The United Nations' (UN) World Refugee Day is observed on June 20 each year. This event wants to draw attention to the millions of refugees and internally displaced persons worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict and persecution. This global social issue is so important that it is of course also widely addressed in literature. Below you will find a selection of books from Flanders that are related to this theme in one way or another. 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.
Impactful. Shows shameful current realities that get deep under the skin.
A girl is hiding in the back of a lorry. She’s sharing the space with a horse, her mum, and Captain Compass, her best friend. They’re on their way to another country, where the walls don’t dance and the houses don’t fall, and where the sky doesn’t rumble like thunder when there’s not a cloud to be seen. A light book about a weighty subject.
A story that reads like a poetically written prophecy of doom
‘The Uncountables’ is a novel which brings to life the consequences of the warped relationship between poor and rich countries, in this case a Europe languishing in its wealth, and which brings home the possible consequences of an unstoppable stream of refugees. The novel engages with an all-too-real problem in a strongly allegorical way which confronts the reader with his own existence.
An extremely fascinating book in which the everyday lives of asylum seekers is told in an unparalleled fashion
The narrator, Bipul Masli, sketches an intriguing picture of life in an asylum centre. He describes the daily routine with detached irony. His tireless attempts to gain recognition as a refugee are both comic and touching.
Uncomfortable conclusions alternate with vivid images
The international bakery appears to be a place where freedom and civil rights prevail. The whole world comes together here. Nolens has written a distinctly political and contemporary pamphlet, an attack on our individualistic society. He portrays the poetic and multi-layered quest of an individual who seeks to connect with the fluctuating forms of community in a city.
Empathy is the raw material all his books are made of
This is the true story of a fisherman and his daughter, who fled their home country Vietnam some time ago. Hung crossed the ocean in his small fishing vessel to start a new life in a village behind a high sea wall. Quyen opened a successful restaurant, but is now struggling with an identity crisis.
Vereecken captures the harsh reality in poetic sentences. An extraordinarily strong novel ****
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.
A philosophical book that challenges the motivations of western aid workers in Africa, and at the same time an account of an idealistic, lonely western man who is incapable of exorcising the ghosts from his past.
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.
Lanoye leaves no stone unturned in a ruthless novel
Gideon Rottier is a loner with a speech impediment and an unusual job. His life takes a different turn when Youssef, a refugee, becomes his new colleague. After an awkward start, they become best friends. But when Youssef disappears and leaves Gideon to look after his wife and children, things take an ugly turn.
Haunting. With short chapters, Elvis Peeters keeps the reader in a stranglehold.
A boy grows up in a village where war threatens. Then, the supermarket at which the boy works is bombed into the ground. Leaving is now the only option. In confident, crystal-clear language, ‘Bread’ tells the gripping, poetic coming-of-age story of a boy who is not given the chance to enjoy his youth.
A crucial book that will stir hearts and minds ****
Stefan Hertmans based the story of ‘The Convert’ on historical facts, and he brings the Middle Ages to life with immense imagination and stylistic ingenuity. This is the story of three religions and a world going through massive change, a story of hope, love and hatred, a novel about a woman who can be certain of one thing: at home the death penalty awaits.