Speechless an emotional read that combines fact and fiction to share the story of the life of author Tom Lanoye’s mother. This is one of the books that has been released in a translated form by World Editions in celebration of Boekenweek. This annual celebration of literature has existed since 1932 and this year is running from March 23rd to March 31st. World Editions is sharing the literature by a variety of contemporary writers from the Netherlands and Belgium for an international audience.
Lanoye’s mother Josee was an indomitable force that brought a level of drama to every day life. As the wife of a butcher she might not have seemed like someone who would be full of passion and excitement, but after retiring she found a way to act and, while the play flopped, she was photographed in such a way that she became a dramatic figure. After a stroke, Josee loses her ability to speak and Lanoye and his father work to cope with with this change. Lanoye and his mother had not always gotten along, especially after his coming out. When she loses her ability to speak and care for herself she must work through relearning how to be who she was and this journey is something that Lanoye shares in great detail.
Throughout Speechless the book moves between stories and moments in a conversational manner. Lanoye opens the book by sharing that there are elements of both fiction and fact meshed together to create his work, but the focus is to celebrate his mother. After her death he felt pushed to commemorate her in some way. Beyond his mother he also shares details of his family life and the people that he remembers from his childhood. There is a great deal of grief tied up in this story, Lanoye’s grief over the death of his mother and also the presence of his father’s grief at the loss of his wife. This grief is shown even before her death as he watches the woman he loves slipping away into a speechless shadow of who she once was. Speechless is emotional and written so fluidly that it will feel as though you are listening to Lanoye share his family story. You can get your copy of Speechless today.