This weekend The Hague will be taken over by one of Holland’s biggest literary festivals. Crossing Border operates throughout Holland and Belgium, but their big festival is still in their home base of The Hague. And while they also have a lot of good music (we’re looking at you Jeff Tweedy), the literary guests should definitely not be under estimated. We’ll be there this weekend and we figured we’d share some of the things you don’t want to miss!


Of course we can’t go to Crossing Border and not mention Jaap Robben. If you’ve been to our LIK’r & Literature event, you’ve already seen him in action, but if you haven’t this is a great opportunity to meet the this writer from Nijmegen. At our event he read from his debut novel Birk, which is about a boy, Mikael, who moves with his parents to an isolated island between the coast of Scotland and Norway. When one day his dad disappears into the sea, Mikael doesn’t tell anyone what has happened. Besides writing novels, Jaap was also the Stadsdichter from Nijmegen, so expect some great sentences that will be soothing to your ears.

To keep with the Dutch authors, Hanneke Hendrix is one not to be missed. She recently published her second novel De dyslectische-hartenclub – her first won the prestigious Prix Italia prize – and this book tells the exciting story of Anna. She’s brought to the hospital with burns on her body and put into a room with two other women. They quickly realize something strange is going on when men gather in the parking lot of the hospital every night. The women think they are in danger and try to escape. You’ll find both Jaap and Anneke during the On The Road program by Dutch publisher De Geus. 

Philip Huff is another Dutch author we advise you to go see. He recently published his novel Het Boek van de Doden, which really resonates with anyone who is about to turn thirty. It takes a very hard look at our generation and the expectations and disappointments we encounter. Huff is part of a program organized by publisher De Bezige Bij and you can see him in action on Saturday.

Letterature 2011 - Festival Internazionale di Roma - June 8, 2011

We won’t be seeing Gary Steyngart this weekend, as we’ll visit an entire night dedicated to him coming Monday with The John Adams Institute, but definitely go see him at Crossing Border if you get the chance. He’s touring to promote his memoir called Little Failures, which is about a boy born in Leningrad (Steyngart himself) for which his parents have high hopes. But instead of becoming a lawyer, he has the heart of an artist. His family starts calling him little failure after that and the book goes deep into trying to find his place while balancing his Russian family life and his american ambitions. He’ll be interviewed by Tim de Gier on Friday.

Akhil Sharma is an Indian-American author whose new book came out 10 years after publishing his first. The long awaited Family Life is a book about an Indian family who recently emigrated to America. Told from the perspective of the two young sons, they find it a country filled with miracles. But when tragedy strikes, the boys are left alone and one of them has to deal with a serious brain injury. The youngest of the boys then needs to survive on his own in this strange country. Sharma will also be interviewed about his new book on Friday by Hans Bouman.

Paulo Giordano doesn’t really need an introduction besides mentioning his first novel The Solitude of Prime Numbers, which was a huge hit in The Netherlands. He’s back with a second novel called The Human Body about young Italian soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. It’s supposed to be a very emotional and dark book, but unfortunately not yet translated in English. He’ll be interviewed by Anna Drijver on Friday as well.

Sarah Waters has written so many bestsellers that you know her from all of them. Her latest book The Paying Guests is another historical novel, this time set in 1920’s London. Everyone was poor back then, so when Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter are asked if they have room for two lodgers, they go for it. But instead of just paying rent, the couple brings in much more than Mrs. Wray bargained for. Sarah Waters will be interviewed on Saturday by Xandra Schutte.

Michaïl Sjiskin is one of the most important Russian authors of the moment, but most likely you haven’t heard of him. His work is being compared to that of great Russian authors like Pushkin, Chekov and Nabokov. He writes in Russian and his work is now being translated in Dutch and English as well. Definitely not to be missed if you like the undiscovered. He’ll be interviewed on Friday by Laura Starink.

My_Salinger_YearAnd finally, if you are not up for visiting Crossing Border in the evenings, then you might want to visit the Saturday afternoon program with Ian McEwan and Joanna Rakoff. We’re very excited about this one, especially about Rakoff’s book My Salinger Year in which she describes her one year working for Salinger’s literary agency. McEwan has been writing for ages, but now he tried his hand at a teen novel called The Children’s Act. McEwan will be interviewed by Jaap Robben and Rakoff by Liddie Austen.

These are some of the author’s we’d like to see the coming two days. Let us know if you’re also going and who you’d like to see in the comments!


Charlotte de Heer is the oldest of the founding sisters. Even though she's too busy for her own good, she'll find the time to write about books she's reading and places she's going.

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