Flanders Literature's team will be present at the Frankfurt Book Fair (16-19 October). You will find our grants managers in Hall 5.0 at stand C74-75, 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.
Penelope is a surgeon on the Syrian front. Returning home is becoming increasingly difficult. While her daughter is growing up and worries about the size of her nose, Penelope tries to save human lives. In dynamic watercolour compositions with dialogues that reveal razor-sharp observation, Vanistendael wonders how to deal with a choice that is not a real choice at all.
'Hinterland’ is a claustrophobic novel about solidarity and individuality, which makes us think about the way we treat the earth and our fellow man. If that world becomes a world that can no longer accommodate us all: who gets to stay and who doesn’t, who belongs to ‘our group’?
Magical prose that is almost unequalled in our literary tradition.
In order to address several hot topics, Fikry El Azzouzi opts for all-out satire in ‘The Reward’. With acerbic wit and absurd humour he writes the coming-of-age story of a boy in search of both his sexual and national identity.
The master of animal illustrations and the king of animal stories come together in this inimitable book. In seventeen stories we meet animals who would like to be different, until they realize how special they already are. Both visually and in its storytelling, this is a delightful book.
The unexpected is what excites in this novel. A damn good piece of work.
Mattis, a self-declared ‘champion of solitude’, spends his empty days in a dilapidated house beside a lake, far from civilization. He looks upon life with derision and self-contempt. Then Elma strides into his life, naked, wading across the lake. A novel permeated by both humour and melancholy, cynicism and sarcasm. Vintage Verhulst.
Van den Broeck has a very keen eye. But she also has a great mind. ****
Charlotte Van den Broeck is primarily known as a poet – in that capacity she opened the guest of honour presentation by Flanders and the Netherlands at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2016 – but ‘Bold Ventures’ is her extraordinary and highly distinctive debut as a non-fiction writer.
Writer Koen Peeters and painter Koen Broucke, both fascinated by Ostend, wander through the streets in search of the town’s soul. ‘A Room in Ostend’ is a moving and sometimes ironic account of their peregrinations. It is a book about friendship, loss, self-reflection, adventures big and small and the magic that encounters can bring.
222 beautifully worded pages - Brijs pushes his boundaries as a writer.
Het Belang van Limburg
‘The Year of the Dog’ is a scintillating, often harrowing novel about love, lust, betrayal and the (im)possibility of close friendship between a man and a woman. It is Brijs’ very own version of ‘When Harry met Sally’.
Olbrechts is quietly working on what may well turn out to be one of the strongest Dutch language graphic oeuvres.
Hawk struggles to live up to his name. Unlike the strong, uncompromising bird, he is timid, insecure and the target of his colleagues’ ridicule. Following an incident, he is suspended from work and goes to recuperate at his aunt, who lives in a quiet village surrounded by nature. He is determined to change.
'Here' is a shabby village close to the border. People from Here who travel abroad are welcome only as a source of cheap labour. Until one day the borders are shut and no one is allowed to leave the country. In her poetic prose, with its apparently simple sentences, Joke van Leeuwen manages to evoke a mythical world that we can connect with contemporary themes such as xenophobia, migration and totalitarian regimes.
Bart Van Loo is in top form. The Burgundians is impossible to put down and hits like a sledgehammer. A masterpiece.
‘The Burgundians’ takes the reader on a journey through a thousand years of European history, calling at cities such as Dijon, Paris, Lille, Ghent, Bruges and Delft, up to the time when the Seventeen Provinces arose and the Burgundian Empire came to an end. It tells a scintillating account of pyres and banquets, plagues and jousts, Joan of Arc, Jan van Eyck, Philip the Good and the Golden Fleece.
This book will resonate for a long time and I do hope it will have a healing effect on society.
This book is more than a reconstruction of a forgotten war year. It offers a new way of understanding World War II, which raises questions that reach far beyond the pitch-black year of 1942. Set against this startling background, the author examines the past, as well as the acceptance and denial of what came to pass.
Wonderfully strange and strangely wonderful, an epic dream captured in superbly meticulous detail
A paper boat is launched in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It makes a long journey, meeting the strangest of beings, passing between towering mangroves and braving a devastating storm. In ‘Wanderer’, his debut, Peter Van den Ende presents a wordless spectacle of pure imagination.
Jan Bouvaert is a man with ambition and a painter trained in Italy. On his return to Antwerp, he and his wife build up both his business and his reputation. Spruyt uses baroque images to create a fictitious biography that also pokes fun at the ego of artists and poses questions about what gives meaning to life.
Those who have read 'Brutopia' will be seeing this metropolis through different eyes
Since Donald Trump dismissed Brussels as a ‘hellhole’, the city has become world famous. Brussels has its fans, but it is also the most hated city in Belgium and the European Union. In this fascinating and very readable urban biography Pascal Verbeken debunks the widespread clichés and prejudices about contemporary Brussels by looking at its history with all its dreams and failures.
Holes beneath the waterline the discourse about the superiority of Western norms and values.
Rachida Aziz dips her pen in vitriol in the best tradition of literary polemic to give the established order a good dressing down. Every day she is confronted with how it feels not to belong. Aziz fights the constraints of society and writes about what she describes as her own process of decolonisation.
This is a truly major debut. ‘Buck’ is pretty terrific.
In the beginning… there is Buck, the first man on earth. This absurd but very clever story of creation, full of acerbic wit, shows us a wonderfully anachronistic paradise filled with dazzling colours, in which Buck wanders like a blank page. The humour, the well-structured narrative and the awe-inspiring natural beauty make ‘Buck’ a very impressive debut indeed.
Claude Monet immortalised his love for his garden in hundreds of paintings: we all know his world-famous waterlilies. In much of Vermeire’s work plants, flowers, trees and animals occupy an important place, so she is the perfect illustrator to capture Monet’s explosions of colour in a picture book.
Van Der Veken's line is so sharp that his world is beautifully streamlined.
The New Yorker on ‘Fabrica Grafica’
‘Airplanes’ is a remarkable reference work for pilots-to-be. It answers all kinds of questions about flying, the components of a plane, the influence of the weather and the atmosphere and about communication in an ever more crowded airspace. The unique illustrations in the so-called atomic style contribute to the book’s industrial look. Van Der Veken produces clever, highly stylised illustrations that are not only technically correct but also atmospheric and poetic.
All of his books are a feast to read and look at together.
De Volkskrant on ‘A House for Harry’
The king has seen a dragon and is afraid to go to bed before his three bravest knights have slain it. But where does the dragon hide in the dark? The three knights are undaunted, convinced they will soon find him. But it is not as easy as they had thought. A great adventure in saturated colour.
While his sister has been in the land of Nod for a while, brother is not yet ready for bed. First he has to tuck in his cuddly toy, chase away bad dreams, count the stars and feel cold. 'Sleep Tight!’ is a cheerful little book about not wanting to go to sleep, the power of fantasy and… of books.
Dino is thirteen when he and his father have to start life afresh. While Dino struggles with terrible hormonal acne and would love to be Luke Perry of Beverly Hills 90210, his father is slowly falling to pieces. Dieter VDO’s signature cartoonesque figures in eccentric colours produce a deeply human story, one that is both tragicomic and recognisable.
A rich novel, rich in ideas, in words, in images, in sentences that enfold you and engulf you.
De Leeswelp on ‘Over Sea’
Brothers Luca and Berio are inseparable. Their trapeze act is one of the highlights of the travelling circus they belong to. At the top of the tent trust between them is literally of vital importance. ‘All Things Light’ is a tender story set against a very dark backdrop, with Mussolini and his Blackshirts in power. The threat that has permeated every part of Italian life now also seeps into the circus on the fringes of society. A filmic and poetic book.
When we hear ‘Japan’, we tend to think of geishas, samurai and sumo wrestlers populating a country wedded to ancient customs and traditions. Japan expert Luk Van Haute paints a picture of Japanese society as far more diverse than some would have us believe.
Naima once again brings about a kind of Copernican revolution in the anti-racism story.
Hand in Hand
The public debate about racism and discrimination usually concentrates on shocking injustices, rather than the day-to-day racism that results in what Naima Charkaoui calls micro-injuries, caused by profound and painful experiences that are hard to put into words. What’s more, the culprits are often central to the debate and to the follow-up, while the victim is left out in the cold. This book is a plea for more attention to be paid to the victims of racism.
Many psychological differences between the sexes are not solely the product of upbringing and the cultural environment. Instead they are in part a predictable consequence of millions of years of evolution by natural and sexual selection. This well-written book draws upon the most recent scientific developments as support for its plea to us to rethink our concept of feminism.
Streuvels is the Tolstoy of the Lowlands. Magisterial.
David Van Reybrouck
This story gives an inimitable description of the monotony and finiteness of life against the backdrop of a drunken, nocturnal atmosphere in which dream and reality are masterfully interwoven. With this novella, bathed in a magic-realistic atmosphere, Streuvels has written one of the loveliest short stories in Dutch literature.