Fiction // Spring 2012

10 Books from Holland and Flanders

Victor Schiferli – 3 May 2012

We are proud to present eleven new titles in Dutch and Flemish fiction, all novels published in the past few months. Shortlisted for the prestigious Gouden Uil and praised by many reviewers, Stephan Enter’s breakthrough novel Grip tells the compelling story of four friends - three boys, one girl - who share a fascination for mountaineering and are reunited after twenty years. The book has become a steady bestseller, with foreign rights already sold to Germany, Italy and Norway.

This year’s selections also include the two striking and idiosyncratic novels Anything Can Break by Martijn Knol and Man&Post by Anton Valens. The first is a literary tour de force, a story told backwards in time that shows how one generation can pass its legacy of violence down to the next. Valens has made a splash with his downbeat yet often hilarious novel about a group of loners united by their fear of opening letters.

Mensje van Keulen and Otto de Kat have long been familiar names in Dutch literature, as true storytellers with a keen sense of atmosphere and unspoken tension. In her novel Love Has No Brains, Mensje van Keulen shows how love can make you do irresponsible and irrational things, for instance when you’re a house cleaner who discovers a woman dead in her chair. In News from Berlin, set on the eve of Hitler’s invasion of Russia in 1941, a Dutch diplomat in Switzerland is torn between his duty and his responsibility for his daughter. Otto de Kat’s work has been translated into French, English and German.

Maartje Wortel has been welcomed as a major new talent. Her first novel Half Human is set in Los Angeles, where millions of people’s paths criss-cross in random patterns, but without their lives ever touching. Then one day three different people and their stories literally collide. In The Chicken Boy, Gerard van Emmerik displays penetrating psychological insight. Although the novel takes place in the Dutch countryside, the characters are trapped as if in a Greek tragedy.

There are four writers from Flanders. Erik Vlaminck surprises with Burning Smell, which describes experiences common to emigrants all over the world in a tale of ravaging homesickness, of the old world and the new country. Erwin Mortier’s Stammered Songs is the intense, poetic memoir of his mother’s slow descent into Alzheimer’s disease. Mortier’s earlier work has been published in many languages.

Then there are two emerging talents from Belgium. Rachida Lamrabet’s second novel, The Man Who Didn’t Want to be Buried, goes beyond confrontation between Western and Islamic culture to explore the theme of identity and integrity. Ivo Victoria has been shortlisted for the Libris Literature Prize for Fortunately We’re Powerless, set at a family celebration. The pretence of solidarity that the mother and her children try to maintain cannot disguise the underlying tensions.

We will be at the London Book Fair, booth E415. Please come by if you would like more information about these or other works of Dutch literature.

Download it at the publication’s page

Victor Schiferli

Poetry specialist and coordinator international literary events in Germany


Victor Schiferli (1967) is responsible for the promotion of fiction and Dutch and Frisian poetry and classics worldwide. He also coordinates the literary events in Germany.

[email protected]

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