Sunk in the book Confettiregen from Splinter Chabot, Madelief Mols (18) hardly seems to realize that the hall is filling up with 3,000 other students. It is the eighteenth edition of De Dag van de Literatuur: the biennial literature festival aimed at upper secondary school students of havo and vwo. The day is organized by Passionate Bulkboek: the Dutch organization in the field of Dutch literature and young people. The decor of the day: De Doelen concert and conference center in Rotterdam. Mols stands out with her canary yellow dress and the bright pink book of Chabot in her hands. When asked if she is a fan of the writer, she says excitedly: “I love Splinter’s writing style! Themes such as identity and lhbtiq+ interest me enormously.” It is the 36th book she read this year. “I hope to get a signature soon.”
State Secretary for Culture and Media, Gunay Uslu, opens the day, after which 76-year-old Adriaan van Dis and 21-year-old spoken word artist Suzanne Krijger compete against each other in a poetry slam. After this, the festival can begin, with many acclaimed and young writers such as Arthur Japin, Tommy Wieringa, Ronald Giphart, Kader Abdolah, Ellen Deckwitz, Abdelkader Benali, Connie Palmen, Lale Gül and Aya Sabi present.
No questions about sex and money
Competition in leisure activities is high. The art disciplines are therefore joining forces: today the aim is to connect films, series, music and theater with literature. There is, among other things, a Book & Film program in which Mano Bouzamour explains how he is bestseller boy a series was made, and where screenwriters of a new film about Anton de Kom, I will be heardto speak.
Students can attend these lectures, but teachers can also register their students to go on the road themselves. They were allowed to interview the other students about their reading habits in the corridors, or they followed a crash course to become a talk show host by writer and presenter Oscar Kocken. In the Willem Burger Zaal, the young ‘talk show hosts’ are allowed to interview the writers. Can they really ask anything? “No definitely not. No questions about sex and money,” says Connie Palmen firmly. There is laughter in the hall. Questions like “How do you become a writer?” and “What distracts you while writing?” come back several times.
A special experience
Students of the Dutch teacher training course at the Hogeschool Windesheim in Zwolle recorded one self-selected sentence from a book that is on the longlist of the Libris Literature Prize and explain what that sentence means to them. The students can listen to this in a silent disco setup. “A little more context is important to make someone enthusiastic about a book. In addition, there is increasing interest in something like audio books,” says Tamar Foget (20).
She doesn’t necessarily think that listening will replace reading. “The auditory and visual are more central these days. Not just for young people, but for everyone. But these young people grow up with this, so we, as teachers of the future, have to work with it,” she explains.
Dutch teacher Gea Boerboom (56) of the Over Betuwe College in Bemmel thinks that meeting writers can also kindle a fire among the students. She has just bought a novel by Murat Isik herself and had the work signed immediately. “Meeting a writer is a special experience.” Charlie Schlatmann (17) from Haarlem agrees. She also wants to hear from the writers themselves what she should read next. “I now mostly read English-language fantasy. There are so many sex scenes in Dutch literature that I find exhausting. Then I stop reading right away,” she says sternly. “Today I am looking for books that do not have that to expand my to-read list with more Dutch literature.”
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper of March 24, 2023