The Misfortunates

Dimitri Verhulst

Published: 3 January 2013
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 208 pages
ISBN: 9781846271595

Translated by David Colmer


Sobriety and moderation are alien concepts to the men in Dimmy's family. Useless in all other respects, his three uncles have a rare talent for drinking, a flair for violence, and an unwavering commitment to the pub. And his father Pierre is no slouch either. Within hours of his son's birth, Pierre plucks him from the maternity ward, props him on his bike, and takes him on an introductory tour of the village bars. His mother soon leaves them to it and as Dimmy grows up amid the stench of stale beer, he seems destined to follow the path of his forebears and make a low-life career in inebriation, until he begins to piece together his own plan for the future... In this semi-autobiographical novel, Dimitri Verhulst brings his shambolic upbringing to life, with characteristic warmth, colour, and wit.

About the author

Image of Dimitri Verhulst

Born in Belgium in 1972, Dimitri Verhulst is the author of a collection of short stories, a volume of poetry and several novels, including Problemski Hotel (Marion Boyars) which was translated into English in 2003. All his books are widely translated in Europe and receive a lot of critical praise More about the author


‘A writer with an understanding of those who fail, [who] writes acutely and authentically’



‘Ceaselessly entertaining... it bursts with humour and energy that never lets up. Even when the novel makes you want to cry, it makes you want to laugh at the same time... Fantastic’ Fran Slater

‘Probably one of the most sensitive, most poetic of the new young Flemish writers. But none of his contemporaries has the same hardness. Sometimes his pen comes down like a hammer’

‘Rich [and] ribald’

‘The odd, ugly, excremental poetry of their grubby lives can be unexpectedly tender as well as uncomfortably funny... It takes an exceptional writer to wring beauty from such material, but Verhulst manages it... this novel continually surprises and intrigues’ Gerard Woodward

‘Unusual on several levels... The fluency and increasingly morose edginess are brilliantly conveyed by David Colmer, the book's translator... Outrageousness yields to eloquence in [this] darkly intelligent novel’ Eileen Battersby

‘Verhulst's distinctive voice, childlike and knowing at the same time, is resonant. His savage humour is refreshing in its honesty... this is a welcome addition to the ranks of literary fiction that find humour, and sometimes poetry, in urban deprivation’ Lucy Popescu

‘Verhulst's prose is always a delight ... This is a subtle and wonderfully told story’ Simon Kuper

‘Verhulst's semi-autobiographical romp set somewhere in Belgium begins raucously but gathers unexpected emotional force’ Books of the Year

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