Reviewed by Elizabeth Joss
How To Be Orange is an entertaining account of Greg Shapiro‘s expat life in The Netherlands. Shapiro, a comedian well known for his performances at Boom Chicago Comedy Theatre, Comedy Central and VARA HumorTV, sheds light on the oddities of Dutch culture in his new book.
Not only does he describe hilarious and out-of-the-ordinary experiences but he also highlights his own eccentricities as an American somewhat out of place in the land of tulips and bicycles.
Shapiro’s use of satire is evident from the very subtitle: ‘An Alternative Dutch Assimilation Course’. In fact, the book itself was inspired by his stage show ‘How to Be Orange: Making the Dutch Take Their Own Assimilation Course,’ together with his observations of the Dutch culture over the past twenty years as an expat.
Furthermore, How to Be Orange subjectively touches on many aspects of Dutch culture. Everything from tiny round-lens reading glasses worn by the Dutch to the oddly designed platform toilet is brought to the forefront. Topics include ‘Dutch Culture for Dummies,’ general culture shock, multiculturalism, politics, education and even Dutch customer service.
Shapiro pokes fun at Dutch-isms but he also pokes fun at himself, his own assimilation and also his own use of the language, which he describes as ‘Google Translate Dutch’.
Lastly, the book is filled with amusing photographs of Dutch shop signs, Dutch products, images of general daily life together and even colourful cartoon-like illustrations, all of which make for a light-hearted read.
How to Be Orange concludes with an assimilation exam using similar questions taken from the ‘Nationale Inburgerings Test’ (questions that even the Dutch themselves fail to answer, says Shapiro). You can test yourself at the end, have a good laugh at the answers, and then ponder how well you too have assimilated into Dutch culture.
You Review a Local Author: Books with an orange connection, reviewed by ABC customers.