Geert Buelens and duo Edward van de Vendel and Anoush Elman win Flemish Boon Literature Prizes 2023


The Boon Prizes crown both children's and youth literature and adult literature in our language area. This year, Geert Buelens and the duo Edward van de Vendel and Anoush Elman win, respectively with 'Wat we toen al wisten' and 'Misjka'.

Geert Buelens is a Flemish poet and professor of Dutch literature. A surprising laureate, in the sense that a fairly major literary prize rarely goes to a non-fiction book. Wat we toen al wisten refers to the year 1972, when numerous scientists, technocrats and entrepreneurs for the first time, most notably in the Club of Rome, predicted us an alarming climate future if policies remained unchanged. Unfortunately, a little later we were overwhelmed by the oil crisis and lulled to sleep by consumerism. Before the weather improves, it has to get much worse, the author too knows. But masterfully he transcends the one-sidedly dark tenor of the other climate books submitted for the Bean Prizes and weaves it all into one profound, eminently readable and widely spaced cultural history that matters.

Misjka, by Edward van de Vendel and Anoush Elman with tender illustrations by Annet Schaap, is another curious but equally deserving winner. After years of wandering from one asylum centre to another, the Afghan refugee family finally comes to rest in a home of their own, where everyone finds comfort in their own way with the fluffy dwarf rabbit Misjka. A sensitive theme, artfully and light-heartedly described.