Flanders pays tribute to author Jef Geeraerts


Best-selling author Jef Geeraerts, mostly known for his crime fiction, died yesterday at age 85

“The Iggy Pop of Flanders”

Flanders is paying tribute to author Jef Geeraerts, best known for his political thrillers, who died yesterday after a heart attack. He was 85.

Geeraerts (pictured, with his wife Eleonore Vigenon) started his career in the 1960s with his memoirs of life in the Congo, after he was injured in fighting during the country’s struggle for independence from colonial rule. He developed the memoirs into the racy Gangreen series, which became infamous for their sexual content.

Geeraerts found his way into crime fiction in the 1970s, with works such as Diamant (Diamond), De zaak Alzheimer, De pg and Dossier K, some of which were adapted into movies. Geeraerts’ most recent novel, Muziek en emotie (Music and Emotion), was published six years ago.

“Flanders has lost one of its free spirits,” said culture minister Sven Gatz in a statement. “Thanks to his literary style and themes – with a boldness hitherto unseen in the 1960s – Jef Geeraerts added some spice to the Flemish cultural mix. His influence on many authors who came after him cannot be understated.”

“He turned what had been an old-fashioned genre and made it something modern in Flanders,” said fellow crime writer Pieter Aspe. “He grafted the style of Gangreen onto the Flemish crime novel and created something very exciting. He professionalised the genre.”

Geeraerts’ death meant the loss of one of the top three most important post-war Flemish writers, according to author Herman Brusselmans. Geeraerts deserved to be considered as being at least as important a literary figure as Hugo Claus, he said.

“He was a lust for life made flesh, the Iggy Pop of Flanders,” said radio host Lieven Vandenhaute. “You’re never done with his books; there’s too much between the lines. He was a milestone in Flemish literature.”

Photo by Koen Broos/Standaard Uitgeverij