• 25/02/2015
  • 7:00 PM - 10:30 PM
  • Brussels


A salon with Patrick McGuinness, Lieve Joris and Peter Vermeersch

 Ideas  / 25th February 2015 / 7:30 - 10:30 PM.

A fantastic trio joined us for our first Literary Salon on Belonging, Memory & Identity.

Patrick McGuinness, Professor at Oxford University, poet and novelist, read illuminating extracts from his latest novel Other People’s Countries: a Journey into Memory (2014), set in the Belgian border town of Bouillon. Peter Vermeersch, Professor of Politics (KU Leuven), Slavist, and widely published writer of essays and literary non-fiction, took us on a swirling, melancholic journey on postwar memory in the former Yugoslavia. Lieve Joris, one of Europe’s leading travel writers, talked about belonging and ‘coming back to the centre’.

About the speakers

Patrick McGuinness is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Oxford University. He has written three collections of poems – Jilted City (2010), 19th Century Blues (2007), The Canals of Mars (2004) – and two novels: The Last Hundred Days (2011), longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction and winner of the Writers’ Guild Prize for Fiction, the Wales Book of the Year, and the French Prix du premier roman étranger 2013; and Other People’s Countries was published in 2014. 

Peter Vermeersch is a Belgian professor of social science and politics and a writer of literary non-fiction. Having studied, lived, and conducted research in various places in Central Europe and the Balkans, he is research coordinator of the LINES Institute (Leuven International and European Studies) at the University of Leuven. He was previously researcher-in-residence at the OSCE Secretariat in Prague (2001) and visiting scholar at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University (2007-2008). Together with David Van Reybrouck, he brought to life the European Constitution in Verse! Ex. Over een land dat zoek is (2014) – which translates to Ex. About a Country that is Gone – is his most recent non-fiction book.

Lieve Joris, half traveller, half journalist, 100% writer, was called by the French newspaper Libération one of the best journalists in the world, following in the footsteps of Herodotus or Ryszard Kapuściński. Mali Blues (1998), the account of her travels through Senegal, Mauretania and Mali, gained Joris the Belgian triennial award for Flemish prose and the French ‘Prix de l’Astrolabe’. The Rebels’ Hour (2008) was nominated for the T.R. Fyvel Book Award. For the French edition of De hoogvlaktes – The High Plains – Joris was awarded the Prix Nicolas Bouvier 2009. Her newest book, Op de vleugels van de draak (2013) – On The Wings of The Dragon – is a journey between Africa and China, and in the world of Africans and Chinese who venture into each other’s territory.


Other people’s countries: a Journey into Memory (2014), The Last Hundred Days (2011)

“Innovating democracy in times of crisis: solution or utopia?”, Open Citizenship, – The European Constitution in Verse, – “Backdoor nationalism” (with Jon Fox), European Journal of Sociology

Back to the Congo (1992), The Gates of Damascus (1996), Mali Blues (1998), The Rebels’ Hour (2008).




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