Guy Vaes

Belgium

(Antwerp, 1927-2012) He was a Belgian author whose magic realist fiction has roots in modern psychological investigation and the existentialist notions of alienation. Fond of English Literature and of the fantastic genre, he was deeply influenced by the works of Woolf, Melville, Stevenson, Verne, Faulkner and Kafka. In forty years he published several novels, poetry, and essays written in French. He became famous with Octobre long dimanche (1956; tr. October Long Sunday, Peter Lang,1997), a book praised by the kind of Julio Cortazar and Pascal Pia, considered the masterpiece of European magical realism. He then dedicated his career to essays, going back to writing novels only later on in his career. Among his books are: L’Envers (1983), L’Usurpateur (1994), Les Apparences (2001), and Les Stratèges (2002). These titles met with renewed critical acclaim. An accomplished photographer, Vaes was also a film critic for the Brussels magazine Spécial, and his reviews were published in 2007 as 111 Films: chroniques de cinema (1970-1983).


 

  • Octobre, long dimanche (October, Long Sunday) Original: French / First Edition: 1956 / Publisher: Plon / Pages: 356 /Rights: World

First published in 1956 by Plon, October, Long Sunday is considered a master piece of the Magic Realism. It tells the story of Laurent Carteras, a sensitive and cultured young man, who gradually discovers that friends and colleagues no longer recognize him. The novel explores Laurent’s tormented consciousness as he moves towards an extraordinary destiny. In this poetic and intriguing narrative of mental and physical metamorphosis, the Belgian author Guy Vaes displays a mastery of both realistic and fantastic forms that reflect many of the exciting innovations of modern European fiction.

I have read your book all in one gulp. I felt as someone who nearly drowned and, while grasping for air, was overcame by a sense of nostalgia for that state of almost death where the past flashes before one´s eyes and the future dwindles and turns into ashes and silence. […] I was trapped by this feeling for hours and froze in dismay at the thought of having discovered a writer whose blood was the blood of a king. Letter by JULIO CORTAZAR

Octobre, long dimanche is an experimental novel on the style of Le voyeur by M.Robbe-Grillet. However, Vaes´skills far surpass the ones of Robbe-Grillet. While I struggled through Grillet’s books, I devoured Vaes’. PASCAL PÍA

  • L’envers (The other from Antwerp) Original: French / First Edition: 1983 / Publisher: Jacques Antoine Bruxelles / Pages: 272/ Rights: World

Winner of the Prix Victor Rossel

Bruno Wölfin, a man from Anversa who is married to an Englishwoman, has a special connection with Broderick Mattheson, an art lover who teaches him how to understand what lies behind a painting. One day, while touring Skye island, Bruno falls off a cliff. His friends jump on a boat and begin to search for his body, not succeeding due to the arrival of a heavy storm. Four years later, his wife returns to the place of the accident and finds his body behind a rock: Bruno still breathes! They take him to a hospital in London and Bruno wakes up from what appears to have been a nightmare: he is resuscitated. An unusual, metaphysical book, filled with mystery that talks about a walking dead and explores the concept of “limits.”  Clearly influenced by the works of fantasy English writers and German romanticism, this novel bounces between dream and reality, the everyday and the afterlife, life and death.

  • L’usurpateur (The Usurper) Original: French / First Edition: 1994 / Publisher: Labor Bruxelles / Pages: 208 / Rights: World

Story of a life consumed by obsession. Hans Feldsohn is trapped in a dark vortex for nearly fifty years due to an event that marked him as a teenager: during a costume party, he was assaulted and raped by an androgynous Harlequin. But the most disturbing thing is that it’s all just a vague memory, blurred by the war and the German invasion. Ambiguous and fascinating, this novel is almost a meditation about the power of the mind and the ghosts that haunt the frontiers of identity.

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