Flanders Literature helps publishers and festival organisers find that one particular title or author that is the perfect fit for their list or audience. So take a good look around, we present a selection of the finest literature from Flanders. If you like what you see, please get in touch with us for further information.
Alex Berger, a rather unusual private detective, was chief of police in Brussels in an earlier existence. Now he leads a solitary life and regularly heads out into the natural world. Berger is on a retreat in the Italian Alps when inspector and friend Sara Cavani of Interpol asks him to come back to help investigate a gruesome murder. Alex hesitates, but eventually takes the bait.
Manon and Max, along with their teenage daughter Noah and poodle Kim, seem to be the perfect hipster family. A combination of money and taste has persuaded them to buy a crumbling mansion with ‘great potential’. Beneath the banality, madness lurks. De Coster dissects contemporary relationships in all their manifestations, a minefield in which she is able to exhibit her comic talents.
Thirty-nine-year-old actress Ada presents a theatrical monologue that she has written, in the city where she completed her theatre training years before. It is also the place where her former drama teacher, who she had a relationship with as a student, lives. In Maaike Neuville's semi-autobiographical debut, a woman dares to speak out and honestly investigates where her own boundaries and those of others lie, whilst considering what responsibility comes with a position of power.
If this doesn’t get you to read, you might as well give up.
Unpopular eleven-year-old Jimmy's luck changes when a new boy arrives in the class. Tristan Ibrahimi is a refugee from Kosovo and Jimmy throws himself into the coaching of his new friend. When the Ibrahimi family receives a deportation letter, Tristan thinks up a plan in which Jimmy will play a crucial role. Born storyteller Lize Spit unfolds the plot of this topical and moving novella in an extremely exciting way.
It’s as if you’ve picked up a book by Patrick Modiano.
‘Incomplete’ is an intimate novel about the stories we tell. Those we use to build our identities, those about origins and kinship; truth and lies; and hope and disappointment. Like a Flemish Graham Swift, travelling back and forth between sympathetic melancholy and empathetic humour, Bogaert writes about loss and longing and succeeds in making his characters into real people - vulnerable, but at the same time strong enough to withstand some friction.
As if Vereecken is writing with a brush in her hand, so precise, apposite and original.
Jan and Hubrecht van Eyck are world famous, but few people know that they also had a sister who painted. In this novel, Margriete van Eyck is given the spotlight that she deserves. Vereecken reconstructs the life she might have led and brings to life the story behind 'The Ghent Altarpiece', one of the world’s most iconic paintings.
One of the increasingly rare writers who still shamelessly regards literature as an artform
DE STANDAARD ****
Kasper Kind is a solitary bioengineer who has been placed in charge of a small stretch of woodland that is suffering at the hands of climate change. He is on the point of committing a murder on the public figure Max de Man: a man among men, an intellectual fraud, a moralistic drip. Humour, social criticism, and rich language are ingeniously brought together by Yves Petry in this compelling monologue, with its unforgettable denouement.
‘The Smells of the Cathedral’ by art historian Wendy Wauters takes us to one of the hotspots of the sixteenth century: the Church of Our Lady, Antwerp’s ‘cathedral’ ever since 1559. This majestic building was the beating heart of the city, where intensely religious parishioners crossed paths with dogcatchers, pilgrims, and livestock dealers. Religious serenity was sometimes hard to find inside it.
Truly an example of art-historical research of the highest order.
After eight years of research, Geert Sels has put together the pieces of the puzzle that he found in archives in Paris, The Hague, Koblenz, and the major Belgian cities. Through persistent detective work, he has discovered how the art was taken. He concludes that collectors, dealers, and auction houses showed little restraint in going along with the Nazis' plan to acquire the art.
What kind of book is ‘The Encyclopaedia of the Fall’? A case apart, certainly.
Nobody escapes gravity. Planet earth is governed by laws that pull us down, ultimately into the grave. Desires meet with an equally inauspicious end. In the Bible, hunger for knowledge leads to the Fall, while Icarus’s urge to fly finds its fulfilment on the seabed. In this brimful book, farce and tragedy alternate at great speed.
Erudite, adventurous and lucid reflections on climate, democracy, identity and more.
If there is one line that’s been reverberating in Stefan Hertmans’ mind for years, it’s a well-known quote from Victor Klemperer, written with a steady hand in his famous journals during the Nazi period, amid terror and uncertainty: ‘The contemporary witness knows nothing.’
Peter Venmans continually succeeds in taking his readers with him in a way that is attractive and accessible.
Every day we are somebody’s guest or host. We travel abroad, visit friends, or welcome new staff to our organization. Hospitality is omnipresent. At the same time, some say we are experiencing the end of hospitality. As a result of mass tourism, the rise of the hospitality industry and the Covid-19 pandemic, the spontaneous cordiality of times past is said to have been replaced by commercial considerations, pragmatism and prescribed codes of conduct.
The few but beautifully chosen words support the magical pictures, in exactly the way that the friends are a powerful support to each other.
A girl looks out of the window, bored. She’s searching for something, even though she doesn’t know what. Suddenly, she hears the flap of wings. She goes outside, curious, and meets Bird and Fox.
'Fox, Bird and Me’ is a hopeful tale about the power of friendship, and it shows how we can overcome difficulties with the help of others. But it can also be read as a book that calls for a revaluation of nature and pays attention to mental wellbeing: a book about life itself.
Inspiring stories and beautiful illustrations make this book a real treat.
Voor uitgelezen kinderen
In ‘And They Lived’, Baeten presents an alternative reading of four well-known fairytales in which the female characters take the helm. Visually too, this book breaks with the classic approach to fairytale princesses. The colourful, atmospheric pictures with their wealth of diverse characters fill the pages.
A delightful book to read aloud on cold, wet days.
Crocodile Maurice ends up in a wood by accident. All animals quickly become fond of his cheerful company. But when a storm comes, he’s left behind, alone. What’s more, all the animals soon forget their new friend. Fortunately there’s Mole. Friendship and sociability, fleeing and finding refuge, and the beauty of caring for each other are central in this colourful picture book.
Not just for those who need such tender solace but for everyone else too, young and old. Highly recommended.
When Yule’s mother dies unexpectedly, everything around her feels different, sterile and cold, as if the house and everyone in it are suddenly made of glass. Only warm memories help Yule little by little to escape from her glass house full of sorrow. ‘Forever Close By’ is a book that brings warmth and comfort after the loss of a parent. The sensitive writing is strong in its simplicity, the powerful poetic sentences fitting seamlessly with the fascinating illustrations.
Van Der Veken’s line is so sharp that his world is beautifully streamlined.
THE NEW YORKER ON ‘FABRICA GRAFICA’
Jan Van Der Veken plunges with panache into the history and technological developments of space flight. With his fantastic retro-futurist drawings he proves himself an extraordinary illustrator with a style all his own. This nonfiction title for astronauts-to-be is once again an impressive achievement of graphic design.
Mira adopts a rescue dog called Turbo, a hopeless case. She recognizes herself in the dog’s trauma and fears, and decides to look more deeply into Turbo’s old life: she sets out in search of the hunter who brought him up the hard way. A powerful novel in Marita de Sterck’s unmistakable style.
Simply brilliant. A cathartic book that needs to be experienced
Raaf has had a bad day at school and yet again his mother has disappeared. So when the bell goes, he decides not to head straight home. He turns left instead of right. It’s the start of a remarkable road trip. Evelien De Vlieger interweaves a light adventure with an underlying layer of darkness in a way that is quite extraordinary.
An impressive, improbable yet nevertheless true story
Het Belang van Limburg
In ‘Galapagos’ Michaël Olbrechts portrays what has become known as the Galapagos affair, the unsolved mystery of what happened in the early 1930s on Floreana that led to three deaths and two disappearances. Olbrechts’ exceptional insight into the human psyche dazzles once again.
In this first part of a forthcoming trilogy, Luc Cromheecke draws part of the life story of the famous impressionist painter Claude Monet as it has never been seen before. Without words but with plenty of humour, Cromheecke gives a unique interpretation to events.
In this tragicomic tale, Inne Haine and Mathias Van den Berge interweave the lives of a handful of villagers who, like so many, yearn for a different life. How far are they prepared to go to achieve their dream? A wonderful combination of evocative, colourful illustrations and a carefully crafted script.
This raw, semi-autobiographical debut tells the story of the unnamed protagonist’s childhood and a night with his former lover. It takes the reader through an emotional landscape that’s reminiscent of Ocean Vuong and Douglas Stuart. In cinematic scenes, Angelo Tijssens depicts the pain and longing of a life spent searching.
A refined mix of biographical facts and accessible philosophizing about relationships, sex, politics and society.
Writer, actor, singer-songwriter and philosopher Stefaan Van Brabandt brings Sartre & de Beauvoir into the limelight. An accessible reflection on two greats of philosophy whose ideas and lives are intertwined for ever. ‘Sartre and de Beauvoir’ distils the two role models of existentialist philosophy to their essence.
A warm and humorous family portrait that’s brimming with love.
Lieve Joris is an internationally renowned writer of non-fiction books about the Arab world, Africa, Eastern Europe and China. After writing about her much-admired and maligned brother Fonny in ‘Return to Neerpelt’, she revisits her family history in ‘Hildeke’. Her parents’ growing care needs pull her back to the Flanders of her youth: the mother she barely knew and the difficult father who was preoccupied with his prodigal son and who goes by the nickname ‘The Creator’.
This is a major work by Jeroen Theunissen, one of our best wordsmiths. Impressive.
David Van Reybrouck
When he was around twenty, Jeroen Theunissen came across a map of Europe in a travel agency, with thick purple lines marking long-distance hikes. When, many years later, the writer starts suffering from anxiety attacks and depression and feels melancholic and trapped in an unhappy marriage, he leaves everything and everyone behind, including his two children, and embarks on a six-month walk from Southwest Ireland to the Bosporus Strait.
In her latest book, Caro Van Thuyne draws on her unique voice to address another theme that’s close to her heart: the natural world. Some time ago, Caro withdrew from hectic urban life and moved to Houtland, near the Flemish coast. There she lives and writes surrounded by nature.
In 1950s Hollywood, Newland Archer and May Welland are the glamour couple du jour. But Newland soon discovers that he’s not entirely immune to the charms of one of May's male friends. With ‘Bungalow 5’, Maarten Vande Wiele breathes new life into ‘The Age of Innocence’ by Edith Wharton.
1792. Pierre-Marie Dragon is a mounted infantryman in the French revolutionary army. With this character, Juncker and Spruyt lift the anti-hero to an entirely new level. Oversexed, arrogant and gutless yet full of himself, Dragon Dragon is the undisputed star of this grotesque, picaresque narrative.
Tenderly and mercilessly, Sabi gives voice to three generations in a breath-taking novelistic debut.
In this family chronicle that takes the reader from sunny Casablanca to the chilly Netherlands, three women of different generations speak to us. From these three perspectives, each with its own narrative register, ‘Half a Life’ investigates the problem of how to live as a (Moroccan) woman, mother, daughter, grandmother, wife, widow and loved one. With love and empathy, Sabi portrays the lives of the women who have gone before her.
Another gorgeous Timmers spectacle, full of captivating details.
Four ducks get bored of their little pond. ‘Come on, we’re going to the lake!’ decides one of the four fearlessly. Erik walks at the back of the group and cautiously expresses his doubts. The lake? Doesn’t a terrible monster live there? Unimpressed by Erik’s objections, the group continues undaunted, off on an adventure. In ‘The Monster Lake’, Leo Timmers demonstrates once again what makes him unique as an illustrator.
A collaboration between two gifted artists which resulted in a magnificent picture book.
Right from the very first sentence, ‘From Looking Came Seeing’ submerges the reader in the sense of loss felt by a woman whose husband has gone from her life for ever. Godon, with characteristic brilliance, portrays the loneliness, emptiness or aimlessness that his departure brings with it. In a soft, carefully considered palette, she closes down and opens out the woman’s world. Without doubt both a homage and an invitation to the human gaze.
A tender tale, chronicling the ever-complex quest of an adolescent boy coming of age
The Cyclades, five thousand years ago. Atan has an extraordinary gift for modelling clay. During his training as a sculptor, the boy is forced to abandon his creativity to concentrate on skill and technique, until his master recognises that Atan’s muse must not be silenced. 'Atan of Kea' is a touching and intimate story, that proves, yet again, that Vanistendael is a peerless story-teller.
A compelling historical adventure full of exciting, filmic scenes. Van Rijckeghem proves yet again that he’s one of the best writers in the genre.
Denmark, 870 AD. Yrsa is a tough Viking girl with a club foot who won’t let herself be pushed around. She is tasked with looking after a Christian hostage, but the two girls and everything they believe in couldn’t be more different. ‘Daughter of Doom’ is a cinematic adventure novel in which two women hold their own at a time when this was anything but a given. A remarkable book about fate, faith and free will, in vivid language.
A literary masterpiece. ‘Morris’ is Moeyaert at his best.
Morris climbs a mountain to fetch his grandmother's dog safely home for the hundredth time when a snowstorm catches them by surprise. Moeyaert depicts Morris, with masterly precision, as a loner who carries sadness within him and at the same time – almost to his own surprise – doesn’t let anyone mess him about. Sebastiaan Van Doninck's illustrations bring warmth and colour into the snow-white cold of the story.
His new book ‘Listen’ cracks open your listening habits
Did you ever listen to Hindustani Dhrupad music, a Gisalo from Papua New Guinea or the chants of the Blackfoot people? Does it mean anything to you to listen to a piece of music that lasts 639 years? Followed by the noise experiments of Maso Yamazaki? Or do you think that this is not music?
Nelle is a dreamer. She likes school, but Mr Bart less so. In turn, the school teacher isn’t crazy about children. Nelle’s parents don’t have a lot of money, but by chance Nelle is able to buy a ticket for the school raffle. The most incredible thing happens: Nelle wins the first prize, a trip to a sun-drenched island for her and her parents.
Saved! is a compelling picture book, full of beautiful details, which invites our imagination to examine the effects of global warming. ****
Arend is born in a nest on an ice floe. The sun never sets there, which at first Arend finds rather pleasant. But then the ice melts and the nest slides into the cold sea. Arend acknowledges defeat. He takes to the air, spreads his wings and lets the wind carry him along. From the sky, however, Arend can see that the water is rising. Soon all the animals will drown, he thinks. Somebody must do something, but who?
'Bodies' is one of the best things Verhelst has written.
A man leaves on a voyage of discovery to forbidden territory. He roams a post-apocalyptic no man’s land, in which nature seems to have defeated humankind. ‘Bodies’ reads like a meeting between personal and global trauma, perhaps the result of climate change. Verhelst forces the reader to reflect upon all that we are in danger of losing. More than a dystopian tale, ‘Bodies’ is an ode to language, the imagination and the telling of stories.
You don’t need metaphorical excesses when you can write like Peter Terrin. *****
'The Event’ is a masterful frame story in which tales of love, loss and growing older subtly flow into one another. At the centre are Willem, a bestselling author, and Juliette, his assistant. The writer has become almost blind towards the end of his life and he dictates his novels to Juliette. After his death, Willem leaves the recordings for his final novel to his beloved assistant, along with the task of finishing the book. Following its publication, Femke, Willem’s young wife, takes Juliette to court. Willem has the final word, after his consciousness is digitally reproduced by scientists.
A tight and funny play that unerringly rips apart the patriarchal rhetorical conjuring tricks of our politicians and other media personalities
‘Uproar’ manages to capture the debate over feminism in lightning fast and quick-witted dialogues. It is an incisive story with contemporary relevance that feels both absurd and almost alienating at the same time.
In this moving and sometimes funny dual coming-of-age story, Ben Gijsemans presents us with extraordinary page compositions that offer a wonderful insight into the relationship between Harold and Carl. The two brothers want only the best for each other, but burgeoning hormones disturb the harmony between them. A magnificent portrayal of the tension between child and adolescent in the 1990s.
A delightfully designed period thriller that can both speak to a broad public and a connoisseur of graphic novels
François is a driver for a dry-cleaning business. When he suddenly comes upon a gruesome scene and spots a chance to grab a bagful of money, it proves his downfall. In panoramic spreads that highlight faded glory, Joris Mertens creates a universe all his own. Its noir atmosphere is offset by the tragicomic aspect that Mertens has given his antihero. A beautifully crafted graphic novel.
Tom Lanoye brings together three closely connected lives in Flanders at the time of the Second World War. Alex, a gifted theatre director and actor, his wife, Jewish star actress Lea Liebermann, and his brother Rik Desmedt, also a director and founder of the Flemish SS. 'The Turntable' is a timeless novel in which the author mercilessly exposes the inner workings of a European war.
Over a period of forty years, master con artist Piet Van Haut has presented himself as director of Johnson & Johnson, as an examining magistrate, and as the CEO of Belgian Railways. He has thereby stolen millions. Inghels not only tells the story of a real-life swindler, but also recounts his own adventures in writing a book about that criminal. He plays an interesting game with the boundary between fact and fiction. A shocking story about heroism, vanity, greed, ambition and manipulation, not just on the part of the con artist but on the part of the author too.
An entertaining excursion into the extraordinary world of English-language literature
'Even today, most of those who talk about literature are elderly white professors. We must introduce new perspectives, fresh views of the classics. We urgently need to make literature more accessible, so that the canon will change from the outside,’ claimed Ibe Rossel in a popular podcast. With her nonfiction debut she has acted on her own advice. Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen and George Eliot are great names in English literature, but for many readers they amount to no more than a distant memory of English lessons. After all, what does a dead author have to offer us today?
‘Breakers’ is a compact, visually oriented novella with a dash of magic realism.
Five lifeless bodies wash up on a beach close to a couple’s home, followed not long afterwards by the body of a child. From that moment on, everything between the man and woman who live in the beachside house will be different. Their safe world belongs to the past, now that the refugee issue has disturbed their harmonious world. Torn between guilt and impotence, the man and woman drift further and further apart until their relationship hits the rocks.
The atmosphere is vaguely reminiscent of Ben Lerner, Samuel Beckett and also the early Peter Handke.
Sibel, Ömer and Wernicke all live illegally at Istanbul airport. They symbolize a new generation of adults who do not feel at home in the countries where they were born, nor in their parents’ native lands. In this sensitive debut novel, language and the inability to understand one another are central, as is the impossibility of feeling truly at home if you are unable to speak your mother tongue.