VERZET (tr.: Resistance) is the latest of our ground-breaking and highly collectible sets of translated short stories from around the world. This time we teamed up with the amazing Manchester-based agency Office of Craig to bring you a new hit of beautifully designed chapbooks to get stuck into. The VERZET series showcases the work of eight exciting, new -- to the English language -- writers from the Netherlands and they are available NOW!
This new list encompasses an impressive array of award winners and nominees including Jamal Ouarichi, Karin Amatmoekrim, and Sanneke van Hassel, as well as newer voices all long overdue or dearly deserving of English language translations. It's a bit like taking a short visit home, for us: our name, Strangers Press, comes from The Strangers of the 16th century -- a group of migrants from the then Spanish Netherlands who enriched the culture and technology of the East Anglian region and whose architectural style even informs our own logo. We like to think this set is a kind of symbolic re-tracing of that journey and one that is fittingly timed. Order yours now, Strangers, and here's to a more diverse Europe and finding our way to being a kinder, more welcoming place.
VERZET was made possible by generous funding from the Dutch Foundation for Literature.
VERZET 1: Reconstruction by Karin Amatmoekrim tr. Sarah Timmer Harvey
Ranging from the speculative ‘Jacques d’Or’ to the fiercely political ‘The Radical’, this collection is a journey through enjoyably contrasted considerations of what kind of world are we collectively creating. Amatmoekrim’s characters are frequently cheerful and entertaining though the writing is also pervasively and expertly threaded with threatening or mournful undertones, which creates a kind of haunting effect -- a sense that all is not well or what it seems.
VERZET 2: Thank You For Being With Us by Thomas Heerma van Voss tr. Moshe Gilula
Two newly translated short stories. In one, a father and son, barely on speaking terms, meet for the first time in years in a TV studio for a live broadcast to discuss a book the son has written about their failed relationship. Their artfully rendered alienations from and frustrations with each other speak of the widening generational gap we are all experiencing. In the other, a troubled voyeur watches from his window as people come and go from a local massage parlour.
VERZET 3: Bergje by Bregje Hofstede tr. Alice Tetley-Paul
Bergje is a moving autobiographical account of a young woman’s voyage of rediscovery into the mountains she visited so often as a child. Now grown and travelling with her partner, past and present collide to create an impressive and engrossing meditation on love and childhood, nostalgia and hope. Multiple journeys take place simultaneously as the writer meditates on interior and exterior realms, human relationships to each other and the world, and the passage of time, in an enjoyably crafted essay.
VERZET 4: The Tourist Butcher by Jamal Ouariachi tr. Scott Emblen-Jarrett
These two stories take unconventional positions within short story archetypes. 'The Tourist Butcher' is a grimly comic tale about a serial killer who prepares his victims for a culinary dish, while 'Memories in Tin Foil' follows the nightmares and existential crises of a psychology student who receives a slice of human brain as a gift from a biologist roommate. Both demonstrate dark or horrifying underworlds in which the reader’s mind might get lost.
VERZET 5: Resist! In Defence of Communism by Gustaaf Peek tr. Brendan Monaghan
This arresting poetic essay explores how capitalism subverts society and our individual and collective welfare. Peek has crafted a passionate call to arms, rich in topical and unexpected metaphors, to inspire a reconnection with the founding principles of a political philosophy concerned with collective good as opposed to individual greed. Freshly relevant in light of recent upheavals, and keenly aware of a sense of new possibility in the air, there is plenty of food for thought for the reader concerned or wanting to be inspired towards how to take reforming steps.
VERZET 6: The Dandy by Nina Polak tr. Emma Rault
A delightful selection of wryly funny stories of modern relationships and queer love. In 'The Sociologist', the author of a self-help book is repeatedly invited to give lectures to ‘debunk love’ but doesn’t really believe any of the things she says. Then 'The Female Dandy' is a fictional journalistic feature about the rise and fall of a lesbian/feminist literary magazine and the performatively stylish, performatively principled three women presiding. 'Remaining Isolde' depicts a couple’s forays into non-monogamy where it soon becomes apparent neither is really happy with their arrangement but feel compelled to pursue it all the same. In 'No Petting' a woman considers her own life while visiting a zoo and 'What Is It You Want to Know?' sees an elderly mother struggle with her grown daughter’s refusal to acknowledge her relationship with another woman.
VERZET 7: Shelter by Sanneke van Hassel tr. Danny Guinan
These short stories address a number of important themes; class, social mobility, multiculturalism, prejudice, loneliness, and urban sprawl, all in a prose style that is atmospheric and wonderfully descriptive. One story centres on the experiences of an immigrant from Cape Verde, while the second and third stories have white, middle-class Dutch as their main characters, then a short finale follows the thoughts of a homeless man as he traverses the city. Collectively they capture a snapshot of contemporary society; each voice yearns, wonders, and worries at the world and their place in it.
VERZET 8: Something Has To Happen by Maartje Wortel tr. Jozef van der Voort
Across three wonderfully written stories, small events have major consequences, and take on symbolic significance, as major events fade. In one, a depressed woman participates as the sole female attendee in a therapeutic lumberjack camp where participants chop wood and engaging in primal scream therapy. Elsewhere, a mother and father mourn the loss of their son, each struggling to cope with his death. Despite the ostensible simplicity of the writing style, this is a voice of delicate complexity, laced with a dry, deadpan humour and deeply humane imagination.
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