In the Picture
'When David Lost His Voice' by Judith Vanistendael
After the success of the translation 'Dance by the Light of the Moon', which combined the two parts of 'De maagd en de neger' ['The Virgin and the Negro'], its successor 'When David Lost His Voice' receives great critical acclaim. Rachel Cook nominated this book as graphic novel of the month in 'The Guardian/The Observer' of 19 April 2012.
In 'The Guardian' of 25 May 2012, Michel Faber sketches the history of publishing house SelfMadeHero and concludes at once: "In the last few years, the company has made remarkable progress, luring David B away from the majors, offering a new UK home to Moebius and the Moomins, and publishing a broad range of new work by emerging talents. One such talent is the Flemish author Judith Vanistendael, whose debut, 'Dance by the light of the Moon', chronicled the love affair between a Belgian girl and a Togolese political refugee. That book was good, but 'When David Lost His Voice' is even better." The story of a dying man of an incurable disease may at first seem unlikely to appeal much entertainment, says Faber, "But Vanistendael's book, poignant and occasionally harrowing though it may be, is not at all depressing. It's quirky, sensual and life-affirming – unafraid of sentiment, but not sentimental, shot through with wry humour and a deep appreciation of human resilience."
The art work, "executed with great flair in pen, inkbrush and watercolour", gets high praise from Faber: "Many pages are word-free, yet the images invite lingering attention, and not just to speculate on their sometimes ambiguous meaning. The artist's range of inventiveness is a pleasure to savour." He draws on the nine year old Tamar, who discovers in this graphic novel her own ritual to deal with the imminent loss of her father, to formulate his final judgement: " 'When David Lost His Voice' is a book full of such unexpected solaces, and a worthy addition to the canon of graphic gems."
On the website 'Broken Frontier. The Portal for Quality Comics Coverage', Bart Croonenborghs already posted on 1 February 2012 an announcement on the upcoming translation. He speaks of "a milestone leap for the writer/artist." The fascination of the reader of this story, he ascribes to the focus Vanistendael chooses: "By focusing not on the disease but on the emotions surrounding it, Judith Vanistendael has delivered a true gem in 'How David Lost His Voice'. Trapped in a generational wall of emotional silence, we can only empathise and frustrate ourselves with the characters. The triumvirate of story, art and protagonists is perfectly harmonized by Vanistendael and this graphic novel represents a major turning point in the author's storytelling abilities."
'The Economist' paid attention to the translation of 'Toen David zijn stem verloor' on 21 May 2012. The compare the story to the graphic novel 'Cancer Vixen' by Marisa Acocella, a first person narrative on living with breast cancer. "The emphasis of 'When David Lost His Voice'is slightly different. This is about watching a loved-one live with and die of cancer – and that focus lends itself particularly well to the graphic form. It is an outstanding testimony."
'When David Lost His Voice' (London 2012) is published by SelfMadeHero in a translation by Nora Mahony.
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- January 2011: 'We All Want Heaven' by Els Beerten
- September 2010: 'Divine sleep' by Erwin Mortier
- April 2010: 'Wonder' by Hugo Claus
- January 2010: ‘Les Noceurs' by Brecht Evens
- November 2009: 'Maria in der Hafenkneipe' by Willem Elsschot
- October 2009: 'Regarder le soleil' by Anne Provoost
- July 2009: ‘On Black Sisters' Street' by Chika Unigwe
- June 2009: ‘Terres de promesse' by Joseph Pearce
- April 2009: ‘The Angel Maker' in Bild Am Sonntag and Glasgow Evening Times
- January 2009: ‘Ceci n'est pas la bd flamande' in Le Soir
- October 2008: 'Jonkvrouw' in Die Zeit
- October 2008: David van Reybrouck in Le Soir