Writersblog

Salomon Kroonenberg

Salomon Kroonenberg, Dutch writer

The Dutch programme at the International Book Fair in Beijing was cunn... >>> read more

Henk Pröpper

Henk Pröpper, Director Dutch Foundation for Literature

In two weeks’ time, the official opening of one of the largest b... >>> read more

Kai Kang

Kai Kang, Journalist China Reading Weekly

Dear Dutch publishers. The book fair is over. Perhaps you’ll now... >>> read more

Ingrid and Dieter Schubert

Ingrid and Dieter Schubert, Dutch illustrators

The days are full and long. We are incessantly bombarded with impressi... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

Arriving on the stand on the first day, I’d asked a Chinese visi... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

Big excitement today since we were finally meeting with Songyu from Fl... >>> read more

Ingrid and Dieter Schubert

Ingrid and Dieter Schubert, Dutch illustrators

It’s now the third day, and the first one with plenty of sun. Un... >>> read more

Kai Kang

Kai Kang, Journalist China Reading Weekly

What a great opportunity to learn about the Dutch literature for Chine... >>> read more

Salomon Kroonenberg

Salomon Kroonenberg, Dutch writer

A duck flies to and fro over the vast expanses of world ocean, despera... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

‘In the era of browsing, we provide reading.’ - Slogan see... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

The jewel in the crown of our collection of Arbeiderspers titles publi... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

The Chinese publishers I have met during the course of my career, the ... >>> read more

Salomon Kroonenberg

Salomon Kroonenberg, Dutch writer

I have so far never been to a book fair. Nor do I know what to imagine... >>> read more

Kai Kang

Kai Kang, Journalist China Reading Weekly

Since 2006, I began writing about the Netherlands’ performance a... >>> read more

Henk Pröpper

Henk Pröpper, Director Dutch Foundation for Literature

Now that the fair is just round the corner, this is perhaps the moment... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

The traffic in Beijing is horrendous, I’m sure the other blogger... >>> read more

Thomas Möhlmann

Thomas Möhlmann, Staff member Dutch Foundation for Literature

What an evening the poets and the approximately 200 onlookers present ... >>> read more


Rik Smits - The Puzzle of Left-Handedness. How hand-preference colours the world

Rik Smits - The Puzzle of Left-Handedness. How hand-preference colours the world

Throughout history left-handedness has been associated with clumsiness, maladies of all kinds and unpleasant character traits. All these negative connotations have meant that left-handed people were subjected to harsh treatment, even persecution. Today left-handedness no longer bears a stigma – it did not stop Barack Obama and four of his predecessors from becoming president of the United States – but we remain puzzled by the fact that around ten per cent of people, a constant and universal proportion, exhibit a congenital deviation from what we consider normal.

Rik Smits carefully assembles the pieces of the puzzle, placing new insights from neurological and genetic research beside an array of historical anecdotes, strange superstitions and old wives’ tales. Scare stories abounded even in the twentieth century; only a few years ago psychologists claimed that left-handed people had lifespans nine years shorter than average.

As Smits points out, speculation about left-handed mortality was and remains public entertainment, which would hardly be the case were it truly an illness. In his exploration of theories and philosophies of left-handedness around the world, Smits undertakes to explain among other things why no prejudices exist against it in China, although Chinese children too have been forced to eat and write with their right hands. In contrast to the rest of the world, the association of the left with Yang in contrast to Yin makes Chinese attitudes neutral or even positive.

Biography

Rik Smits is a linguist, a science journalist and the author of books on a variety of subjects. As well as left-handedness he has written about language, computers, new media and French cuisine. He is the author of Dawn: How Language Made Man (2009).

Quotes

  • ‘A rich cultural history of left-handedness.’ – Psycholoog