The misfortunates by Dimitri Verhulst
Translator David Colmer
Dimitri Verhulst is a Belgian writer and he grew up in a broken home and spent a lot of time in foster care .This is often reflected in his fiction .He has written several novel and short stories .The misfortunates ,was made into a film in 2009.The film won a prize in Cannes .
I add the trailer ,which to me seems to capture the character in the book so well .We follow Dimmy the son he is at school and is at a point where he could follow his father and his uncles into a life of drink and misadventures or he could put his head down and study .Now we follow a period as Dimmy begins to see his family are maybe a little different from the normal family .That time as you turn from a child to a teen and a young man ,he is 13 as this happens .
The male members of the Dimmy’s family, Dimmy’s father and his uncle’s Potrel ,Herman and Grider spend a lot of time drinking in the pub and ending up doing thinks because of the drink like having a naked cycle race this made me smile as I love cycling and the fact that grown men decide to copy the men they seen by doing it naked was funny .They did this as Dimmy was getting drawn towards cycling and being more disciplined in his life .Now Will of Just William compared it to Shameless with chips and Mayo .Which I agree with ,I also got visions of saturday night sunday morning and a hard-edged version of the northern Kitchen sink drama relocate to Belgium and scripted by Irvine Welsh . As the quote below shows this is even linked in the book .
It was only later ,when I read Alan Silltoe’s best known work ,The loneliness of the long distance runner ,that I realized that it had been pure logic that had turned me into a runner as a child .
I loved this quote linking his life a bit with Kitchen sink drama classic loneliness of long distance runner .
This book has a feel of a roman a clef slammed with a coming of age novel .I feel this is Dimitri looking back in some ways to the point he became the writer he is now ,a Robert Frost moment take the trodden path that his family has taken or that unknown one that he seems more drawn too .The book can tug at the heartstrings this is a tough world ,but also a world that has a certain pathos to it .
I enjoyed this book ,I felt this was a very realistic book given the writers own history ,I read an interview with him here ,which was interesting in both a small insight into him and also an insight into Belgium .As it is mainly about the Flemish/Wallonia divide that has appeared in recent years in Belgium .I really want to watch the film and hope it gets shown or a uk DVD release which it hasn’t seemed to as of yet .