Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Coming Up on Vulpes Libris: Writing about Refugees

20150918_142755There might be urban foxes in the docks area of Brussels, but I doubt it at the moment. There’s a long sliver of a park there, with a playground and football pitches, between Gare du Nord, the red light district and the canal. For the past three weeks its been filled with over 1000 refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Eritrea. The camp came into being by the efforts of a small group of volunteers active in the ‘sans-papiers’ movement, helping asylum seekers with housing and food, and when the flood of refugees arriving in Europe from the south and south-east reached Europe’s political capital, they set up the camp. Belgians have long memories about refugees: they have family members who were refugees during the Second and First World Wars, and they have long welcomed refugees from the former Belgian colonies of the Congo and the DRC. The sustained generosity and volunteer effort from Belgians to help today’s refugees is staggering (I’ve been sorting the mountains of donated clothes and tents), especially when you think of how utterly useless the response of Europe’s leaders has been to find a unified political response to help. How can the people’s will be so strongly different from the apparent will of those we’ve elected to represent us? The BookFoxes have allowed me to hijack our normally non-political site with a week of writing about, and by, refugees.

Monday: Kirsty D returns to Lloyd Jones’s Hand Me Down World and finds a renewed relevance in his story of a woman being smuggled into Europe.

Wednesday: Jackie explores the universality of displacement in Benjamin Zephaniah’s poem We Refugees.

Friday: In a VL Classic, Hilary revisits her review of Marjane Satrapi’s account of her experience as a refugee, Persepolis.

The photo is of the community-built kitchen and canteen at the Parc Maximilien camp in Brussels, constructed from donated wooden pallets, staffed by volunteer cooks, supported by donations of food and cash, cleared up after by camp volunteers, enjoyed and used by the camp refugees and volunteers together, day and night, over the past three weeks.

About Kate

Blogger, lecturer, podcaster, writer, critic, reviewer, researcher, and publisher (, in and on British literary history. Preferred occupation while listening to podcasts: cooking or knitting. Preferred soundtrack while reading: the sound of silence.

2 comments on “Coming Up on Vulpes Libris: Writing about Refugees

  1. Pingback: About “Vulpes Libris” and refugees | Sketches and Vignettes from la Dordogne

  2. Pingback: About Vulpes Libris and Refugees (bis) | Sketches and Vignettes from la Dordogne

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This entry was posted on September 20, 2015 by in Coming up this week, Entries by Kate, Refugee Writing.



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  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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