Today, on the third day of the Berlinale Co-Production Market, 11 literary works are to be presented during Books at Berlinale, a literary rights market where representatives from publishing houses and literary agents will pitch books that would make good films. One of the eleven projects is The Latecomer, the newest novel by Dimitri Verhulst, Flemish author of The Misfortunates.

The MisfortunatesBooks at Berlinale, organised by the Berlinale and the Frankfurter Buchmesse since 2006, is the first literary rights market at an international A-festival and offers producers and filmmakers a chance to discover novels suited for film adaptations. The pitching sessions are followed by a networking get-together, giving them the chance to meet with rights-holders and to cultivate contacts or even to option film rights directly.

Over 120 books from more than 25 countries were submitted for Books at Berlinale this year, with only 11 of them making the final call. One of them is The Latecomer by Flemish writer Dimitri Verhulst. The book tells the story of a man called Désiré Cordier, who takes his revenge on his dull, loveless, ordinary existence by pretending he is suffering from dementia. He regains the self-esteem he has lost in his marriage when, one unforgettable day, hale and hearty, he is placed in a home for senile senior citizens. There, he takes everyone in by pretending to be a demented, incontinent old codger nearing the end of his days. The role of his life. And the situation becomes even more promising when a former childhood sweetheart suddenly turns up in the home.

Dimitri Verhulst is among the most prominent writers in Flanders and the Netherlands. He was first published in 1999 and has been producing a stream of novels, poetry and plays ever since. His work is published in more than 20 languages all over the world. In 2009 Felix van Groeningen filmed The Misfortunates, an adaptation of Verhulst’s novel which won also earned him the Golden Owl Public Award. The Irish Times declared the English edition one of the best books of 2012. Verhulst also won the Libris Literature Prize for Goddamn Days on a Goddamn Globe. Problemski Hotel, published in 2003, is also set to be adapted for film.

Published on Tuesday 11 February 2014