Famous Belgian Books, Anyone?

What Has Belgium Ever Done…

… other than being invaded in two world wars? (No disrespect, God knows they weren’t the only ones.) Admittedly, it also plays host  to the EU but that’s probably on the Canberra basis – they couldn’t agree which, so they picked one in between. At least, that’s my theory.

On account of the EU, Brussels in recent years has acquired status as a swearword in most countries in Europe; or at the very least as a synonym for… well. Any number of negative things since the EU’s faults are many: lack of democracy, bureaucracy, common agricultural policy… [insert your problem with the EU here]. Playground swings which due to health & safety considerations will not actually swing (not to mention they even look the same all over Europe)!


The Great Belgian Book Challenge

I feel Brussels and the Belgians deserve a bit better… (after all, the EU is not their fault).

I also feel that the good people of Brussels don’t deserve to be blown up any more than the rest of us. So as an act of solidarity, I’m inviting you all in joining me to find and read a Belgian book and, if you are a blogger, by all means, write a post about it… You don’t have to promise not to slag it off if it turns out to be rubbish, not even as an act of solidarity, mind!

To start us all of:

The only Belgian literary character I  know is Hercule Poirot and he was not written by a Belgian.

I had a look in Wikipedia: there were some authors listed, for Belgian literature in Dutch, French and Walloon. I only ever heard of Maurice Maeterlinck and I haven’t read a single word by him. At least not up to now. (And I might still opt for somebody else.)

So there you are. Please leave a comment if you have any recommendations or if you’re willing to take up the challenge!

 

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8 thoughts on “Famous Belgian Books, Anyone?

  1. Speaking Dutch, I have a lot more choice when it comes to Dutch-speaking Belgian authors, but I have to admit I haven’t read many. Amélie Nothomb is Belgian and writes quirky, modern little books. A Belgian friend of mine likes Michel Houllebecq. Again, modern and full of bad language, I suspect (without a shred of evidence). I picked up one of his books at a BookCrossing meeting at the weekend, so I have a chance of finding out. Googling, I realise I also have his ‘Atomised’, which is on the 1001 book list, as is Willem Elsschot’s ‘Cheese’. I once started a massive tome by Hugo Claus, but soon gave up. Looking up Belgian literature on Wikipedia, ‘My Little War’ by Louis Paul Boon sounds interesting. A popular author is Dimitri Verhulst, whose ‘Problemski Hotel’ (about an asylum centre, no less) and ‘The Misfortunates’ are both available in English. Edwin Mortier’s ‘While the Gods Were Sleeping’ sounds worth reading, likened to Sebastian Faulkes – http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/while-the-gods-were-sleeping-by-erwin-mortier-trans-paul-vincent-book-review-9597883.html Just a few ideas!

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    1. arwen1968

      That’s great! 🙂 If you, like me, start with not knowing much about Belgian literature, Integratedexpat had some suggestions above to start you off… Also, Maeterlinck was a Nobel prize winner, so might be worth checking out too! Let me know how you get on and share the link too if you write a post! 🙂

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      1. Yes! I already checked her suggestions. I would go for Problemski Hotel or The Misfortunates. Even While the Gods were Sleeping sounds interesting. So I guess it will be either of those three. I have to see which are available though.
        Have you decided on one yet?

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        1. arwen1968

          I might go for Amélie Nothomb actually. I’m thinking Fear and Trembling, Life of Hunger or Sulphuric Acid. Problemski Hotel also sounded very interesting but Amazon didn’t have ‘look inside’ on that one, so I’d have to go down to the bookshop to have a look. I also considered Maeterlinck but I decided that I wasn’t in the mood for a philosophically inclined essay and his other works didn’t attract me. 🙂

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