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.
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.
The Machiavelli Beeckman presents is a surprising and confrontational teacher.
Beeckman discusses Machiavelli’s original insights that are applicable today. In a challenging book, Beeckman leads the reader to the heart of Machiavelli’s thinking and shows that his works are a rich treasure trove of wise, sharp and clearly formulated insights.
A book you can’t put down and that sends shivers down your spine.
Found among the rubble of a burnt-down old farm is the lifeless body of its owner, 84-year-old farmer Daniel. Farmer Daniel is the uncle of writer and journalist Chris De Stoop. In his familiar sober style, Chris De Stoop registers all the different aspect of this case and ends up creating a devastating literary drama.
The problems caused by the corona and climate crises are forcing us all to adapt to a society which has changed beyond all recognition. But they can also be used as an opportunity to make different choices. Where would we like to take our economy? How should we relate to one another and to the environment? And what is the effect of this ‘new normal’ on our sense of wellbeing?
Holes beneath the waterline the discourse about the superiority of Western norms and values.
Rachida Aziz dips her pen in vitriol in the best tradition of literary polemic to give the established order a good dressing down. Every day she is confronted with how it feels not to belong. Aziz fights the constraints of society and writes about what she describes as her own process of decolonisation.
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.
Having concluded that we’ve never lived so long, so prosperously and so peacefully, philosopher of science Maarten Boudry takes on those he calls doom-mongers and cultural pessimists. The world has never been in a better shape than today, and Maarten Boudry is convinced that the best is yet to come, if only we put our minds to it.
Naima once again brings about a kind of Copernican revolution in the anti-racism story.
Hand in Hand
The public debate about racism and discrimination usually concentrates on shocking injustices, rather than the day-to-day racism that results in what Naima Charkaoui calls micro-injuries, caused by profound and painful experiences that are hard to put into words. What’s more, the culprits are often central to the debate and to the follow-up, while the victim is left out in the cold. This book is a plea for more attention to be paid to the victims of racism.
Many psychological differences between the sexes are not solely the product of upbringing and the cultural environment. Instead they are in part a predictable consequence of millions of years of evolution by natural and sexual selection. This well-written book draws upon the most recent scientific developments as support for its plea to us to rethink our concept of feminism.
Today’s society is all about more, better, further – about an obsessive individual pursuit of happiness and a stringing together of Instagram-worthy experiences. Dirk De Wachter appeals for more honest dealings with life’s ups and downs, for more real contact and sincere solidarity. This book invites us to think about what happiness can really mean.
Those who have read 'Brutopia' will be seeing this metropolis through different eyes
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.
Peter Vermeersch is called up for jury service in a case of robbery with murder. He feels bombarded by questions of all kinds – not just matters of guilt or innocence, but questions that transcend this specific case. What do you do to someone when you punish them? Does it help? How does it feel to be the relative of a murder victim? Does a criminal trial help families to process the pain and anger?
Empathy is the raw material all his books are made of
This is the true story of a fisherman and his daughter, who fled their home country Vietnam some time ago. Hung crossed the ocean in his small fishing vessel to start a new life in a village behind a high sea wall. Quyen opened a successful restaurant, but is now struggling with an identity crisis.
The alternation between zooming in to focus on the films and panning out to the world stage works well.
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.
A passionate plea against hate, thirst for revenge and the urge for destruction
El Bachiri transforms the pain he suffered into a message of love and humanity, in which he appeals to western Muslims for a more humanist approach to Islam. ‘A Jihad for Love’ is the answer to the hatred of those who wish to divide us, of those who propagate violence and terrorism.
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.
His most personal and at the same time most universal book
'Abadaringi’ is a sketchbook and an intriguing documentary about the genocide in Rwanda. Janssen draws the landscapes and settings he encounters, and creates portraits of the people he speaks to. He also tells his own story, in handwritten notes. A phenomenal piece of journalism.
Francis Mus displays an expertise not seen before by Cohen’s Canadian critics.
Authority on Cohen Francis Mus portrays the real Cohen and his recurring demons. He searched for and found ‘Cohen pieces’ that never have been written about. This book offers a unique view into Leonard Cohen’s soul.
It brings the reader closer to the origins and the reality of armed jihad than most of the analyses.
Together AlDe’emeh and Stockmans travel to Zarqa in Jordan, the cradle of international jihad and AlDe’emeh’s birthplace in a refugee camp. They returned with surreal stories that make this book unforgettable.
His argument for a collective authority is inspired and well-founded, but also provocative and utopian.
Verhaeghe seeks and finds a new interpretation in groups, which lend authority to an individual or an institution, whether they be parents’ associations, groups of active citizens or shareholders’ meetings.
The Hedwige Polder, the most famous stretch of reclaimed land in the Belgian lowlands, is to be flooded again no matter what. It has become symbolic of old farmland forced to make way for new nature reserves.
Verbeken brings back to life the era of the great expectations
Pascal Verbeken registers the small and the large signs of the times. He listens to a multicoloured collection of Belgians and their unique, sometimes tragic stories. ‘Grand Central Belge’ is a requiem for a divided country that does not succeed in chasing its old demons away.
Nobody has taught me as much about the euro crisis as Paul De Grauwe.
Do the financial crisis and the growing inequality create a new balance of power between the free market and the government? Are we witnessing a turnover of capitalism and does the government take over again?
Provocative and elegant, visionary and stylish. This European dares to tell the hard truths.
Chief Geopolitical Analyst for Stratfor
We, as Europeans, feel as if the future passes right by us. The crisis rages over our continent like a storm and dismantles all our certainties. Are the fundaments of Europe crumbling? And do we actually understand what is going on?
The polder village of Doel, situated in the shadow of a nuclear reactor near the port of Antwerp, has been a pawn in the power games of successive politicians since the 1960s. Jeroen Janssen became fascinated by those who stayed behind and by their stories. ‘Doel’ is an impressive account of a personal journey of discovery in a village whose fate has long been uncertain.
Decreus’ critical discussion of dominant market thinking in our depoliticized society is clever and provocative.
Politiek en Samenleving
Decreus sets out to subject the current political establishment to fierce criticism. He unmasks representative democracy as in truth an aristocracy and points to the incompatibility of the democratic ideal with the premises of neoliberal policies and market thinking.
Van Reybrouck manages to convince the reader that drawing lots would be an effective way to breathe new life into our enfeebled democracy.
Henriette Roland-Holst Prize jury
Van Reybrouck argues with crystal clarity that drawing lots would be an effective way to revitalize our enfeebled democracy and ensure that citizens participate once more in the social structures that shape them and their lives.
Fluid and clear, the author’s approach is didactic yet never pedantic.
The author continually speaks to his readers and integrates their responses into his text by concurring with or contradicting them. This rhetorical strategy makes what he writes all the more convincing.
A book and a study of a kind of which there are all too few
‘Peace Be With You, Sister’ is the story of Muriel Degauque, a Belgian who became the first and only Western woman to carry out a suicide attack. She drove her white Mercedes from Brussels to Baghdad in order to blow herself up in the name of Allah.
Are we experiencing the dying throes of psychotherapy? Is Freud finished for good? Following a line of reasoning as subtle as it is logically necessary, Paul Verhaeghe shows how psychotherapy and the psychiatric profession have lost ground due to the combined effect of pseudo-scientific psychology and the corruptive influence of the pharmaceutical industry.
A talented writer, original and funny, who is definitely one to watch
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.