Apr 17

2017 Epic Reads: The Misfortunates


As you know, the new year brought a new reading challenge for me. The plan is to read my way around Europe with a selection of YA novels.



The goal of the 2017 Epic Read project is twofold: a tour of Europe, before Little Englanders try to uproot the country and sail off into some imagined Utopia, and read more children’s books. Yet, I also want to reward myself with occasional books I want to read.


This title is part of my European tour, which has arrived in Belgium. The Misfortunates by Dimitri Verhulst is published by Portobello Books. The website describes it as follows:


Sobriety and moderation are alien concepts to the men in Dimmy’s family. Useless in all other respects, his three uncles have a rare talent for drinking, a flair for violence, and an unwavering commitment to the pub. And his father Pierre is no slouch either. Within hours of his son’s birth, Pierre plucks him from the maternity ward, props him on his bike, and takes him on an introductory tour of the village bars. His mother soon leaves them to it and as Dimmy grows up amid the stench of stale beer, he seems destined to follow the path of his forebears and make a low-life career in inebriation, until he begins to piece together his own plan for the future… In this semi-autobiographical novel, Dimitri Verhulst brings his shambolic upbringing to life, with characteristic warmth, colour, and wit.


Read more at Portobello Books.


This book was definitely outside my comfort zone. It is a strange mix of short stories, which slowly coalesce into a semi-autobiographical novel. The subject matter is far from what I normally read. Yet, I enjoyed the powerful characters who burst from the pages. This is not the Belgium a tourist would see, but still offers insight into the broader culture. Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I am unlikely to search for more books by Verhulst.


Where next?

So, with another European country visited, it is time for a children’s book. I am sure I can find something to read on the boys’ shelves. My next European destination is Bosnia. The cycle continues.



Happy Reading



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