together Hungarian, Dutch and Flemish literature lovers through the medium of the Dutch language.

(Tom de Smet, editor of Hungary Today)

The Day of Dutch Books and Language was organised by Hongarije Vandaag and the Vlaamse Vertegenwoordiging in Hungary and was in made possible with the help of the Algemeen-Nederlands Verbond, Eenvoudig Communiceren publishers, teachers and students of Dutch studies in Hungary and many volunteers.

Photos: © Zsuzsanna Lénárt and Tom de Smet


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