In fifteen wide-ranging stories, Annelies Verbeke examines beginnings and endings, wanting or having to start afresh and the longing for catharsis. Fitness addicts, the residents of an immigrant neighbourhood, adulterers – they’re all hoping for a new beginning. At the same time, there’s an awareness that everybody is mortal, a sense of the approaching Apocalypse, not to mention personal short-comings. ‘Hallelujah’ is a feverish, yet also humorous collection about inevitable loss and the temptation of the clean slate.
Verbeke serves up a steady stream of beautiful sentences and images.De Groene Amsterdammer
In Verbeke’s universe, everything is possible: a young Moroccan bride arrives in Brussels. A professor emeritus looks back on his life. A colicky baby won’t stop wailing. A couple squabbles about cheating. A female author transforms into a bear. An old lady reminisces about her life. A star architect prepares for the Apocalypse. A woman wakes up to another life. A pensioner is galvanised by her care robot. A pair of celebrated classical musicians like to pretend they’re Neanderthals. From the totally banal to the extravagantly extraordinary: Verbeke describes it all with plenty of humour as well as a melancholic undertone.
Stylistically, Verbeke is impressive too: from understated to stirring, from poetic to experimental. *****Het Parool
The characters are incredibly real, even if the stories are often absurd. *****De Volkskrant