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Walter van den Broeck

Walter van den Broeck was born in 1941 into a working class neighbourhood near the metalworks in Olen in Flemish Kempen. In his theatre plays and novels, often inspired by his own family life as a child, he shows great concern for the social circumstances of the workers, and highlights their living conditions. His 1967 debut, De troonopvolger (The Heiress), was a Freudian novel about a young writer wanting to escape his fathers authority. Van den Broeck’s breakthrough came with Brief aan Boudewijn (Letter to Baudouin, 1980), in which he shows the Belgian king round the working class area and house in which he grew up. The author’s fictional counter visit to the royal palace in Laken (Brussels) evolved into Van den Broeck’s masterpiece Het beleg van Laken (The Siege of Laken, published in four parts from 1985, collected in 1999). The personal theme recurs in novels like Verdwaalde post (Lost Mail, 1998), Een lichtgevoelige jongen (A Sensitive Boy, 2001) and De beiaard en de dove man (The Carilloneur and the Deaf Man, 2004).

Verdwaalde post

(De Bezige Bij, 1998, 380 pagina's)

It is not inconceivable that readers of Walter van den Broeck’s Verdwaalde post will find themselves carefully monitoring their health for some time afterwards. They will have just finished a text which supposedly contains a literally lethal combination of words: a combination which in the book at least costs the life of every unsuspecting reader. And Verdwaalde post is set up in such a way that one soon forgets that this is ‘only’ fiction.

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Een lichtgevoelige jongen

Een lichtgevoelige jongen

(De Bezige Bij, 2001, 208 pagina's)

In Een lichtgevoelige jongen (A Sensitive Boy) Walter van den Broeck once more returns to the Olen of his childhood. The setting is a blazing hot summer’s day in 1953, when everything is on the point of change, both in the life of the young Stijn and in the distant outside world, where the war in Korea is threatening to blow up into a new world war.

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De veilingmeester

De veilingmeester

(De Bezige Bij, 2007, 367 pagina's)

One striking factor of Walter van den Broeck is that he often appears as a character in his own novels. In his latest, De veilingmeester (The Auctioneer), he shows his lighter side, being visited by Bo van Dorselaer who asks him to write about his crazy and incredible story.

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