Belgium is a paradox. Formerly Europe’s battlefield, often threatened with annexation, its capital is now the lung of European institutions. Belgium, however, is marked by separatist impulses. It has become a sort of schizophrenic European laboratory, a nation with deep divisions.

 

The situation is also emblematic on the literary level. Its dual linguistic communities no longer read each other. It’s rare for a book in either language to bridge the cultural divide. Flemish writers almost never have any success with Walloon readers and vice versa. Could Belgian literature ever speak with one voice, united in two languages? Four writers offer their insight.