The Greatest Belgian "Fiction" Books Since 1980

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 264 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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  1. 1. The Sorrow of Belgium by Hugo Claus

    "The Sorrow of Belgium" is a coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of World War II. The narrative follows the life of a young boy in a Flemish town, as he navigates through the complexities of adolescence, family relationships, and the harsh realities of war. The novel provides an insightful exploration of Belgian history, culture, and the nation's struggle under the Nazi occupation, all through the eyes of the protagonist.

  2. 2. Margot and the Angels by Kristien Hemmerechts

    "Margot and the Angels" is a poignant story about a woman who, after losing her husband and children in a car accident, is left to navigate life on her own. As she grapples with her grief, she finds solace in the company of three angels who appear to her. The angels help her make sense of her tragedy, guiding her towards acceptance and healing. The book explores themes of loss, grief, resilience, and the power of faith, offering a compelling exploration of the human capacity to endure and find hope amidst despair.

  3. 3. War And Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans

    "War and Turpentine" by Stefan Hertmans is a historical novel that follows the life of the author's grandfather, Urbain Martien, who lived through both World War I and II. The book is divided into three parts: Urbain's childhood in poverty-stricken Belgium, his experiences as a soldier in WWI, and his life as a struggling artist after the war. The novel explores themes of love, loss, and the impact of war on individuals and society. Through Martien's story, Hertmans paints a vivid picture of a bygone era and the struggles faced by those who lived through it.

  4. 4. Fear And Trembling by Amélie Nothomb

    The book is a psychological exploration of the clash between Western and Eastern business cultures, as seen through the eyes of a young Belgian woman working for a major Japanese corporation in Tokyo. The protagonist's initial fascination with the company's traditional Japanese corporate culture turns into a harrowing psychological ordeal as she confronts extreme work ethic, rigid hierarchies, and the challenge of maintaining her identity in the face of overwhelming conformity. Through her experiences, the novel delves into themes of alienation, the search for self, and the often surreal nature of cross-cultural encounters.

  5. 5. Hygiene And The Assassin by Amélie Nothomb

    The book revolves around the final days of a Nobel Prize-winning author who, after being diagnosed with a terminal illness, agrees to a series of interviews having shunned public attention for decades. Known for his misanthropy and biting intellect, the author engages in verbal sparring with the journalists, each encounter more intense than the last. However, when a particularly astute and persistent female journalist enters the fray, the conversation takes an unexpected turn, leading to startling revelations about the author's past and the true nature of his controversial works. The narrative delves into themes of truth, deception, and the power dynamics inherent in the creation and interpretation of literature.

  6. 6. The Character Of Rain by Amélie Nothomb

    The book is a semi-autobiographical novel that explores the early years of a young girl born in Japan to Belgian parents. It delves into the protagonist's experiences and perceptions from her infancy through her toddler years, presenting a philosophical and introspective look at the development of consciousness and identity. The narrative is characterized by its exploration of the Japanese concept of 'the third brother,' which symbolizes the child's pre-linguistic state of purity and potential, and the transition from this state to becoming a sentient individual with a unique character shaped by cultural and familial influences. The story is a blend of whimsy and depth, reflecting on the nature of being and the transformative journey of self-discovery from the earliest moments of life.

  7. 7. Tokyo Fiancée by Amélie Nothomb

    The book is a semi-autobiographical novel that delves into the complexities of cultural identity and love. It follows a young Belgian woman who, infatuated with Japanese culture, returns to Tokyo with the intention of immersing herself in the language and lifestyle. She begins a romantic relationship with a Japanese man, which becomes a conduit through which she explores the nuances of cross-cultural understanding and personal identity. As their relationship deepens, the couple navigates the challenges posed by their different backgrounds, leading to a poignant exploration of the intersection between desire, belonging, and the search for self amidst the backdrop of a bustling, enigmatic Tokyo.

Reading Statistics

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If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

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