Summer is the perfect time for reading. And while you're at it, why not pick up a book that has something to do with travel and starts you on a journey through its pages? Here's a selection of 25 books from Flanders in all different genres, each of them exploring travel in one way or another. Whether you're looking for a novel to spark your wanderlust, a nonfiction book about a foreign country or a poetic exploration of home, that place we return to after our travels: you will surely find something to your liking. 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.
Fresh and candid. De Kuypers’s amused style lifts everything up out of the everyday.
At the end of the 1940s a family from Brussels resume a pre-war tradition of spending the summer in Ostend, on the Belgian coast. As he plays, the young boy Eric takes it all in: the sights, textures, tastes and smells – all the things his adult self will remember with delight and wonder.
'Arriving In Avignon’ is its own strange and gorgeously sprightly thing. Here’s hoping that as many readers as possible will discover it.
Rain Taxi Review of Books
What at first resembles a cross between a memoir and a guidebook in time proves to be the story of a young man's dogged yet futile quest to know his own mind – unless it is the ancient city of Avignon itself that is our real protagonist: a mystery that can be approached, but never wholly solved. The narrative unfolds in a stream of consciousness, drawing the reader into the protagonist’s quest for experience.
Wild, dark, romantic and almost addictively well-written ****
‘North’ is a carefully crafted and addictively well-written debut novel about ‘indecision in the choice’: the choice between two men, between art and life, between Vancouver and the harsh life in the north, and between the musical styles that are entwined with each location.
A revelation. Reading a story like this makes you happy
Corriere della Sera
Robin, young and ambitious, takes a tour of all the capital cities of Europe on behalf of his world-weary employer, looking for new marketing strategies for promotional gifts. In ‘Great European Novel’ – a tongue-in-cheek reference to ‘The Great American Novel’ – Koen Peeters has found the perfect form for a book about Europe and the European idea that lies behind it.
'Night Parents' is a swirling mix of intimate night-time conversations, brooding diary excerpts, meaningful flashbacks and scenes filled with slapstick, culminating in a gothic novel complete with sawn-off fingertips and family secrets.
‘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.
A fine debut – it looks like the well of promising young Flemish illustrators has not run dry yet.
A man is sitting in his cabin in the forest, all by himself. When he stares out of the window, all he sees are trees. It is a beautiful forest, but the man isn’t happy: he demolishes his little house and with the timber he assembles a pair of tall stilts. With giant steps he can now go and explore the wonders of the world.
A gripping and authentic tale of love, friendship, grief and loss
Eppo is taking a trip. Hitchhiking to France he is picked up by Tabby, who has her own reasons for leaving home. Tabby talks nineteen to the dozen; Eppo is an introvert. Through his eyes we join them on their journey, which has more to do with what lies behind them than with where they are going.
An unbelievably beautiful book. A unique, authentic voice in Flemish literature.
With a great sense of humour and a lightness of touch Evelien De Vlieger paints the portrait of a girl on the cusp of life, who thinks she wants to forget. ‘Wish You Were Here’ is about facing yourself, about letting go, and about daring to admit that you can’t. A bitter-sweet book full of lust for life.
Masterful. Brilliantly evokes an important historical period
‘We Two Boys’begins in 1910 when the Flemish family De Belder is getting ready for their new future in the promised land, the United States of America. Eventually it is only the young Adrian, however, who makes it all the way to New York. Aline Sax sketches a lively and convincing portrait of New York City.
Masterfully composed by an enlightened illuminator
Terres de legende
A cross between a coming-of-age story and a social satire. This colourful, hilarious and tragic graphic novel is about identity and humanity, about not very intelligent design, about yesterday and tomorrow. With ‘Papa Zoglu’, Simon Spruyt has shown once again that he is one of the most ingenious and funniest comic-book creators in Flanders.
A delightful piece to read and look at, with international allure
Verbeke and Verplancke offer a parody of the sovereign power of the artist in modern society. At a more abstract level, this story, taking place in the limited confines of a ski lift, is about an unsympathetic society that demands the artist to justify him- or herself. The result is a parable you will not easily forget.
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.
The great charm of this book lies in its explosive mix of opinion and storytelling.
The result is a beautiful balance between intellectual understanding and personal impressions. His great strength is his ability to keep his eyes open in all circumstances and to surprise himself with the realization that ‘travelling often turns out to be a process of finding what you weren’t looking for’.
His most personal and at the same time most universal book
'Abadaringi’ is a sketchbook and an intriguing documentary about the genocide in Rwanda. Janssen draws the landscapes and settings he encounters, and creates portraits of the people he speaks to. He also tells his own story, in handwritten notes. A phenomenal piece of journalism.
With his talent for well-balanced, focused writing, De Moor now occupies an unrivalled position within Dutch-language literature.
How did the Nazis poison the bustling life of the city? Which communist absurdities were the residents of East Berlin confronted with in the GDR? How did the city transform after ‘die Wende’?
In ‘Berlin. Life in a Divided City’, Piet de Moor goes in search of the soul of the mythical metropolis, a city that suffered like no other during the violent history of the 20th century. The result is an informative and kaleidoscopic book that is truly worth reading.
He embodies his perspective, which is analytic and constantly eager to learn
Forgotten celebrities, hidden masterpieces and unique areas of nature. This logbook is a colourful collection of notes and impressions, experiences and stories about the nature, culture, history and people of Andalusia.
With the inquisitive gaze that characterises all his works, Stefan Brijs takes a first look at the riches of his new home port.
An astute monument to the dislocation of modern man. A light-hearted yet meaningful portrait of an inscrutable reality.
The play wants to explore how some of the most famous exiles of the 20th century defended, revised or abandoned their European traditions in their new ‘paradise’. And whether we, in this day and age, could or would mount a similar defence. An exploration of ‘home’ and the idea of feeling displaced in your own home country.
Vielen is both a masterful writer and a born story-teller.
‘The Arrival of the Titanic’ is an intelligent and astute theatre monologue. On the one hand there is a ship that sinks – an event with clear echoes of the Costa Concordia disaster in 2012. On the other hand, the brief snippets that fit together like a mosaic are about a more metaphorical catastrophe.
The subtleness of this poetry continues to affect you, even once you have left the swimming pool of imagination
‘Swimming Pool of Imagination’ is Tom Van de Voorde’s third collection. The poems explicitly reflect the current political and societal issues. He is nothing more than an engaged spectator of ‘military fear’. We might heroically resolve to get involved in the world around us, but to what extent do we succeed?
Buelens writes a forthright terroristic poetry, although with still carefulness and subtility
‘Home’ investigates what makes us feel at home. Is it a place, a feeling, a language, a wireless connection or a carefully cultivated illusion? At first sight his poetry appears to be difficult, and while it can hardly be called simple, it is never uncomprehensible. Rather, it links the quest for the appropriate linguistic structure with the everyday struggle of the lyrical protagonist.
In ‘The Trip to Inframundo’ (2011) Peter Holvoet-Hanssen presents a challenging selection of poems taken from these five collections, and by altering the original chronology and combining poems in new ways he constructs a completely fresh collection in which he follows trails that emerge before fading away
Act like Elvis and shoot a bullet through your telly: it is here you have to look
Charles Ducal’s poetry contains much irony and casual humour, yet doesn’t shrink from such grand themes as language, religion and sexuality. His poetry is allegedly blasphemous, but ‘shocking’ would be a better epithet.
Peter Theunynck’s body houses twin souls: a virtuoso aesthete and a contrary troublemaker; a mild melancholic and a snappy hero of the resistance; a whistling nature-lover and a protesting city-dweller.