Christ's Entry into Brussels
2016 Longlist

Christ’s Entry into Brussels

Translated from the original Dutch by David Colmer
artwork-image

ABOUT
THE BOOK

It is announced that Jesus Christ is to visit Belgium in a few weeks time, on its national day, the 21st of July. Coincidentally, our narrator’s mother dies and his marriage ends. Feeling very low, and fluctuating between resentment, irony and cynicism, he reports on the events and on the behaviour of his compatriots. The authorities squabble about how to receive Christ. They find an eleven-year-old girl in the asylum seekers’ centre to act as Christ’s Aramaic interpreter (Arabic, Aramaic, it’s practically the same, right?). Neighbours resolve ancient feuds and communities gather together to confess and forgive en masse, no matter the depravity of the crime. As the date draws near, the whole city brightens up – there’s never been a nicer time to have a Second Coming.

This new novel by Dimitri Verhulst resembles a quirky pamphlet and a moral fable. The narrator considers himself part of the ‘lost generation’, which has no illusions about the state of the world – both in absurd Belgium and in the distressingly imperfect world beyond. He puts a finger on the symptomatic fever blisters of contemporary society, of the so-called ‘malcontent mass’. With his bizarre imaginings, harsh criticisms and stylistic verve, he exposes an embarrassing reality, which often makes you laugh conspiratorially, and then cry.

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR Dimitri
Verhulst

Dimitri Verhulst is the author of many award-winning books in his native Dutch, four of which have previously been translated into English: Madame Verona Comes Down the Hill, Problemski Hotel, The Misfortunates and Christ’s Entry into Brussels. His work is published in two dozen languages worldwide.

Dimitri Verhulst is the author of many award-winning books in his native Dutch, four of which have previously been translated into English: Madame Verona Comes Down the Hill, Problemski Hotel, The Misfortunates and Christ’s Entry into Brussels. His work is published in two dozen languages worldwide.

ABOUT
THE TRANSLATOR David
Colmer

David Colmer’s translations from the Dutch include works by Hugo Claus, Cees Nooteboom, Gerbrand Bakker and Annie M.G. Schmidt. His translations have won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. In 2013 he won the Vondel Prize for his translation of Dimitri Verhulst’s The Misfortunates.

David Colmer’s translations from the Dutch include works by Hugo Claus, Cees Nooteboom, Gerbrand Bakker and Annie M.G. Schmidt. His translations have won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. In 2013 he won the Vondel Prize for his translation of Dimitri Verhulst’s The Misfortunates.

NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS

This short novel is a funny cynical story about the return of Christ, in which Verhulst mocks his fellow country men. The title refers to the monumental painting by James Ensor portraying an absurd diseased society. Verhulst has a specific way of writing and his style is quite extraordinary.

Jesus Christ will visit Brussels and in the days leading towards this event Verhulst describes a Belgium in anticipation and a changing capitol where degradation slowly changes into citizens actually beginning to talk to each other! A media event which this city has never seen… This book is in fact a hilarious pampflet about society, written in beautiful prose. A tasteful book with lots of quirky remarks and sarcasm.

A moral fable about the metamorphosis in the behaviour of the people of Brussels on the eve of the Second Coming of Christ to the city.

Reviewer Jane Housham (Guardian): “We may think we excel at national self-flagellation but Verhulst’s sustained and blackly funny assault on the citizens of Brussels trumps all.” Another side of the EU capital.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Date published
06/02/2014
Country
Belgium
Original Language
Dutch
Publisher
Portobello Books
Translator
David Colmer
Translation
Translated from the original Dutch by David Colmer

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