Books recovered

In 2003, The Observer’s book critic Robert McCrum published a list of “the 100 greatest novels of all time”. The list, which ran from the Spanish classic Don Quixote (cover left) to W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz (cover below), sparked off an intense debate in the British press. Now the Antwerp graphic artist Tom Haentjens has brought together 100 artists from 28 countries in a unique art project to create new covers for McCrum’s 100 novels. The aim of the project, called Doedemee, is not just to repackage old classics in new covers but to raise standards of literacy. The 100 covers were exhibited in Antwerp’s town hall on International Literacy Day, 8 September 2012. The project is now being supported by UNESCO as a way of promoting reading. The 100 works provide a fascinating insight into contemporary design trends. But they also give readers an authoritative list of titles to pick up at their local bookshop. McCrum’s list is inevitably slanted towards British and American fiction. Those from the Low Countries may be disappointed to find that there are no classics of Dutch or Flemish literature among the 100 best reads. The 100 covers can be seen at Doedemee’s online gallery. www.doedemee.be/showcase/.

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