We proudly present to you this year's spring selection. We can't meet you yet in real life but we hope this page gives you some inspiration. You can find the latest titles from Flanders in fiction, children's and youth literature and graphic novels.
An atmospheric, melancholic graphic novel about growing up in the nineties *****
Gus is in his thirties when he returns to the village where he grew up. Cas and his friends are in their final year in school, balancing on the cusp of adulthood, and can’t wait to get away. Ward Zwart shows himself a master of low-key yet telling images and detailed facial expressions, rendered fully in pencil. It’s the poetry of small things that, more than anything, speaks loud and clear in the work of Zwart and Smits.
A moving stroll through early parenthood and all the powerful emotions that go with it
Having a child marks the greatest possible change to a life and ‘Never Alone Again’ aims to illuminate not just the wonder it brings but the darker side too. Ephameron describes the multiplicity of emotions upon a child's arrival not in a straightforward story but as fragmented impressions in watercolour. This creates an extraordinarily intimate atmosphere and provides an intense reading experience.
Wondrous. Madness in the beauty or beauty in the madness, who’s to say?
1899. Belgian Joseph Lippens travels to the Congo, where his father disappeared off the face of the earth several months earlier. In this scintillating debut, Thibau Vande Voorde shows us what he is capable of. With virtuoso control of his colour pencils, he conjures up the scorching heat and the beautiful abundance of Congo, as well as the contorted facial expressions of a man who becomes a victim of his own ambition.
The peaceful angel-face of death presents every aspect of the horror of war. Great art.
Vincent Bosse is a young drummer in Napoleon’s army. During the campaign in Russia, angel-faced Vincent manages to save his own skin time and again. Can a man be blamed for saving himself in a thoroughly insane situation? With watercolours and a limited but carefully chosen palette, Spruyt brings the war and its horrors convincingly to life. A brilliant exploration of a universal theme.
Shady has just one goal in life: to get attention. That’s the same, after all, as love and recognition. Both narcissistic and subject to crippling insecurity, he lives a life full of drama. ‘Shady’ is a merciless examination of our cultural and human depravities, and a real feast for the eye.
An ‘ode to life’ written after a moral and physical crisis, ‘Pallieter’ was warmly received as an antidote to the misery of World War I in occupied Belgium. ‘Pallieter’ is a portrait of Flemish rural life in which there is never a cheerless moment.
Spit set the bar high, then launched herself over it with linguistic agility and skill
Leo has been together with her boyfriend Simon for ten years. Their happiness is shattered after he comes home excitedly with a brand-new tattoo behind his ear. Simon’s sudden odd behaviour turns out to be the prelude to a psychotic episode, caused by a bipolar disorder. Spit convincingly portrays the oppressiveness, manoeuvrability and exhaustion resulting from life with a psychotic partner.
His crowning achievement. Olyslaegers masterfully takes us back to the time of the Great Iconoclasm and Bruegel. *****
During the turbulent 1560s, trade is flourishing inAntwerp and Beer’s inn becomes a refuge for freethinkers and trailblazers. Ten years later, Beer, now in Amsterdam, looks back on the events that prompted him to flee his native city. ‘Wild Woman’ is a monumental novel about the longing for unity and the discovery of an inner truth, about friendship, community, faith and betrayal. With his rich, sumptuous and debauched language, Olyslaegers drags you into the dark alleyways of the 16th century.
A heart-rending, harrowing book. Rhythmical prose, with great authority. ****
The Romanian Alina travels to Sicily with her eleven-year-old son Lucian to work in tomato cultivation, in order to earn money that’s badly needed at home. They have high hopes, but the reality is shocking. This socially engaged page-turner is not just a book about contemporary labour migration, exploitation and oppression, it is above all a story of resilience, the power of motherhood and women’s self-reliance.
Radiant fiction. This essential book shines a light on personal experiences of migration in ways that illuminate and surprise.
In this intriguing mosaic of ten stories Unigwe chronicles the unusual lives of a group of Nigerian immigrants who are making their way in Belgium. They all left their country in the hope of a better life, but the pain of missing Nigeria is a heavy price to pay. Readers will be moved by the realistic, recognisable characters and Unigwe’s empathetic analysis of a migrant community, the situation they fled and the disappointments in their new country.
A flawless novel with an atmosphere and intensity reminiscent of Graham Swift and Ian McEwan.
Peter Terrin takes you with him in this tragic, compelling love story to a crucial episode in the lives of Simon and Carla in the late 1980s. Despite their difference in age, Simon and Carla throw themselves into a passionate relationship, with far-reaching consequences. ‘All the Blue' is a sensitive and sensual novel about friendship and love, and about the delicate quest for an identity of one’s own.
At times poignant, at times shocking, but just as often witty enough to make you burst out laughing.
Annelies Verbekeinterweaves more than four thousand years’ worth of literature from around the world. Inspired by better and lesser known classics from before 1900, the fifteen pieces in this collection form a kaleidoscope full of interrelated moments. ‘Trains and Rooms’ is like a hall of mirrors in which new doors keep opening up into other eras and narratives. It reinforces her reputation as the ‘Queen of the Flemish short story’.
Schoeters overwhelms the reader with a rhetorical force borrowed from thrillers and from Tolkien. ****
Hunter White lives for the big game hunt. An immensely wealthy American share trader, he goes to Africa to shoot a rhinoceros, the last of the Big Five he has yet to bag. In this page-turner Schoeters takes us into the twisted mind of a Western hunter. White is guided by a morally dubious compass as he weighs up the value of a life, whether of a person or of an animal. A compelling ode to wild nature and a sharp critique of how we relate to Africa.
It is about the pure pleasure of looking, and then looking again
De Morgen on ‘Whose Zoo?’
A playful, wordless picture book with a starring role for fruits, vegetables and insects, which encourages readers to look, search and look again like never before. Geert Vervaeke plays with simple, pure forms and vibrant colours that, when combined, produce unexpected new images. She hopes that this book will encourage children to let their imagination run wild.
A dog asks a cat to tell it something, anything at all. But the cat can’t think of a single thing. Then the dog flips things around and challenges the cat to think of nothing. It blows a fuse in the cat’s head: there’s always something. Something or nothing, that’s the question in this fun and philosophical picture book.
A philosophical story that will leave you speechless, with equally delicate illustrations
A white little girl plays indoors in her safe white room and constructs a fantasy life for herself. At night she dreams of adventures in the world outside. ‘Blanca’ is a philosophical story about not being able to go out and being thrown back on your own resources, a warm ode to the imagination, dreams and desires. The sensory illustrations in soft hues show how colourful white actually is.
Van Der Veken's line is so sharp that his world is beautifully streamlined.
THE NEW YORKER ON ‘FABRICA GRAFICA’
In ‘Ships & Boats’ we dive into the wonderful world of ships and shipping. The book includes a quirky selection from the technical aspects of ships, and is peppered with extraordinary facts and anecdotes. The playful illustrations in 'ligne claire' style and the extensive technical drawings make this book a graphic masterpiece for every captain in the making.
Such layering, such rich atmosphere and magnificent dialogue, this is unprecedented.
JaapLeest on ‘Fish Don’t Melt’
Ronke loves running. Preferably by the sea, with the wind in her hair, the sand beneath her feet and the smell of salt in her nose. But two years ago, she crashed into a toddler on the beach. Ronke is blind, that’s why. In ‘Ronke’s Night’ Jef Aerts brings the wonder of science and the power of the imagination together into a thrilling and poetic adventure.
You really do want to keep on looking at his illustrations
A girl searches in vain for her father. When she spots him in the distance and walks over to him, he disappears, and then appears to be waiting for her again. But as soon as she gets closer: nothing, nobody. This mysterious book with powerful monotypes addresses a topical issue: children in search of their roots and family bonds.
‘The Bamboo Girl’ is an engaging and lavishly illustrated liberal adaptation of a 10th-century Japanese fairy tale. Mattias De Leeuw conjures up the Japan of times gone by, while Edward van de Vendel’s language is poetic and concise and full of beautiful imagery. A wondrous, extraordinary and moving fairy tale.