Flanders Literature's team will be present at the Frankfurt Book Fair (10-14 October). We will be sharing a stand (5.0 C 86) with our colleagues of the Dutch Foundation for Literature. You’ll find our grants managers there, talking to foreign publishers about the very best Flemish authors and illustrators and providing information about funding opportunities for books in translation. This is our selection of recent literature from Flanders. Please contact us for an appointment if you like what you see. We’d love to meet you.
A master of suspense and of the subtle untangling of painful situations *****
Her mother thinks Bianca is a girl that requires special treatment. Her father thinks she is unmanageable. And Bianca herself? She doesn’t say a word. Until one hot afternoon in August, Billie King, her favourite actress, is sitting in the living room, sipping a cup of tea. With Billie King around, Bianca is brave enough to take a decision. Moeyaert creates an oppressive atmosphere, in which smouldering tensions can erupt any moment.
Vereecken captures the harsh reality in poetic sentences. An extraordinarily strong novel ****
Summer 1914. Through the eyes of eleven-year-old Alice we see the increasing alarm among the grownups: war is said to be imminent. Alice’s naivety makes way for a brutal confrontation with reality, but ‘Everything Will Be Fine, Forever’ is first and foremost a celebration of life and hope.
An extremely successful experiment with astute metaphor
According to William Golding, if ‘Lord of the Flies’ were written with girls as the leading characters, they would never lower themselves to barbarism. Van den Broeck demonstrates in this powerful homage to Golding’s classic that this isn’t necessarily true.
Calm Leon takes Otto on a journey through the world of colour. This Encyclopaedia Otto-colorista is a feast for the eyes: after the restrained grey, black and white, the pages are a riot of colour and detail and there is always something new to discover. An abundance of colour you can’t stop looking at.
‘The City of Belgium’ is set in the same nocturnal universe as Brecht Evens’ big breakthrough ‘The Wrong Place’, but the aftertaste is so much nastier. In a riot of colour and impressions, Evens shows himself to be both a master of his uniquely fantastic style and at capturing the mental darkness that masquerades as light-hearted.
Aldo has been twenty-eight for three hundred years. Despite that lengthy period of time, he still does not have very good social skills. His whole family has been dead a long while and nobody believes he is immortal.But then he spots someone on television and recognises him from an encounter two hundred years ago.
‘Before Forgetting' is a dance. A painting of words. A hand touching our sorrow.
Peter Verhelst’s mother dies unexpectedly. He witnesses his father’s grief and must also find his own way of coping. Still, this is neither a book about mothers, nor a book about death, but rather a fervent ode to our floundering, tentative resistance to meaninglessness and sorrow. Verhelst struggles tooth and nail to create something vital—something that could continue to remind us, so that ultimately we can forget.
Astrid is a successful events manager and mother. When her iPhone falls into her son’s bath after a busy day at work, something snaps in her. Impulsively, she walks out of the house and drives out of her residential suburb.
In controlled prose, Peter Terrin sketches a surreal and oppressive portrait of a woman who loses it in an apparently safe and everyday environment.
Shockingly raw and enchanting in equal measure *****
Daughter is a girl with learning disabilities. She does not recognise cruelty, or sexual abuse, when it is done to her, or when she does it to someone else. The events are shocking to the reader, but not to Daughter herself. The disconcerting effect of this contrast is reinforced by the book’s extremely efficient, economical style: brief chapters with short sentences that paint a clear and credible picture of the reasoning of a mentally deficient and vulnerable girl.
Shepherd Yara has only known her grandmother, herbalist Tanne, for a few years. Slowly but surely Yara learns why Tanne’s parents, husband and even her own daughter have turned their backs on her. Meanwhile, Tanne is growing increasingly convinced that the devil is coming for her. A fascinating book that reveals the truth bit by bit and draws the reader into a world of magic.
The pleasure of drawing leaps off the pages, which are packed with jokes
Daddy Monkey and his son are on their way home on the banana bike. But it’s so busy, and everyone’s driving so slowly! And Monkey Junior is in the mood for monkeying about. He escapes from his safety seat and goes off to explore the traffic jam. The street is like a playground! This wordless picture book is full of stories and fantastic details in vibrant colours.
‘Rivers’ is a Peter Goes mix of stories, facts and icons that bring history to life with a sense of wonder and humour
Julia Marshall, publisher Gecko Press
All aboard for a fascinating voyage of discovery in and around the water! In ‘Rivers’ Peter Goes travels to the most famous seas, lakes and rivers across Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa and Oceania. Goes creates playful and extremely detailed double-page spreads in which text and image form a unified whole.
An animal inside an animal inside an animal. Nothing is as it seems in this wordless look-and-find book. Geert Vervaeke plays masterfully with perspectives, compositions and positive and negative space. This book is one big optical illusion inspired by the Rorschach test and optical illusions.
The illustrations are works of art in their own right
Pieter Gaudesaboos has created a colourful series of books about remarkable houses full of surprising animals. ‘My House Is At the Zoo’ and 'A House Full of Friends’ are not merely colourful books for reading aloud, they are look-and-find books to teach children to look more closely at the illustrations. Just the job for true detectives!
Viktor, a recreational hunter, has long dreamt of shooting a cheetah. When he finally manages to, his happiness does not last long. At night, he dreams of the cheetahs that have lost a friend. He is overcome by an unparalleled feeling of empathy and remorse and thinks of a shrewd plan to make amends.
The Father and the Philosopher. Saving the Husserl archives
A story comparable to a novel by Umberto Eco or Dan Brown, except for the fact that it really happened
At first an exciting story about smuggling manuscripts set against the backdrop of the persecution of Jews before and during the Second World War, this book indirectly develops into a history of European philosophy in the twentieth century.
Empathy is the raw material all his books are made of
This is the true story of a fisherman and his daughter, who fled their home country Vietnam some time ago. Hung crossed the ocean in his small fishing vessel to start a new life in a village behind a high sea wall. Quyen opened a successful restaurant, but is now struggling with an identity crisis.
Lieve Joris views half the world as her village. Therein lies the universal and personal power of her books.
Lieve Joris has acquired an international reputation as an author of non-fiction travelogues. For many years she travelled around Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and more recently China, and considered the world to be her village. Now she has returned to Flanders, to Neerpelt, to the house by the canal where she grew up as the middle child in a chaotic family of nine.
Magnificent book that honours all these coloured voices that are so often left out of the narrative
vileine.com (Hadjar Benmiloud)
A unique cultural history of the 1960s as a global phenomenon. This book deals with the usual counterculture suspects and the Flower Power generation, as well as the sensitivities and tastes of what American President Nixon called the Silent Majority. It takes into account the work of artists from Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia in a dazzling overview that puts the Sixties in a new perspective.
Amazigh, a young Moroccan, ends up behind bars after attempting to get his revenge on his French father. There’s only one way he’ll get out of prison: a one-way ticket to the French frontlines in World War I. Rachida Lamrabet tells a story that is forgotten all too often: that of the soldiers from the colonies who were swept up in a war that was not theirs.
Maybe it’s the finest thing by Van de Woestijne that we have
Evening falls, it grows dark, the peasant Nand is lying alone in bed and is cold. Scraps of his life flash by his mind’s eye. ‘The Dying Peasant’ isn’t just an anecdotal peasant novella, but a symbolic tale that excels in its simplicity.
A great stylist, with an eye for detail and a knack for turning brief scenes into little gems
Jadran is five years older than Josh, but his head and his heart are those of a child much younger. When they find an injured young crane one day, Jadran wants to teach it to fly at any cost. The two boys go on a journey that is brave, adventurous and hopeless all at the same time. Poetic and sensitive without ever becoming sentimental.
A beautiful and refreshingly written Christmas story
The unusual premise, Jan De Leeuw’s humour and light-hearted narrative style and the playful illustrations by Mattias De Leeuw make this winter fairy tale so much more than just another adaptation of the Christmas story. It is a book about giving and taking, with a touch of magic.
Emotions distilled in text and image about panic, trust, security and the fear of being abandoned
Bet is tired of her tricyle and wants to start cycling on a proper bike. But nobody is prepared to teach her. She is angry with everything and everyone. This intense and authentic book, with a style that borders on expressionism, earned Gregie De Maeyer the Flemish State Prize for Youth Literature.