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The Great War

Every year on 11 November, we commemorate Armistice Day, the end of the First World War in 1918. Even now, more than a hundred years later, the influence of the Great War can still be felt, in society as well as in books. Here we present a selection of titles from Flanders in which this war plays a significant role. We are convinced that these books, among others, can help make present and future generations aware of the importance of tolerance and international relations. After all, literature is the ideal tool for generating empathy and identification.

Don't hesitate to contact us if you would like more information about one or more of these titles. We'd love to help you.

  • Cover War and Turpentine
    NY Times Favourite
    Cover War and Turpentine
    NY Times Favourite
    War and Turpentine
    One of the 10 best books of 2016
    The New York Times

    Right before his death in the 1980s, Stefan Hertmans’ grandfather gave his grandson a few notebooks. For years, Hertmans was too afraid to open them – until he finally did and laid bare some unexpected secrets.

  • Cover Woesten
    Cover Woesten
    Enchantingly beautiful
    De Wereld Draait Door

    ‘Woesten’ recounts a suffocating story full of village gossip about a family in which fate strikes with a heavy hand, leaving no-one unscathed. It portrays a realistic, almost naturalistic image of a typical rural village in the early 20th century and offers a nuanced view of the psychology of intriguing characters.

  • Cover Tell Someone
    Cover Tell Someone
    Tell Someone
    An interesting new voice in European literature
    Die Zeit

    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.

  • Cover While the Gods Were Sleeping
    shortlist Independent Foreign Fiction Prize
    Cover While the Gods Were Sleeping
    shortlist Independent Foreign Fiction Prize
    While the Gods Were Sleeping
    The footprint of Proust visible on every page
    The Financial Times

    Old Helena looks back on her youth, the loves she has known, her marriage and the distressing time she experienced in World War I. The topic and style make ‘While the Gods Were Sleeping’ in all respects an exceptional literary experience.

  • Cover Post for Mrs. Bromley
    Cover Post for Mrs. Bromley
    Post for Mrs. Bromley
    Without doubt thé Dutch-language novel of the year. It is the most beautiful and overwhelming First World War epic of Flemish literature to date.

    This is a novel about lies, illusions and make-believe. In an excellently documented portrait of an era, Brijs exposes the gulf between the excitement about the war and the appalling reality of it, depicted in strong dramatic scenes.

  • Cover His Name Is David
    Cover His Name Is David
    His Name Is David
    A book to be unashamedly excited about
    NRC Handelsblad

    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. But when he befriended a sensitive young pupil, Marcus Verschoppen, disaster followed.

  • Cover The Girl and the Soldier
    Cover The Girl and the Soldier
    The Girl and the Soldier
    A book to read again and again
    Friesch Dagblad

    A small village behind the front, during World War I. While soldiers struggle to fight, life behind the front goes on. At the inn, where soldiers come to catch their breath, lives a blind girl. One day, she finds someone sitting on her bench: a black soldier, with the ‘scent of roasted nuts’.

  • Cover 'Everything Will Be Fine, Forever'
    Woutertje Pieterse Prize
    Cover 'Everything Will Be Fine, Forever'
    Woutertje Pieterse Prize
    Everything Will Be Fine, Forever
    Vereecken captures the harsh reality in poetic sentences. An extraordinarily strong novel ****
    Cutting Edge

    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.

  • Cover Someone's Sweetheart
    Cover Someone's Sweetheart
    Someone's Sweetheart
    Beautiful adaptation of Stravinsky’s 'The Soldier’s Tale'
    De Morgen

    ‘Someone’s Sweetheart’ is a fairytale in verse form, about a Russian soldier who is given two weeks annual leave from the battlefield in World War I. In the penetrating, moving text, Moeyaert continually plays with foreboding omens. The sinister atmosphere is enhanced by Korneel Detailleur’s impressive grey illustrations.

  • Cover The Dog Eaters
    Cover The Dog Eaters
    The Dog Eaters
    A stunning young adult novel
    NRC Handelsblad

    'The Dog Eaters' describes the plight of ordinary citizens during WWI, as seen through the eyes of Victor, the epileptic 17-year-old son of a notary. With its mythical atmosphere and almost unbearable tension, this is an unforgettable novel for readers of all ages.

  • Cover Still Bread to Eat
    Cover Still Bread to Eat
    Still Bread to Eat
    An extremely strong book, a wartime childhood that can be taken as a reference
    Edward van de Vendel

    Flanders, 1914. The war is approaching audibly. Young Nelle volunteers as a nurse in a hospital, seeing this war as a chance to become more than just a baker’s daughter, a mother and wife. Her boyfriend Simon doesn’t want to go to war, but he is pushed by his father, who is fascinated by heroism and the art of warfare, and he ends up in the trenches with his best friend Kamiel.

  • Cover Junker
    Cover Junker
    Brilliant use of the narrative and graphic possibilities of comics

    In the trenches, the nameless corpse of a German machine gunner attempts to construct his own history. He tries to get to grips with the insanity of war by tempering the brutal reality with stories.

  • Cover - The Nieuport Gathering
    Cover - The Nieuport Gathering
    The Nieuport Gathering
    A demonstration of skill
    De Standaard

    Adriaenssens brings the insanity of World War I to life: the battlefields pocked with craters, the villages and towns shot to smithereens, the harrowing conditions in the trenches and the absurd orders of authorities, who had not the faintest idea what they were doing. The powerful story is told with muted shades and concise text.

  • Cover - Wounded City
    Cover - Wounded City
    Wounded City
    Unique in the stream of books published to mark the centenary of World War One

    On 19 August 1914, in a matter of hours, the university city of Leuven transformed from the Belgian military headquarters into a city occupied by German soldiers. Soon after that, Leuven was reduced to ashes. Gerolf Van de Perre and Johanna Spaey portray these dramatic early days of World War I in powerful, poetic images and words.

  • Cover Occupied City
    Cover Occupied City
    Occupied City
    A milestone of modernist poetry

    Embedded in a fragmentary atmospheric sketch of life in the port of Antwerp during World War I, ‘Occupied City’ is first and foremost a settling of accounts with the bourgeois culture and politics of Ostaijen’s period. The Dadaist influence from his time in Berlin can be found in its inventive rhythmical typography, its use of the collage technique, and the radicalism of its unparalleled cynical evocation of wartime suffering.

  • Cover The Comfort of Beauty
    Cover The Comfort of Beauty
    The Comfort of Beauty
    A perfectly accomplished anthology of moving testimonies from literary and other sources.

    In deeply personal letters, displaying an impressive knowledge of the subject, Piet Chielens and his brother Wim correspond about the war poems of John McCrae, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and many other soldiers who fought in Flanders Fields and found comfort in writing poetry.

  • Cover Europe, Oh Europe!
    Cover Europe, Oh Europe!
    Europe, Oh Europe!
    Buelens has written a brilliant and accessible book about the hyperbole of the Great War.
    De Volkskrant

    In' Europe, oh Europe!' Buelens describes how Europe was shooting itself to pieces while desperately seeking a new identity. It is a book about the destructive and healing power of the word, a chunk of lively cultural history and a meditation on nationalism and international cooperation.

  • Cover The Age of Charlie Chaplin
    Cover The Age of Charlie Chaplin
    The Age of Charlie Chaplin
    The alternation between zooming in to focus on the films and panning out to the world stage works well.
    De Standaard

    Matthijs de Ridder gives a sparkling account of an artist who was able to embody all the important themes of the 20th century. Using new sources, he casts a fresh glance over the life and work of Chaplin. At the same time, ‘The Age of Charlie Chaplin’ is a phenomenal cultural history of a turbulent period that defines our worldview to this very day.