Flemish novels on the complex matter of boat refugees

Following the recent dramatic events in the Mediterranean, the problem of boat refugees is once again a topic of debate. Two Flemish short novels have also been written on this complex matter in recent years: Elvis Peeters’ De ontelbaren’ (The Uncountables, Uitgeverij Podium) and Peter Verhelst's ‘De allerlaatste caracara ter wereld’ (The Very Last Caracara in the World, Prometheus). 

 


In the discussion of migration, it is often argued that ‘you can't just let anybody from Africa into Europe’. Elvis Peeters' novel ‘De ontelbaren’ takes exactly that as its point of departure. At a certain point, a Flemish village is flooded with immigrants. More arrive each day, until there is no longer any room and they start pitching their tents in the villagers' gardens. Drily, without pathos, the author chronicles how this situation disturbs normal Western life. The book has already been translated into Slovenian and the Turkish rights were recently sold to Tekin.

 

Peter Verhelst's ‘De allerlaatste caracara ter wereld’ is a poetic novel set on a tropical island full of secrets. Life on the island takes an unusual twist when not only whales wash up on the beach but also a number of women and girls who cannot speak. Are they boat refugees? 

 

These two books are quite different in tone and structure, but both are literary gems.

 

> More on 'De ontelbaren' ...

> More on 'De allerlaatste caracara' ...

published on: 2015-05-07

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