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News Archive

Book review: Not Before Sundown (Do trolls really exist?)

Tilburg Expat Book Club

by Essi Koskela

27 Aug 2020. tíc book club’s summer reading Not before Sundown by Johanna Sinisalo is a reimagined story from a classic Finnish song, The Goblin and the Ray of Light.

We started our discussion session by listening to this sweet and melodic piece, before we immersed ourselves into the darker themes portrayed in the book. is a dark satire of Mikael, or Angel, a freelance photographer working in advertising, who adopts a young, abandoned troll from the streets of Tampere city. It turns out that trolls do not make good pets. Pessi, the troll, secretes intoxicating pheromones which produce an insidious effect on Mikael and everyone around him. The symbolism behind the power-battle of Pessi‘s influence and the civilized world around Mikael made an excellent discussion point, as Mikael starts to struggle with the beast within. With the words of the author herself: ‘the book deals with themes bigger than life: the relationship between man and nature; the problems of different kinds of otherness; and how our biological ancestry as hierarchical pack animals still affects us.’

Although the book is classified into science fiction or fantasy, only the existence of the endangered and rarely seen Tilburg Expat Book Clubtrolls separates the world in the story from reality. In fact, the writer has constructed such convincing pseudo-scientific biological origin for the troll species accompanied with numerous (real) references to Finnish literature and folklore about the trolls that it was easy to believe in the existence of trolls. Arguably trolls have been very much real in the Finnish way of life before modern civilisation finally reached all the far corners of wilderness in the country, and remnants of those beliefs are still reflected in the language and children’s imagination. One of Sinisalo’s reference books, “Memories from Lapland” by Samuli Paulaharju, from 1922, which I happened to have by chance, dedicates a whole chapter to trolls. From this book, I shared the divine origin story of trolls, fabricated in the typical half-pagan way of the Finns. As it turns out, trolls are the secret children of Adam and Eve, which God condemned to live underground after Eve wrongfully hid them.

The creation aside, religion is another prominent topic in the book, already given away by the heavenly name of Angel. I dare to say, the writer creates a juxtaposition between chaste protestant tradition and the biological beastly nature of human beings. We were not sure what to make out of this, as the story does not seem to resolve in favor of the other. Although in the case of Mikael, nature takes over.

Those of us who had completed the book agreed that it was an odd but delightful reading experience. Deceptively short with only 214 pages, Sinisalo’s story seemed to contain yet another layer in chapters unwritten. What happened to Mikael in the end? Why did the trolls take him among them? Was Palomita (the human-trafficked mail-order wife of Mikael’s neighbor) rescued? And most importantly, are trolls real and where can we find them?

Tour of LocHal and WWII Expo review

by Mala Raman

07 Mar 2020. Right behind the Tilburg Central Station in the Spoorzone, is an old industrial locomotive hall that has been transformed into a cutting edge library, The LocHal. The repair center from the 1930s has been converted into a modernist design filled with glass, stunning wooden staircases and light-filled, open-plan spaces all housed within the steel beams of the original locomotive center.

Our group of tíc members met here to explore this innovative building. The World Architecture Festival named the LocHal “2019 World Building of the Year”.
(more…)

Book Club review: Dark Matter

by Anne van Oorschot

28.05.2020. Our second Virtual Book Club gathering had members joined in by Zoom. I found it an interesting and different read and was curious to see what others thought of it.

‘Are you happy in your life?’ Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he wakes to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

While not everyone liked the book – it gave ample opportunity for discussion. (more…)

Join Book Club!

Are you up for a good discussion with a group of friendly book-lovers? Would you like to expand your reading horizons by reading a book you may not have chosen yourself? Do you want to spend a relaxed evening chatting about a book, and often many other life topics, with a cup of tea, coffee or perhaps glass of wine in your hand? Join tíc’s Book Club where we meet up approximately once every 6 weeks to discuss the latest book pick by the group. (more…)

#FBF: Boys in the Boat book review

boys-in-the-boat

Next week we will be meeting for our next book club; a gathering that sometimes has intense debates, but is always a lot of fun. For #FlashBackFriday, let’s take a look at a book club review from 2016!

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by Anne van Oorschot

27 Sept 2016. The first meeting of tíc readers starting with chatting about summer vacations (and the first debate of the US Presidential election!) and then we settled down to talk about The Boys in the Boat.  This non-fiction book, written by Daniel James Brown (not to be confused with the Dan Brown of The Divinci Code) is about the 8 man rowing shell from University of Washington that went on to become the US’s Olympic entry in the controversial 1936 Berlin Olympics – Hitler’s Olympics!

The story is told mainly from (more…)

Book Review: The Lost Girls of Paris

by Yolonda van Riel

08 Jan 2020. We had a small but enthusiastic group for book club as we gathered to discuss The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff. The story centered around a curious, young widow named Grace who finds an abandoned briefcase in Grand Central Station right after WWII. She removed photos taken of 10 young women from the case and began a quest to find out the story behind the photographs.

Each chapter of the book (more…)

#TBT: Book Club review of The Japanese Lover

Next week we will be meeting for our next book club; a gathering that sometimes has intense debates, but is always a lot of fun. For #ThrowbackThursday, let’s take a look at a book club review from 2017!

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review by Anne van Oorschot

31 May 2017. On the last day of May this year, loyal members of TIC’s Book Club met to discuss our latest book, The Japanese Lover, by Isabel Allende. We were fortunate to have nice weather, which allowed us to sit outside and enjoy the peaceful spring evening. (more…)

Book Review: Becoming

review by Renata Kenda

21 Oct. 2019. It was a rainy autumn evening, when we gathered to discuss our latest book “Becoming” by Michelle Obama. We had a fruitful discussion while enjoying the drinks and tasty nibbles next to a warm fireplace.

All of us joining this book club session liked the book, even those, who were not very in favor of

(more…)

Book review: Slaughterhouse 5

by Anne van Oorschot

3 Sept 2019. Our first gathering of the Book Club took place on September 4th – very early in the club year and prior to the tíc Welcome Event. That may explain why we were quite a small group, including 1 brand new member. We had all read the book – not hard since we’d had the entire summer and it was quite a short story.

As a young man and a prisoner of war, Kurt Vonnegut witnessed the 1945 US fire-bombing of Dresden in Germany, which reduced the once beautiful city to rubble and claimed the lives of thousands of its citizens. This atrocious act was (more…)

#TBT book review of Fear and Trembling

We’ll meet in September for our first book club of the new tíc season; a gathering that sometimes has intense debates, but is always a lot of fun. For #ThrowbackThursday, let’s take a look at a book club review from a few years ago!

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2 May 2017 reviewed by Anne-Lise Artaud. This month’s book got quite exotic as we read about a very familiar and close topic to us, expats. Fear and Trembling by Amélie Nothomb was a very interesting book about expatriation, how to deal with it, how to survive it and make the best out of it. We were able to discuss the struggles and advantages of living an expat life. Maybe nothing as exotic as Japanese expatriation, but even if the Netherlands is a welcoming country, we still all had some struggles to face with this new culture and some adapting to do. (more…)

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