Tag Archives: Bob Van Laerhoven

A-R International … Self-Isolating Authors Edition: Part 3

This is the third part of a series in which Authors I’ve promoted in the Authors-Readers International series tell Readers what they’ve been doing during these past few months of self-isolating … See the introduction to Part 1 for a further explanation. Here is the link to Part 2. (All links on the authors’ names will take you to their A-RI promotion.)

Aritha van Herk

From an email sent in April: What a change since you were here in Calgary. The city has now virtually ground to a halt, the university is closed (even the library), and everyone is holding their breath about when the COVID-19 cases will go through the roof. So I am teaching on line, and trying to develop my skill with ZOOM. The students are distressed, but the university is doing all we can to get them through their year. But these last months will be tough. However, ZOOM brings all the students on line together, and all I have to do is be sure that I am twice as prepared as usual.

However, other constraints. No more travelling inside or outside of Canada until September, decrees the university, so all my trips are cancelled. I must say, Air Canada has been fantastic, even though they are taking an economic killing.

Trying to finish a book!

Aritha van Herk published an opinion piece in The Calgary Herald on April 9: COVID-19: The future is here, now we must be resilient, nimble and smart

Tim Baker

Tim Baker has been working from home in Flagler Beach, Florida, since self-isolating began, and posts photos regularly of this new “office” and comments on the hijinx of all his co-workers …

 

Working from home – one of my co-workers is posting…

 

 

 

Working from home – it’s bring your child to work day.

 

 

 

 

 

Tim also wrote a blog post titled How I Spent My Corona Virus Isolation about finishing and editing his next novel.

And since his weekly Friday night radio show on Surf 97.3 had been on hiatus due to the virus lockdown, it was with great excitement that he and his co-DJ, Fizz Ed, returned to broadcasting again a couple of weeks ago, with the addition of in-studio video via Facebook! Well, there was great excitement here on our verandah on Bequia, at least, as we enjoy listening in every week. Dennis even managed to stay awake for most of the show … You can check out their Facebook page for past videos here, The Friday Night Music Extravaganza feat: Fizz Ed & Tim Baker, and tune in to listen to the station online here at Surf 97.3 every Friday evening from 7-10 ET.

Sheree Fitch

Sheree Fitch has been busy doing a lot of readings of her books online. She created a video for the Halifax Public Library and a series of podcasts created for VoicEd Radio. (Scroll down that page for the complete list of podcasts.)
It was just announced that Sheree Fitch’s book, Everybody’s Different on Everybody Street, is among the finalits for the 2020 Atlantic Book Awards!

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, Sheree had to keep her bookstore, Mable Murple’s Book Shoppe and Dreamery, closed for the time being. Here’s her explanation of that decision from Facebook:

Gulp. Gulp. Gulp-able purple news from us to you.
(But only temporary! So smiling … onwards. Not sad, just joy–delayed. Gilles and I will cherish this unexpected gift of time and our summer together!) Here goes:
I’ve put this one off—hoping, waiting, but knowing, really, what had to be done. We said we would let people know by the first week in May. The thing is, Mabel Murple’s Book Shoppe and Dreamery, for the past three magical years, has been a gathering place – a people place: in the shop, under the fairy tree, huddled around the animals, sitting at picnic tables, in school desks, and cuddled in booknooks. This is a place we are elbow to elbow and cheek to cheek, and we HUG. A lot. (You’ve let me hold and squeeze your babies and kids.) I joked that every time that screen door squeaked open, seemed like Love walked in the door. Corny, maybe, but t-r-u-e. And you’ve bought books. Good ones. Canadian books and others. Over nine weeks every year since 2017 thousands of people, hundreds a day, have come to this little book shop on a dirt road in the village of River John. Which is SOOO good except for this summer? Maybe not so much. Among other events and festivals, Wordplay and Read By the Sea is cancelled and we know tourism will be down.
We are more of a “social” enterprise” than regular business and so for us, “social” distancing will not work here. Not in any way that to me would make sense and be safe this summer. Mabel Murple’s is not an online business taking orders for mailing or delivering books.
It’s all about coming here to enjoy the purple world we’ve created. Community.
I cannot imagine us saying, “no touching books and then putting them back on shelves” – that is what “browsing” for books means.
I cannot imagine not hugging and squeezing babies and no kids on my knees.
It is not who we are.
Truthfully, we don’t want to change the spirit of our place. And yes, honestly, too, we just could not afford to open and not have people coming as freely as they did in our little spaces.
So , it’s official, Mabel Murple’s will not be opening this season BUT .. YES YES YES WE WILL OPEN NEXT YEAR, ( all will be okay by then, we hope) so gear up for a super summer time in 2021.
What you can do ! Read BOOKS and please plan your vacation to come next year!
Purple on, our wonderful book-loving storytelling purple people pals. And yep, Love one another.

Bob Van Laerhovn

(translated from Flemish)

Sometimes it takes years before a man some aspect of themselves begins to understand. And sometimes you need someone else to put you on the right track. In my very personal story The Flower-Woman Eating & Me, which appeared on page 50 of the May issue of Electric Press – Literary Insights Magazine reveals how confrontational it can be.

You can read a free digital version of the magazine through this link at ISSUU. Please be patient. Note: It does not load that fast.

(I asked Bob to send me photos of his horses to add to this update and here’s what he had to say about that …)

In attachment, you’ll find some pictures of the horses (beautiful) and me (ugly) J. The lockdown didn’t change much for Caroline and me. As you probably know, Caroline is an equitherapist, and I am the stable boy/groomer/dung remover/meal preparer. J

Although the corona quarantine only allowed one patient per day, we were very busy with repairs and upgrades of our summer and winter stables, paddocks, race-track, etc.

We used the extra time to bond even more with our four darlings: Bruja, aka The Queen, Tina aka The Red Rooster, Archimeda aka The Lady, and Amani, aka Prince of the Desert.

Now, things are slowly getting back to normal, over here in Belgium.

The pictures were confronting for me: it was very sunny, so I squint a lot. I’ve become a grey old man ravaged by bacterial arthritis. I haven’t been able to work out for more than two months now – all fitness centres are closed – and it is surprising – and frightening – to see how quickly one declines.

Or maybe, my ego is just too big, and I can’t accept that I will be 67 over two months J J J (You’re still oungr than I am, Bob, by almost a month!!)

I hope everything is alright in your “bubble.” (What a word they invented for all this social distancing).

And let’s pray for a better future.

All the very best,
Bob Van Laerhoven – Belgium / Flanders

Barb Howard

Thanks for all you’re doing – especially in a pandemic! Hope you continue to stay healthy and safe in Bequia. I didn’t think I was getting much accomplished during these last few months but your note prompted me to reflect and, turns out, I got some stuff done. Granted, not the stuff that needs to be done like cleaning the closet in my office, but some other stuff. I don’t have any links to the info below…sorry…not very interactive, yet.

I’ve been a lucky person during these initial months of the pandemic because my main job is to stay home. No essential work being done by me! My work with Calgary Arts Development and other boards ramped up because many artists and arts organizations have been hard hit by the measures put in place to keep us safe from Covid19. I haven’t started any big new projects of my own, but I did successfully work on a few older stalled-out projects. I finished an essay about my piano playing, perhaps because I have been playing the piano more during this time. I’m now reworking an older essay about a unicycle. And I finished the edits for a story that will come out through Calgary’s Loft 112’s Long Lunch Quick Read series next month. I have a book review of Truth Be Told by retired SCC Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin coming out in the July/August issue of Alberta Views Magazine. Best of all, I signed a contract with University of Calgary Press (Brave and Brilliant imprint) for my new novella. I think it will be coming out in 2021 or 2022.

And, okay, the real highlight of my last few months is that a teeny story of mine will be printed on some Blindman Brewing beer cans this summer. Cheers!

A-R International: Bob Van Laerhoven

Bob Van Laerhoven
Authors-Readers International


A fulltime Belgian/Flemish author, I made my debut as a novelist in 1985 with the novel Nachtspel (Night Game) and quickly became known in Flanders for my ‘un-Flemish’ style and my kaleidoscopic novels in which the fate of the individual is closely related to broad social transformations. I became a full-time author in 1991. As a freelance travel writer I explored conflicts and trouble-spots across the globe from 1990 to 2003: Somalia, Liberia, Sudan, Gaza, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar, Lebanon, Mozambique, Burundi… to name but a few.

During the Bosnian war I spent part of 1992 in the besieged city of Sarajevo. Three years later I was working for MSF – Doctors without frontiers – in the Bosnian city of Tuzla during the NATO bombings. At that moment the refugees arrived from the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. I was the first writer from the Low Countries who had the opportunity to speak with the refugees. These conversations resulted in a travel book: Srebrenica – getuigen van massamoord (Srebrenica. Testimony to a Mass Murder). The book denounces the murder and torture of the Muslim population of this Bosnian-Serbian enclave and is based on first-hand testimonies. I concluded that mass murders took place, a notion that was questioned at the time but later was proven accurate.

In 2007 I won the Hercule Poirot Prize for the best mystery novel of the year with De wraak van Baudelaire. In 2013, the French translation La Vengeance de Baudelaire was published in France and in Canada. The English translation, Baudelaire’s Revenge, was published in the US by Pegasus Books in 2014. Also in 2014 came the publication in France and in Canada of Le Mensonge d’Alejandro (Alejandro’s Lie), a second novel in French translation. Baudelaire’s Revenge won the USA Best Book Award 2014 in the category “mystery/suspense”. In April 2015, The Anaphora Literary Press released the collection of short stories Dangerous Obsessions in paperback and in e-book. Both Heart Fever, a short story collection, and the mystery/thriller, Return to Hiroshima, were released in English editions in 2018.

~

I discovered the writing of Bob Van Laerhoven when fellow-author Jack Eason promoted his longtime friend. I took particular note of Van Laerhoven, because he is Flemish-Belgian, just like my grandparents and mother who emigrated to Canada from Belgium in 1919. (I wrote about my grandfather previously on this blog.) Bob has been a great correspondent with me since I first promoted him on Reading Recommendations, giving me a connection to my “roots”, so to speak, to a country and culture I’ve never had the opportunity to visit in person. Everything I know about Belgium came from my mother and grandparents (including the Flemish swear words I’ve used in a couple of short stories I wrote that Bob has so kindly corrected the spelling for me). He has also read and reviewed my published work, for which I am forever grateful. Of his writing, I have read everything in English I’ve been able to purchase, and Bob has filled in the gaps with a few pieces that were translated but not yet published in English. He is a powerful writer – gritty, down-to-earth, and a no-holds-barred kind of writer. He is also a master of this craft of writing. Bob Van Laerhoven definitely deserves more attention! So I hope readers of this post will now have a closer look. (Plus, Bob loves horses, as did my own grandfather!)

~

Return to Hiroshima
1995, Japan struggles with a severe economic crisis. Fate brings a number of people together in Hiroshima in a confrontation with dramatic consequences. Xavier Douterloigne, the son of a Belgian diplomat, returns to the city, where he spent his youth, to come to terms with the death of his sister. Inspector Takeda finds a deformed baby lying dead at the foot of the Peace Monument, a reminder of Hiroshima’s war history. A Yakuza-lord, rumored to be the incarnation of the Japanese demon Rokurobei, mercilessly defends his criminal empire against his daughter Mitsuko, whom he considers insane. And the punk author Reizo, obsessed by the ultra-nationalistic ideals of his literary idol Mishima, recoils at nothing to write the novel that will “overturn Japan’s foundations”….
Hiroshima’s indelible war-past simmers in the background of this ultra-noir novel. Clandestine experiments conducted by Japanese Secret Service Unit 731 during WWII become unveiled and leave a sinister stain on the reputation of the imperial family and the Japanese society as a whole.

Here’s a terrific interview with Bob Van Laerhoven conducted by The Hard Hat Book Site and a review of Return to Hiroshima on the same blog.

Here’s another interview with Bob Van Laerhoven speaking about his work in a podcast with David Brower.

Bob Van Laerhoven was a guest on The Story Reading Ape‘s blog, and on this blog of mine, as well.

You may find out more about Bob Van Laerhoven’s books (including all editions available in various languages, on his website.

Bob Van Laerhoven has been a frequent guest on Reading Recommendations, beginning in April, 2015.

Bob Van Laerhoven – “Brussels, You’re Very Sick”

I’ve received permission from Belgian author Bob Van Laerhovenh to repost something he wrote in a newsletter sent out yesterday to his subscribers that I found to be poignant and insightful. He had recently written a guest post for the site Murder is Everywhere about the terrorist attacks on Brussels on March. 22. There’s a link below to this article, “Brussels, You’re Very Sick”. I urge you all to take some time and read what Bob has to say, because he knows of what he speaks – Bio below**. (Bob was previously promoted on Reading Recommendations in April 2015.)

c-studio-schrever

In my guest blog “Brussels, You’re Very Sick,” written last week and published on Saturday 9/04 on the international blog site Murder is Everywhere, I asked myself if Belgium will be able to cope adequately with the “new reality” after the terrorist attacks on 22/03 in Brussels Airport and the metro of Maelbeek.

Coping with the ongoing threat of terrorist attacks has to be done quickly, because, in the aftermath of the tragedy, it became clear that Belgium, although a “logical target” for Islam extremists, was very ill prepared for an attack. In the world press, Brussels got nicknamed the “European capital of Jihadists,” when it became clear that Belgium’s State Security Department hadn’t noticed that, right under its nose, in some of the rather sinister municipalities of Brussels, a network of Islam terrorists had planned attacks in Europe, gathered weapons and raw materials for bombs, and studied possible targets. Belgium was labeled a “failed state.”

In the light of the arrests since Saturday 9/04, and the dismantling of the terrorist network in Brussels, it seems that Belgium has learned its lesson fast.

Seems.

Because, in the wake of the new arrests, stories simmer of Jihadists who had been identified for quite some time but left undisturbed by the Belgian Police, some of them even arrested before, but set free again.

I know it’s easy to critique police work, and successes have been achieved, but it can’t be a coincidence that Brussels was chosen by Jihadists to prepare for their apocalyptical delusions.

One thing is for sure: after some 70 years of peace, Belgium, just like the rest of the European Union, is entering a situation that will definitely affect our society, our politics, our values, our way of life, and our security.

Kind regards,

Bob Van Laerhoven – Belgium

**A fulltime Belgian/Flemish author, I made my debut as a novelist in 1985 with the novel Nachtspel (Night Game) and quickly became known in Flanders for my ‘un-Flemish’ style and my kaleidoscopic novels in which the fate of the individual is closely related to broad social transformations. I became a full-time author in 1991. As a freelance travel writer I explored conflicts and trouble-spots across the globe from 1990 to 2003: Somalia, Liberia, Sudan, Gaza, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar, Lebanon, Mozambique, Burundi… to name but a few.

During the Bosnian war I spent part of 1992 in the besieged city of Sarajevo. Three years later I was working for MSF – Doctors without frontiers – in the Bosnian city of Tuzla during the NATO bombings. At that moment the refugees arrived from the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. I was the first writer from the Low Countries who had the opportunity to speak with the refugees. These conversations resulted in a travel book: Srebrenica – getuigen van massamoord (Srebrenica. Testimony to a Mass Murder). The book denounces the murder and torture of the Muslim population of this Bosnian-Serbian enclave and is based on first-hand testimonies. I concluded that mass murders took place, a notion that was questioned at the time but later was proven accurate.