Mineke Schipper
Mineke Schipper

MINEKE SCHIPPER was professor of intercultural literary studies at the University of Leiden. Her previous books, novels and works of non-fiction have been published in the UK, USA, France, and Germany. She’s now writing full time and holds various visiting professorships, for example in China.


covered or uncovered: from naked to suited up
Covered or Uncovered

When our first ancestors began to walk on two legs instead of four, they gained a new perspective on each other's physicality. Gradually people invented their own dress codes for men and women. In traditional Japan an uncovered female neck was disapproved of, in Victorian England a heel had to be invisible and in the Middle East women's feet were usually considered to be less problematic than women's hair. Naked arms or legs or breasts are not surprising to those who are used to them, but in the eyes of those who walk around completely covered a glance at such uncovered body parts may be shocking. Throughout history cultures and religions developed specific rules to control unruly nakedness, but in times of globalisation we are all confronted with a variety of perspectives on 'normal dress'. We live in a world of shouting advertisers, provoking fashionistas and increasing protests against the slightest bit of uncovered skin.

Prometheus NL

(Publication: May 2015)


Material: Dutch text; English translation under way.

ADAMS AND EVES EVERYWHERE: The First People in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Adams and Eves Everywhere

Adam and Eve are the first ancestors in the shared creation stories of Jews, Christians and Muslims. Spreading out from the Middle East the three religions took their own versions around the world, via rabbis, priests, imams, colonialists, missionaries, migrants and modern media. Popular stories about Adam and Eve, which don't appear in the Bible, lived on through oral story-telling. Where was Paradise located? Did Adam have a beard? Was he circumcised? Did Adam and Eve have a navel? Did they have sex in the Garden of Eden? How did Satan get into Paradise? The how and why of creation, Paradise, the snake and the Fall has inspired story-tellers and artists from every corner

of the earth. Mineke Schipper has written an intriguing book

about the stories and images of the three religions, often unknown,

for contemporary believers and non-believers, for all curious

descendants of Adam and Eve.


Prometheus NL


Ayrinti Turkey

Material: finished copies of Dutch edition (285pp); complete English text.

IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS NO ONE: How the First People Came into the World
Creation Myths Cover

Where did the first people come from? Were they thrown out of heaven – or did they crawl up out of the earth? Did God make them because he was lonely? Were we made out of nothing? Or from gods’ sweat, seed or tears, or possibly from silver, gold, stone or clay? There was no one around to take notes but stories tell us what really happened. Those stories also explain why there are men and women. All cultures answer universal questions about the beginnings of mankind – in orthodox, unorthodox often hilarious genesis stories. For the first time these answers are collected together in a unique book, profound fears can be read between the lines. And the echoes of old myths resonate in today’s human interactions.


Prometheus NL

Sansuya Korea

Aletheia Poland

Libri Hungary

Hara Shobo Japan

Material: English and Dutch text ready.

AFTER US, THE FLOOD: Mythical tales about the end of mankind

Since the beginning of time people have told stories about how the world will end. If the world had a beginning it will surely also have an end. Floods, fire, gods wiping humans off the face of the earth because of over-crowding, bad behaviour by us humans, arguments between gods…

Looking at various cultures from around the world Mineke tells us these apocalyptic stories. Many common themes occur and the way the ancients envisaged our demise has eerie echoes today. From a story-teller and cultural anthropologist at the height of her powers, comes this fascinating book.


Prometheus NL

Material: Dutch edition (171pp), English sample.

Vogel Valt Vogel Vliegt

Mineke Schipper is a successful novelist as well as a writer of fascinating non-fiction books. Her new novel stars Laura and Daniel, both around 50 years old, both academics (he a professor of Classics, she a specialist in ancient cultures, in particular stories of Paradise), both in their own different ways beginning life anew. Daniel because he has never really lived and through his journey in the novel finds a way to leave his traumas behind. Laura because she finally breaks away from the memory of her dead husband, the great love of her life and famous war photographer Robert. Drawing powerful parallels between Vietnam and the war in Iraq (Daniel is a Vietnam veteran) this is a tale about love, loss, parting, new beginnings, lust for life, art and knowledge and stories to live by.

‘An absorbing story of the growth of adult love, and the letting go of past love, in the shadow of America's imperial wars.’ J. M. Coetzee

'A woman travels to the Mekong River to scatter the ashes of her beloved. On the way she befriends an American Vietnam veteran. A novel from the literature academic Mineke Schipper about letting go and starting again. Schipper made her mark recently with the award winning “Never marry a woman with big feet” (2004), a unique reference book with more than 15,000 humiliating proverbs about women from the whole world.' NRC

“Life felt like an empty waiting room where I had to sit without it ever being my turn.” This is how the main character of this novel experiences life after the death of her husband. Because she has to scatter his ashes in the Mekong, she travels with the urn to Asia. There she meets Daniel, a Vietnam veteran, whose son shortly after dies in Baghdad. A clear, subtly narrated novel about mourning. MS also wrote:”Never marry a woman with big feet” about the woman in proverbs.' Trouw


Prometheus NL

Material: finished copies of Dutch edition.

NEVER MARRY A WOMAN WITH BIG FEET: Women in proverbs from around the World
Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet


Also nominated in the Eureka Furore Category - Best Female Achievement

The Sena in Malawi and Mozambique have a proverb: 'Never marry a wife with bigger feet than your own.' And the Chinese have an astonishingly similar message. In cultures all over the world, the ideal woman has been depicted in proverbial form - in the author's words, 'the world's smallest literary genre'. This extensive corpus of proverbs from 245 languages delineates the feminine ideal and vilifies her fear-inducing counterpart - the talented, intelligent, powerful, defiant, or occult woman.

Proverbs perpetuate contrasting views of men and women. Men are inexorable tyrants, shameless profiteers, as well as insecure, fearful beings. Women are lamentable victims, and yet extremely powerful. These contradictions are exposed directly and surreptitiously in proverbs, a language in which very little appears to change and yet change is constant as male and female roles and domains become increasingly integrated.

Structured to represent the focus of the proverb genre, NEVER MARRY A WOMAN WITH BIG FEET collates and draws global conclusions from the experience of woman both interculturally and physically – women's bodies, both in terms of different parts of the body and its beautification; phases of life, from girls to brides, wives, co-wives, widows, mother-in-law, grandmothers; women's basics of life, such as love, sex, pregnancy and childbirth; female power. This is a stylish critical anthology, a unique and incomparable resource.

'The great eighteenth-century Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico believed that despite all the cultural differences, there must be 'a mental language common to all nations' that made communication possible among different nations, and he found proof of this common language in the numerous comparable proverbs and maxims discernible everywhere in the world. With her excellent book, Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet: Women in Proverbs from around the World, Professor Mineke Schipper not only offers a wealth of textual evidence of the existence of such a common language, but also enables us to understand and appreciate women's lives, ideas, and wisdom that show a certain universal significance in their very social and cultural diversity. This makes a remarkable contribution to women's studies, and to the study of comparative and world literature.' Zhang Longxi, Chair Professor of Comparative Literature and Translation, City University of Hong Kong

'Schipper's prose is light, fast-paced and witty, and her analysis of what lies behind the proverbs is completely gripping.' Sunday Telegraph

'...no one who casually picks it up will be able to put it down, as gems of inspired sayings, bon mots, zanyjokes, and insightful analyses leap out of every page.' Wendy Doniger, University of Chicago

'This is an entertaining, adroit examination of how far woman has come in man's estimation, and how far she still has to go.' Publishers Weekly

'[A] fascinating analysis of more than 15,000 proverbs...an engrossing book.' Times Literary Supplement

'...a lively and sharply pointed book... Feminist authors and teachers will be analyzing and gratefully quoting her material for at least a generation.' National Post, Canada

‘A fine contribution to the cosmopolitan conversation that ought to come with globalization.’ K. Anthony Appiah, Princeton University

'...enthralling, amusing and alarming in equal measures.' Conscience Magazine

Also shortlisted for the Katharine Briggs Folklore Award 2004

Here are some example proverbs, many more of which can be found in NEVER MARRY A WOMAN WITH BIG FEET:

A husband at home is like a flea in your ear. (Spanish, Chile)
No evil is as bad as a mother-in-law. (Greek)
Free of her lips, free of her hips. (English)
The thicker the veil, the less it’s worth lifting. (Turkish)
Woman may govern heart and pan, cup and head are for the man. (German)
God protect us from hairy women and beardless men. (Arabic)
Women reason with the womb. (Italian)
An old man who marries a young woman buys a newspaper for others to read it. (Portuguese, Brazil)
Every woman is beautiful in the dark, from a distance, and under an umbrella. (Japanese)
She who offers a half-cooked meal is better than she who offers her buttocks. (Rwanda)
One lame son is more valuable than eighteen golden daughters. (China)
A woman’s heart sees more than men’s eyes (Swedish)
The mouth is a rose, and the tongue a thorn. (Hungarian)
A fat woman is a quilt for the winter. (Multani, India)
A pretty face is a punishment. (Estonia)




Yale University Press (hardback UK and USA)

Prometheus NL

Oceano World Spanish

Eichborn Verlag Germany

Dar el Shorouk Egypt (Arabic Language rights)

Partvonal Kiado Hungary

Bertrand Brazil

Bookscope Korea

Sextante Editora Portugal

Editions Philippe Rey France

NTV Yayuncilik Turkey

Croatian Philological Society Croatia

English language ebook and paperback Leiden University Press

Ponte Alle Grazie Italy

Previous Sales (Rights Reverted):

Spectrum NL

Material: finished copies (422pp unabridged; 350pp abridged).