January 2011: 'We All Want Heaven' by Els Beerten
In her native Belgium, Els Beerten's 'We All Want Heaven' has received a great deal of attention from the press and the book has won a number of major literature prizes. Internationally, too, this award-winning youth novel has been well received. In 2010, with the aid of the Flemish Literature Fund, a Spanish translation was published by the Catalonian publishing house El Aleph. In November, Els Beerten travelled to Barcelona for the book presentation and promotion. There, she was interviewed by Ada Castells for the Catalonian newspaper 'Avui' and by Jordi Nopca for 'Aratu'. A full-page review by Robert Saladrigas appeared in 'La Vanguardia'.
The two interviewers were, above all, charmed by the candidness with which Els Beerten has made Flanders' war history into the subject of her novel. Ada Castells introduced her interview with Els Beerten in the 30 December 2010 issue of 'Avui' as follows: 'It is not easy to look back at the past; it requires courage. This Flemish author has managed to pluck up the nerve to do so'. Both interviewers admired the way Beerten undermines the absolute contrast between goodies and baddies; both resistance heroes and collaborators are portrayed first and foremost as people.
To the question of what she learned while writing 'We All Want Heaven', author Beerten replied, 'That there is nobody who is only good or only bad. Everyone tries to find heaven and, to achieve that, you take decisions, which can be wrong to one degree or another. I now know you can only judge someone if you have been through the same things they have'. That last sentence immediately provided Jordi Nopca with a good title for his piece in 'Aratu' on 13 December 2010.
In 'La Vanguardia' of 26 January 2011 Robert Saladrigas devoted attention to more than the technical quality of the text alone. 'The novel is of an unfailing accuracy and evolves inexorably towards a gripping climax. He, too, remarks on the humanisation of victims and perpetrators alike and concludes, "'We All Want Heaven' is a highly dignified piece of writing. And courageous. The book does not dampen the sound of a blood-curdling moral cynicism".
In addition to this Spanish translation, a Norwegian translation was published earlier by Cappelen-Damm, with the aid of the FLF. In May 2011, the Fischer publishing house will add a German translation to the list.