American in Amsterdam

On the Authors’ Blog of my publisher Bold Strokes Books, I write about how life as an expat led to writing my debut suspense novel Calvin’s Head, which comes out in September. Wow. That’s next month, folks! Check out Events Page for latest news of readings, signings, interviews, etc.

Bold Strokes Books Authors' Blog

By David Swatling

photo-3_2 Amsterdam

I’d been living in Amsterdam for three years when Sting’s “Englishman in New York” hit the airwaves in 1988. The song made it to #9 on the Dutch Top 40 chart, the highest anywhere in the world. I found it somewhat odd. Most people in the Netherlands had no idea who the song was about, while not only did I know, I’d had a nodding acquaintance with the man. When I lived in New York’s East Village, Quentin Crisp and I were neighbors and often passed each other on the street. Much to my regret, we never spoke, though I like to think if I had invited him for a cup of tea he would have graciously accepted.

To be an alien, even a legal alien, always felt strange – in Dutch, vreemd. In fact, the word for foreigners is vreemdelingen. Literally, strangers. I…

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