The worldwide protests against racism and discrimination have also struck a chord with Flanders Literature. We believe that literature, especially, is a place that should welcome all, regardless of background and colour, a place where nobody is excluded and every talent is given the opportunities it deserves.
Unfortunately, inequality and marginalisation are still rife in the world – that’s as true today as it was in the past. Stories provide a space to think about and reflect on these issues, to raise our consciousness and to create a more tolerant society.
Below we introduce a wide-ranging selection of books from Flanders in which racism, discrimination and (in)equality play a role. Each one of them is guaranteed to deliver an enriching reading experience.
Do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to find out more about these books and authors. We'd love to help you.
Challenging and haunting. Ait Hamou is emerging as an important voice of his generation.
Without realising it, the young Belgian-Moroccan Soumia became an accomplice in a terrorist attack and was given a prison sentence. Tough old Fleming Luc lost his wife Maria in the attack. He is unable to let go of the past and rails at ‘those bloody foreigners’ to anyone prepared to listen. Ish Ait Hamou goes in search of what binds us together, our longing for forgiveness and acceptance and our ability to understand each other in an increasingly polarised society.
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.
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.
Morgan is a jazz pianist from Brussels, with Congolese roots. He has banished the images of his childhood in the tropics from his memories… Until an out-of-the-blue encounter changes his life, that is. This is a novel about ‘half-castes’, and how the Belgian colonizer used to treat these mixed race children, separating them forever from their biological family.
Lively and engaging... On Black Sisters’ Street is a pleasure to read: fast-paced, lucidly structured and colourful.
Times Literary Supplement
‘On Black Sisters Street’ tells the haunting story of four very different women who have left their African homeland for the riches of Europe—and who are thrown together by bad luck and big dreams into a sisterhood that will change their lives.
Sensitive language and delicate treatment of emotions
A Creole plantation on the Mississippi, in Louisiana. Planter's daughter Lara and slave girl Rebecca grow up together and become bosom friends. Vereecken describes her characters with great subtlety and nuance. But the division between black and white, between slave and master, cruelly and irrevocably tears them apart. A profound and compelling novel.
A powerful look into the complexities of the human heart and prejudice *****
Comic Heroes Magazine
An enjoyable, flowing and exceptionally readable graphic novel about the author’s relationship with a Togolese political refugee. The story consists of two parts, in which we see the same relationship from two different perspectives. The visual narrative is vivid and follows a rhythm that matches the story perfectly.
The editorial board of Cult Weekly magazine has called a crisis meeting. The image of a black woman on the cover of their latest issue has unleashed a social media storm. How sincere or how arrogant and patronising is their social engagement really?
An elderly acting couple take stock of their love for each other and for their profession. All their productions are flops except one: a popular repertory classic about a pair of swearing and hard-drinking intellectuals that brings in money and audiences.
A blend of incisive, sensory perception and condensed poetic speech’
With ‘Antigone in Molenbeek’ Stefan Hertmans has adapted Sophocles’ tragedy to our contemporary, multicultural society. Antigone is now known as Nouria, a brave young law student from the Brussels district of Molenbeek. Just as in the classic, she wants to pay her last respects to her deceased brother – in Hertmans’ version a suicide bomber – and bury his remains. But the authorities decide otherwise.
Top-level theatre that explodes your conscience like an expanding bullet.
This monologue is neither an indictment nor a celebration, but instead explores the complex tragedy of international peace operations. It is a tale of idealism and incompetence, of noble objectives and dirty business.
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.
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.