20 March 08 | Chad W. Post

Hugo Claus, one of Belgium’s most respected writers, passed away yesterday, reportedly of euthanasia.

Claus produced some 200 works during his career but was best known for his classic, The Sorrow of Belgium—a scathing attack on social injustice, stifling family relationships and Roman Catholic repression in his native Flanders in northern Belgium. [. . .]

Often writing out of anger and guilt, Claus relied on pitiless realism in his work.

“I am a person who is unhappy with things as they stand. We cannot accept the world as it is. Each day we should wake up foaming at the mouth because of the injustice of things,” he said in a magazine interview more than a decade ago. [. . .]

Throughout his life, Claus was a reluctant Belgian despite the increasing adulation at home as one of the prime men of letters in the Dutch language. But he said being from Belgium — the laughingstock of the French and Dutch alike — was a great advantage to his writing since he never was restrained by any sense of grandeur.

In addition to Sorrow of Belgium (which is available from Overlook) , a few of his other titles are available in English translation, and Archipelago has plans to bring out Amazement in a translation by Michael Henry Heim.

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