Bart Moeyaert was born in Brugge in 1964 and is one of the most highly regarded Flemish children’s and young people’s book authors. By the age of 19 he had written his first children’s book ‘Duet met valse noten’ (1983) which became an international bestseller. He achieved his literary breakthrough in 1989 with his young people’s novel ‘Suzanne Dantine’, which he re-published in 1997 under the title of ‘Wasps’ Nest’. Here Moeyaert tells the story of the blossoming love between the young Suzanne and a puppet player during a grotesque village argument about an annoying dog compound. On a swelteringly hot summer day the girl must decide whether she will finally have it out with her mother and deal with the argument which has been brewing for so long. In this novel all of the characteristics which mark Moeyaert’s work can already be found: in concise, crystal clear language and with great denseness, he deals with controversial, often sad, melancholic topics. With only few words he can pr ecisely sketch the emotional world of his young pr otagonists, in a laconic way which always only reveals the tip of the iceberg.
In 1995 Moeyaert’s sensation causing tragedy ‘Blote Handen’ (Engl: Bare Hands) followed, a piece about the emergence of supposed senseless violence and at the same time a keen study on childish-adolescent loneliness which was, amongst others, awarded with the ‘Boekenleeuw’ and the ‘Zilveren Griffel’ 1996 and the ‘Deutsche Jugendliteratur pr eis’ in 1998.
In Moeyaert’s pr ose, the critics pr aise above all the “timely placing of breaks and a trust in the effects of pictures and pauses, of hints, half sentences and empty spaces”. This is also the case in his novel ‘Het is de liefde die we niet begrijpen’ (1999, Engl: It is love, that we can’t com pr ehend), momentary images of a family told from the perspective of a young girl. In three “parables of the extraordinary variety of what is referred to as love”, the longing for love and security is reflected but also the intense feeling of belonging together between sisters and brothers. Bart Moeyaert also writes television scripts and theatre pieces. He has realized several theatre pr ojects including ‘Luna van de boom’ (2000) based on an old Slovakian story for which he won the ‘Gouden Uil’ in 2001. He has also adapted stories about himself and his six older brothers, ‘Broere’ (2000) for the theatre and published this as a book, for which he won the renowned Woutertjie Pieterse Prijs in 2001. In the form of miniatures, often consisting of only a few pages, Moeyaert poetically draws magic and adventure out of seemingly mediocre moments in his and his six brothers’ childhoods.
He worked together with the pr ize-winning illustrator Wolf Erlbruch on the picture-books ‘De Schepping’ (2003, Engl: At the Beginning), and ‘Olek schoot een beer’ (2006, Engl: Olek shot a bear), based on Igor Stravinsky’s famous ballet piece, ‘Der Feuervogel’. It was awarded the “Die besten 7” (September 2006) and “Kröte des Monats” (September 2006). The book “De Schepping” tells in “language infused with a cautious irony” (Die Zeit) of the creation of the world, through which a “world of surreal fantasy” (Süddeutsche Zeitung) is opened up to the reader. Moeyaert’s sentences of “great simplicity and high visual clarity” (Die Zeit) lead the reader step by step through the creation story. Bart Moeyaert received the Luchs des Jahres 2003 and the Katholischer Kinder- und Jugendbuch pr eis 2004 for this work.
Bart Moeyaert has also been pr aised internationally for his captivating narrative style. He has been nominated many times (1993, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006) for the renowned ‘Hans Christian Anderson Award’ and the ‘Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award’ (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008).
© international literature festival berlin