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A boy growing up on a farm, under the spell of a restless longing for the unknown

The People Healer

Koen Peeters

Halfway through the 20th century, a boy named Remi spends his childhood days on a farm in the Belgian Westhoek, near the French border. Uncle Marcel whispers strange, fiercely moving stories about the war, a daemon and a black soldier into his ears.

The tales of that Congolese soldier never loosen their grip on Remi. His susceptibility to mesmeric ceremonies means that, against all expectations, he does not take over from his father on the family farm, but joins the Jesuits out of a desire to heal the wounded. Later, he travels to the Congo to learn about the language, rites and healing texts there. On his return from Africa, he becomes a professor of anthropology.

For Koen, his former student, Remi’s life story acts as a springboard, as Koen follows in his old teacher’s footsteps through the Westhoek to the Congo.

In a style that’s crystal clear, Peeters performs nothing short of literary magic *****
De Volkskrant

‘The People Healer’ is a novel about the invisible forces that guide people’s lives, and about the immutability of those forces. The First World War, Belgian colonialism in the Congo, and the present day are all woven into the fabric of the story.

The storylines Koen Peeters sketches, starting in the Westhoek, eventually converge in a quest to fulfil a longing that every person feels, no matter where they are in the world: to discover oneself and to give meaning to one’s own life.

This novel again shows that Peeters is one of our most refined authors ****
Het Nieuwsblad
A stunning novel... a story that transcends countries, eras and cultures