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Posts Tagged ‘Belgium’

While the Gods Were Sleeping shortlisted for Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

In Awards, Masters on April 11, 2015 at 5:39 PM


The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was inaugurated by British newspaper The Independent to honour contemporary fiction in translation in the United Kingdom. This year eminent Dutch-language Belgian author Erwin Mortier’s While the Gods Were Sleeping is one of the contenders, joined by literary giant Haruki Murakami, German authors Jenny Erpenbeck and Daniel Kehlmann, Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel from Equatorial Guinea and Colombian Tomás González. The winner will be presented with the prize at the Royal Institute of British Architects on 27 May.

Helena’s mother always said she was a born poetess. It was not a compliment. Now an old woman, Helena looks back on her life and tries to capture the past, filling notebook after notebook with memories of her respectable, rigid upbringing, her unyielding mother, her loyal father, her golden-haired brother. She remembers how, at their uncle’s country house in the summer of 1914, their stately bourgeois life of good manners, white linen and afternoon tea collapsed into ruins. And how, with war, came a kind of liberation amidst the mud and rubble and the appearance of a young English photographer who transformed her existence.

Lyrical and tender, filled with images of blazing intensity, While the Gods Were Sleeping asks how it is possible to record the dislocation of war; to describe the indescribable. It is a breathtaking novel about the act of remembering, how the past seeps into our lives and how those we have lost leave their trace in the present.

While the Gods Were Sleeping was translated by acclaimed translator Paul Vincent and published by Pushkin Press.

Erwin Mortier made his mark in 1999 with his debut novel Marcel, which was awarded several prizes in Belgium and the Netherlands, and received acclaim throughout Europe. While the Gods were Sleeping received the AKO Literature Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in the Netherlands.

Paul Vincent taught Dutch at the University of London for over twenty years before becoming a full-time translator. He has translated a wide variety of literature from Dutch, including Louis Couperus’s Inevitable and the Hidden Force as well as J.J. Slauerhoff’s The Forbidden Kingdom for Pushkin Press. In 2012 he was awarded the Vondel Translation Prize.


The Angel Maker

In Review on October 29, 2012 at 1:09 AM

A fews ago I read The Angel Maker by Belgium author Stefan Brijs. A complex novel flavored with magic realism, exploring a world of science, science pushed too far. Stefan Brijs deservedly won the Golden Owl from the Royal Academy for Dutch Language and Literature in 2006 with this novel.

Rumors of all sorts precede Dr. Victor Hoppe’s return to his childhood home in the Belgian hamlet of Wolfheim. But nothing could have prepared the villagers for the three identical infant sons who accompany him. Those who’ve managed to steal a look at the brothers have seen that the boys all boast their father’s carroty red hair—and his disfiguring cleft palate. The doctor does little to ingratiate himself with the townspeople until the chance rescue of a choking toddler and his ability to cure the local priest’s stomach ailment move the villagers to accept him as an upstanding member of the community. It isn’t until Victor hires Charlotte Maenhout, a retired schoolteacher, to care for the motherless boys that the truth about them—and the good doctor—slowly begins to emerge.

The Angel Maker is a gripping page-turner, a terrifying tale of one man’s mania and scientific hubris will linger in the imagination long after the book is finished. See reviews:

Los Angeles Times / The Independent / A Common Reader

The Angel Maker by Stefan Brijs

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