Return to Neerpelt
Lieve Joris has acquired an international reputation as an author of non-fiction travelogues. For many years she travelled around Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and more recently China, and considered the world to be her village. Now she has returned to Flanders, to Neerpelt, to the house by the canal where she grew up as the middle child in a chaotic family of nine. As a young girl, she is drawn to her grandmother, as a teenager she falls under the spell of Fonny, her artistic eldest brother. He unleashes a wind of freedom and shows her a way out of the village, even though he himself remains behind and ends up going off the rails. His decline drives a wedge between her father – to whom he is the Biblical ‘prodigal son’ – and the other children. Fonny divides them, but keeps them together at the same time.
An amazing portraitistLe Monde
Through trial and error, Lieve Joris carves out a place for herself in the world. But she cannot escape the people in the house by the canal. Her native village was a place to get away from, yet her return was always inevitable. As well as a portrait of an era, this family saga also paints the picture of a village girl who, contrary to her predestined course in life, finds her way to writing.
In this beautifully paced and composed autobiographical book, the travel writer revisits the battlefield of her family life.NRC Handelsblad