Skip to main content
A life disrupted by feelings of guilt

His Name Is David

Jan Vantoortelboom

Flanders, 1914. David, a young Belgian schoolteacher, stands before the firing squad, sentenced to death for desertion. Days earlier, he was teaching his fellow soldiers in the trenches to read and write, dreaming of a forbidden love back in Elverdinge, the Flemish village where he had worked as a teacher—and where, despite family tragedy, squalid surroundings, the rigid mindsets of the villagers and the malign influence of the Catholic Church, David had tried to create something beautiful. But when he befriended a sensitive young pupil, Marcus Verschoppen, disaster followed.

A book to be unashamedly excited about
NRC Handelsblad

In ‘His Name Is David’ we follow David through two episodes of his life: as a boy of ten and in his early twenties in the First World War. But this is more than a war novel. It is an intimate portrait of a passionate teacher who wishes to inspire those around him to pursue their dreams and not simply resign themselves to the future that is most obvious. At the same time, David himself didn’t have an uneventful past: vice and violence cling to his name every bit as much as goodness and dedication. In ‘His Name Is David’, Jan Vantoortelboom shows how feelings of guilt can disrupt a life.

The images that Vantoortelboom evokes are so powerful that they bring about a deep connection with the one condemned to death
Cobra
Like a late summer’s day: initially lovely and light, but with a blood-red, deeply melancholy sunset at the end
Humo