these five books are worth your reading time

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Peter Holvoet-Hanssen, Goleman

Peter Holvoet-Hanssen, unbridled poet, troubadour and performer, publishes the final piece of his gigantic poetry journey, a mirror palace of music and poetry, a resounding symphony. Goleman, the last giant, is tired of the accusations of lust for power and control. His ambition is mortality, transforming into his greatest rival: human. Holvoet-Hanssen frantically explores many registers in this sometimes dangerous journey of discovery in his own head, culminating in ‘polyphonic scores’: ‘Goleman, do you hear us,/do you hear the hum of voices/that spreads its blessing through the air, like down.’

Peter Holvoet-Hanssen, Goleman, Pelckmans, 120 p., 19.50 euros.Image RV

Ivan Turgenev, Stories

Simple, empathetic and also melancholy, that is how the calm writing style of the Russian writer Ivan Turgenev (1818-1882), who came from noble circles, has sometimes been described. He turned out to be timeless and able to penetrate deeply into the human heart. Uitgeverij Van Oorschot asked Froukje Slofstra for new translations of his famous stories. He depicted Russian rural life but also questioned serfdom, because Turgenev was also a fighter against injustice.


Ivan Turgenev, Stories, Van Oorschot, 1,024 p., 50 euros. Translation by Froukje Slofstra.Image RV

Ivan De Vadder, Confidence in elections

“Democracy can survive angry citizens, it can survive populist leaders, but what a democracy can never survive are indifferent citizens,” says VRT Wetstraat journalist Ivan De Vadder. Confidence in elections. After his success song Despair in the Wetstraat quite a few readers found his message about contemporary politicians too negative. In his new book he therefore tries to emphasize the importance of elections, participation and a strong democratic fabric.

Ivan De Vadder, Confidence in elections, Ertsberg, 200 p., 22.50 euros. Image RV
Ivan De Vadder, Confidence in elections, Ertsberg, 200 p., 22.50 euros.Image RV

Alana S. Portero, Bad habits

Originating from the rough working-class neighborhood of San Blas in Madrid in the 80s and 90s, Alana S. Portero sketches her teenage years, a girl trapped in a boy’s body. She faces physical and psychological attack. Portero, writing from the perspective of a trans woman, emphasizes that this is not a “niche novel” and not a “traumatic autobiography,” but “fiction about witches and demigoddesses,” as well as a “critical look at social classes” and “a family tree of beautiful women.’

Alana S. Portero, Bad habits, Meridian Publishers, 246 p., 22 euros. Translation by Annet van der Heijden and Alyssia Sebes. Image RV
Alana S. Portero, Bad habits, Meridian Publishers, 246 p., 22 euros. Translation by Annet van der Heijden and Alyssia Sebes.Image RV

József Debreczeni, The cold crematorium

In Holocaust literature The cold crematorium (1950) is unique because it once also opened the eyes of communist Eastern Europe to the camp horror in Auschwitz. Only now is this document by the Hungarian journalist József Debreczeni (1905-1978) being rediscovered worldwide. Debreczeni thought he would only live for 45 minutes after arriving at Auschwitz. But he ended up in the ‘hospital’ in the Dörnhau labor camp, where underweight prisoners awaited their execution. Cruelty became routine on ‘this inhospitable planet’.

József Debreczeni, The cold crematorium, De Arbeiderspers, 246 p., 23.99 euros. French translation by Nes. Image RV
József Debreczeni, The cold crematorium, De Arbeiderspers, 246 p., 23.99 euros. French translation by Nes.Image RV

The article is in Dutch

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