Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers
'I need some anarchy!'
Arriving on the stand on the first day, I’d asked a Chinese visitor how she thought her fellow countrymen would react to Dutch literature. She thought they’d be mainly, perhaps solely, interested in the children’s books and the comics exhibition.
Ramsey Nasr (‘Lamsey Nasher’) taking a political stand, grabbing a megaphone
Dutch children’s books are doing well in China, there is a significant market for them. With limited numbers of children, parents want to make sure they get the very best upbringing; allied to this, the education sector is also a major part of publishing here too. She was right: the comics exhibition thronged with visitors, the children’s books were much examined and the art and architecture books went down well too.
But what neither of us had predicted was the level of attendance at the Dutch events. The readings by all the writers were incredibly well-attended, the audiences attentive and enthusiastic. It was a heart-warming experience for an editor grown cynical after a long succession of events back home attended by just a handful of spectators. This is not how the Dutch welcome visiting writers. Tonight’s poetry programme in a hip hutong in the centre was jam-packed. They even took kindly to Ramsey Nasr (‘Lamsey Nasher’) taking a political stand, grabbing a megaphone and shouting out, ‘I need some anarchy!’
As the fair nears an end, I’m feeling quite optimistic. The rains have washed away the smog and there’s a blue sky for the first time during our visit. I might not have found Thinkingdom (the cued-up Toby Eady Associates couldn’t help either) but Jelto Drenth is at the forefront of a sexual revolution, Maarten ‘t Hart has gone down a treat, there’s a scrap on for the rights to Bride Flight and Anna Enquist’s events have been full.