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Arts and literature

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  • Cover De man met de panamahoed
    Cover De man met de panamahoed

    Harry Kessler was an intellectual dandy, and politics and art were the focus of his life. He defended the arts from every form of political interference. As an arts patron, lover of males, publisher, thinker and writer, he pledged himself to no one and refused to live according to other people’s expectations.

  • Cover James Ensor
    Cover James Ensor
    James Ensor
    A magnificent style – scholarly but vivid and punchy
    Ons Brussel

    James Ensor (1860–1949) was everything in one: cocky and solitary, baron and bohemian, a misunderstood bourgeois, a peintre maudit who surveyed the world from his ivory tower in Ostend and sought refuge in the salons of Brussels. Min peels away the mask of the mythmaker to create a wonderful portrait of this enigmatic and multi-faceted painter.

  • The smells of the cathedral
    The smells of the cathedral
    The Smells of the Cathedral
    De Standaard

    ‘The Smells of the Cathedral’ by art historian Wendy Wauters takes us to one of the hotspots of the sixteenth century: the Church of Our Lady, Antwerp’s ‘cathedral’ ever since 1559. This majestic building was the beating heart of the city, where intensely religious parishioners crossed paths with dogcatchers, pilgrims, and livestock dealers. Religious serenity was sometimes hard to find inside.

  • Art for the Reich
    Art for the Reich
    Art for the Reich
    A wonderful example of art history research of the highest order.

    After eight years of research, Geert Sels has put together the puzzle pieces that he found in archives in Paris, The Hague, Koblenz, and the major Belgian cities. Through persistent detective work, he has discovered how the art was taken. He concludes that collectors, dealers, and auction houses showed little restraint in going along with the Nazis' plan to acquire the art. 

  • The Encyclopeadia of the Fall
    The Encyclopeadia of the Fall
    The Encyclopaedias of the Fall
    What kind of book is ‘The Encyclopaedia of the Fall’? A case apart, certainly.
    De Tijd

    No one can escape gravity. Planet earth is governed by laws which drag us down, ultimately into the grave. Desires meet with an equally inauspicious end. In the Bible, hunger for knowledge leads to the Fall, while Icarus’s urge to fly plunges him into the sea. In this brimful book, farce and tragedy alternate at great speed.

  • I, Cartographer
    I, Cartographer
    I, Cartographer
    This is a major work by Jeroen Theunissen, one of our best wordsmiths. Impressive.
    David Van Reybrouck

    When he was around twenty, Jeroen Theunissen came across a map of Europe in a travel agency, with thick purple lines marking long-distance hikes. When, many years later, the writer starts suffering from anxiety attacks and depression and feels melancholic and trapped in an unhappy marriage, he leaves everything and everyone behind, including his two children, and embarks on a six-month walk from Southwest Ireland to the Bosporus Strait.

  • Nature Starts Here
    Nature Starts Here
    Nature Starts Here
    … mini celebrations of the wonders of nature
    De Morgen

    In her latest book, Caro Van Thuyne draws on her unique voice to address another theme that’s close to her heart: the natural world. Some time ago, Caro withdrew from hectic urban life and moved to Houtland, near the Flemish coast. There she lives and writes surrounded by nature.

  • Listen
    His new book ‘Listen’ cracks open your listening habits
    Knack Focus

    Did you ever listen to Hindustani Dhrupad music, a Gisalo from Papua New Guinea or the chants of the Blackfoot people? Does it mean anything to you to listen to a piece of music that lasts 639 years? Followed by the noise experiments of Maso Yamazaki? Or do you think that this is not music?

  • Another History of Art
    Another History of Art
    Another History of Art
    ... nothing but praise for this author
    De Witte Raaf
  • Shakespeare Knows Me Better Than My Boyfriend
    Shakespeare Knows Me Better Than My Boyfriend
    Shakespeare Knows Me Better Than My Boyfriend
    An entertaining excursion into the extraordinary world of English-language literature

    'Even today, most of those who talk about literature are elderly white professors. We must introduce new perspectives, fresh views of the classics. We urgently need to make literature more accessible, so that the canon will change from the outside,’ claimed Ibe Rossel in a popular podcast. With her nonfiction debut she has acted on her own advice. Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen and George Eliot are great names in English literature, but for many readers they amount to no more than a distant memory of English lessons. After all, what does a dead author have to offer us today?

  • De huisvriend
    De huisvriend
    Friend of the Family
    Debruyne has written one of the most interesting autobiographical novels of the year.

    Heleen Debruyne was inspired to write ‘Friend of the Family’ after reading her grandparents’ letters and diaries. While pregnant with her first child, she immersed herself in an unsavoury family story that had been glossed over. She discovered how and why her father was deliberately entrusted to a friend of the family called Albert, Bertie to his friends, a rich homosexual. Debruyne intersperses the story with essayistic passages in which she contemplates motherly love and shifting beliefs about sexuality, love and intimacy. 

  • The Things We Knew in 1972
    Winner of de Boon 2023
    The Things We Knew in 1972
    Winner of de Boon 2023

    In 'The Things We Knew in 1972' Geert Buelens addresses the dangerous condition of our planet, a topical, alarming and complex subject, and he succeeds magnificently in making it totally accessible for a broad audience. While the reader remains aware of the seriousness of the subject throughout, the book is as captivating and informative as it is miraculously  entertaining.

  • Japan

    When we hear ‘Japan’, we tend to think of geishas, samurai and sumo wrestlers populating a country wedded to ancient customs and traditions. Japan expert Luk Van Haute paints a picture of Japanese society as far more diverse than some would have us believe.

  • Waagstukken
    Bold Ventures
    Van den Broeck has a very keen eye. But she also has a great mind. ****
    De Standaard

    Charlotte Van den Broeck is primarily known as a poet – in that capacity she opened the guest of honour presentation by Flanders and the Netherlands at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2016 – but ‘Bold Ventures’ is her extraordinary and highly distinctive debut as a non-fiction writer.

  • De klank van de stad
    De klank van de stad
    The Sound of the City
    A book of international importance.
    De Standaard

    Venice, that city of water and gondolas, is a living memory of more than five centuries, packed to the rafters with cultural history. Walking a fine line between heritage and cliché, this book is intended as a tribute to the artists who have captured the sounds and colours of Venice in their work.

  • Gunzenhausen

    Piet de Moor likes to call his books a ‘fricassee’, after a dish popular in Flanders in which all kinds of ingredients are mixed. In this book, centred on the life of J.D. Salinger, he combines fact and fiction to create an intriguing puzzle, a novel as well as a portrait of an era.

  • Brutopia
    Those who have read 'Brutopia' will be seeing this metropolis through different eyes
    Cutting Edge

    Since Donald Trump dismissed Brussels as a ‘hellhole’, the city has become world famous. Brussels has its fans, but it is also the most hated city in Belgium and the European Union. In this fascinating and very readable urban biography Pascal Verbeken debunks the widespread clichés and prejudices about contemporary Brussels by looking at its history with all its dreams and failures.

  • Cover A Room in Ostend
    Cover A Room in Ostend
    A Room in Ostend
    A wealth of beautifully composed stories

    Writer Koen Peeters and painter Koen Broucke, both fascinated by Ostend, wander through the streets in search of the town’s soul. ‘A Room in Ostend’ is a moving and sometimes ironic account of their peregrinations. It is a book about friendship, loss, self-reflection, adventures big and small and the magic that encounters can bring.

  • Cover Bart Van Loo The Burgundians
    330,000 copies sold worldwide!
    Cover Bart Van Loo The Burgundians
    330,000 copies sold worldwide!
    The Burgundians
    Bart Van Loo is in top form. The Burgundians is impossible to put down and hits like a sledgehammer. A masterpiece.
    De Morgen

    ‘The Burgundians’ takes the reader on a journey through a thousand years of European history, calling at cities such as Dijon, Paris, Lille, Ghent, Bruges and Delft, up to the time when the Seventeen Provinces arose and the Burgundian Empire came to an end. It tells a scintillating account of pyres and banquets, plagues and jousts, Joan of Arc, Jan van Eyck, Philip the Good and the Golden Fleece.

  • Sound
    A passionate account about the intangible of music
    Mauro Pawlowski, musician

    Music is able to move people, to ease their pain, or simply to make them want to dance. But what do we experience exactly listening to Chopin, Pink Floyd or Bob Dylan? Which features characterize our musical experience?

  • Cover The Age of Charlie Chaplin
    Cover The Age of Charlie Chaplin
    The Age of Charlie Chaplin
    The alternation between zooming in to focus on the films and panning out to the world stage works well.
    De Standaard

    Matthijs de Ridder gives a sparkling account of an artist who was able to embody all the important themes of the 20th century. Using new sources, he casts a fresh glance over the life and work of Chaplin. At the same time, ‘The Age of Charlie Chaplin’ is a phenomenal cultural history of a turbulent period that defines our worldview to this very day.

  • Cover Andalusian Logbook
    Cover Andalusian Logbook
    Andalusian Journal
    He embodies his perspective, which is analytic and constantly eager to learn
    NRC Handelsblad

    Forgotten celebrities, hidden masterpieces and unique areas of nature. This logbook is a colourful collection of notes and impressions, experiences and stories about the nature, culture, history and people of Andalusia.

    With the inquisitive gaze that characterises all his works, Stefan Brijs takes a first look at the riches of his new home port.

  • Cover Beyond the Borders
    Cover Beyond the Borders
    Beyond the Borders
    ‘Beyond the Borders’ reads like an ode to the unfathomability of human relationships.
    De Standaard

    'Beyond the Borders’ is an account of Meulemans' fascinating literary pilgrimage, digging into the history of  the American author Glenway Wescott (1901-1987). Right from the very first page this book whisks the reader away to a now-forgotten literary and artistic world in America before and after the Second World War. Gradually, the lives of Meulemans and Wescott become ever more intertwined. Is friendship beyond death possible?

  • Cover Berlin. Life in a Divided City
    Cover Berlin. Life in a Divided City
    Berlin. Life in a Divided City
    With his talent for well-balanced, focused writing, De Moor now occupies an unrivalled position within Dutch-language literature.

    How did the Nazis poison the bustling life of the city? Which communist absurdities were the residents of East Berlin confronted with in the GDR? How did the city transform after ‘die Wende’?

    In ‘Berlin. Life in a Divided City’, Piet de Moor goes in search of the soul of the mythical metropolis, a city that suffered like no other during the violent history of the 20th century. The result is an informative and kaleidoscopic book that is truly worth reading.

  • Cover The End of The World
    Cover The End of The World
    The End of the World. A History
    Stroeykens, a physicist at heart, has thought of everything.
    KIJK Magazine

    What might the end of the world really look like? Should we be worried about the climate, mutating viruses, artificial intelligence and asteroid impacts? Or is that fear just as irrational as that of the medieval cultists who constantly expected another biblical flood to wash away the world?

    ‘The End of the World’ is a fascinating history of catastrophes, fears and nightmares.

  • Cover Late Days
    Cover Late Days
    Late Days
    Dewulf’s writing succeeds in making the mundane new again.

    No matter what Bernard writes about, he sees the world like a photographer, and analyses each moment in a unique, almost philosophical way. These ‘Late Days’ are marked by melancholy, as parenting increasingly makes way for ticking time.

  • Cover Pieter Bruegel
    Cover Pieter Bruegel
    Pieter Bruegel
    Huet’s writing is quite simply superb: elegant, colourful, lively, with great feeling for detail, witty and never condescending.
    Kees 't Hart

    Of all the art of the Flemish School, the work of Pieter Bruegel (1525?-1569) seems most typical of the Low Countries. His familiar and much loved paintings turned him into a folkloric icon, even if that does not entirely square with his life story. Leen Huet has written the first proper biography of the sixteenth-century master.

  • Cover Dubious Matters
    Cover Dubious Matters
    Dubious Matters
    Cultural products marked as obscene always also make food for thought
    Rudi Laermans

    The obscene in this book refers to more than only the sexually offensive: the forbidden generates fear and contains a mixture of fear and lust.

  • Cover Raptures
    Cover Raptures
    With Dewulf, profundity is right on the surface. For anyone taking the trouble to look closely, it is deep enough.
    Libris Literature Prize jury

    'Raptures' is a comprehensive collection of published pieces by this talented observer. He aims to describe in an accessible way the enchantment he feels when looking at paintings, drawings and photographs, whether by contemporaries or old masters, or indeed at the ever-changing fortunes of his family environment.

  • Cover Perfectly Tailored
    Cover Perfectly Tailored
    Perfectly Tailored
    In Lauwaert’s hands the essay has found an innovator
    Koen Brams

    'Perfectly Tailored' is a collection of Dirk Lauwaert’s most important writings about fashion, clothing and film costumes. He writes just as brilliantly about the hilarious aspects of a pattern as about the impudence of Helmut Newton, or about the ethereal Audrey Hepburn in a Givenchy twopiece.

  • Cover Organ Man
    Cover Organ Man
    Organ Man
    Words fail me. This is a book you will never forget.
    Geert Mak

    If there was ever a man who rose from the ashes like a phoenix then it was the painter Felix Nussbaum. Mark Schaevers follows Nussbaum on his wanderings through the Nazi years, from Rome to the Italian Riviera, from Paris to Ostend and Brussels.

  • Cover The Comfort of Beauty
    Cover The Comfort of Beauty
    The Comfort of Beauty
    A perfectly accomplished anthology of moving testimonies from literary and other sources.

    In deeply personal letters, displaying an impressive knowledge of the subject, Piet Chielens and his brother Wim correspond about the war poems of John McCrae, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and many other soldiers who fought in Flanders Fields and found comfort in writing poetry.

  • Cover The Age of Brussels
    Cover The Age of Brussels
    The Age of Brussels
    An effervescent portrait of the artistically and politically foaming city Brussels was between 1850 and 1914.

    Refugees and adventurers, thinkers and doers, finders and inventors washed ashore in this elegant city where life was good - ask Baudelaire, Marx, Rodin, Ensor, Multatuli and all those others, read it in the writings of Teirlinck or Van de Woestijne.

  • Cover Rebellious Rhythms
    Cover Rebellious Rhythms
    Rebel Rhythms
    A gorgeous voyage of discovery
    Bert Van Raemdonck

    No better soundtrack for a political and cultural history of the twentieth century than jazz. In 'Rebellious Rhythms' Matthijs de Ridder starts on a hazardous search through an age of jazz and jazzy literature.

  • Cover France Trilogy
    Cover France Trilogy
    France Trilogy
    An impassioned literary pilgrim
    NRC Handelsblad

    The 'France Trilogy' is a tribute to literature and an original ode to the most important of life’s pleasures.

  • Cover About the Friend
    Cover About the Friend
    About the Friend
    Few authors combine that much knowledge with such a pleasant and accessible style.
    Erik Lindner

    Using images and texts taken from literature, philosophy, art, the internet and popular culture, Piet Joostens goes in search of the figure of the friend and how it relates to friendship.

  • Cover Chanson
    Cover Chanson
    An ambitious and harmonious get together of touristic guide, history lesson and good stories.
    Radio 1

    Bart Van Loo’s declaration of intent opens a highly original and enjoyable alternative history of France in the light of French chansons. By combining an erudite knowledge of French music and historical facts Bart Van Loo constructs fascinating and unexpected connections.

  • Cover The Mobilization of Arcadia
    Cover The Mobilization of Arcadia
    The Mobilization of Arcadia
    A thoroughly impressive book.
    De Groene Amsterdammer

    The theme that unites all the essays in ‘The Mobilization of Arcadia’ is our romantic and Christian longing for Arcadia, an imaginary place that acquired a new meaning with the arrival of modernity.

  • Cover Darwin's Notebooks
    Cover Darwin's Notebooks
    Darwin's Notebooks
    A supremely readable book on Darwin’s field notebooks, pocket notebooks, diaries, letters, and sketches.
    NRC Handelsblad

    In a vivid way, Dirk Van Hulle tells us how Darwin was strongly influenced by poets and writers from the Romantic period: Wordsworth, Shelley, and through them, Milton and his 'Paradise lost'.

  • Cover Beethoven
    Cover Beethoven
    An outstanding achievement
    Vrij Nederland

    This biography will appeal to a broad audience of music lovers and to anyone interested in cultural history.

  • Cover Europe, Oh Europe!
    Cover Europe, Oh Europe!
    Europe, Oh Europe!
    Buelens has written a brilliant and accessible book about the hyperbole of the Great War.
    De Volkskrant

    In' Europe, oh Europe!' Buelens describes how Europe was shooting itself to pieces while desperately seeking a new identity. It is a book about the destructive and healing power of the word, a chunk of lively cultural history and a meditation on nationalism and international cooperation.

  • Cover Psychogenocide
    Cover Psychogenocide
    A terribly beautiful book
    Paul Verhaeghe

    On October 1st 1939, the day World War II started, Hitler permitted doctors to kill patients suffering from neurologic and psychiatric disorders. This was the start of Aktion T4, the systematic and industrial killing of handicapped and mentally ill people.

  • Cover The Plague
    Cover The Plague
    The Plague
    A talented writer, original and funny, who is definitely one to watch
    Le Monde

    While working on his thesis, David Van Reybrouck came across the accusation that the Belgian writer and Nobel Prize winner Maurice Maeterlinck had plagiarised from the work of the South African author Eugène Marais. ‘The Plague’ sweeps the reader along in a thrilling literary adventure, which leaves its image on the mind’s eye long after the last page has been turned.

  • Cover Intercities
    Cover Intercities
    The great charm of this book lies in its explosive mix of opinion and storytelling.
    El Pais

    The result is a beautiful balance between intellectual understanding and personal impressions. His great strength is his ability to keep his eyes open in all circumstances and to surprise himself with the realization that ‘travelling often turns out to be a process of finding what you weren’t looking for’.

  • Cover A Longing for Inconsolability
    Cover A Longing for Inconsolability
    A Longing for Inconsolability
    She is the only philosopher writing in Dutch who can make philosophy not just nonacademic and understandable but moving.
    Herman De Coninck

    The great value of Patricia De Martelaere's essays ultimately lies in what makes them rise above philosophical debate. Whereas philosophers like to make readers furrow their brows as deeply as possible, the author excels at laying out a clear line of argument, avoiding jargon and applying convincing logic.