Other People’s Countries
Winner of the 2014 Duff Cooper Prize
Winner of the 2015 Welsh Book of the Year Award
Shortlisted for the 2015 James Tait Black Memorial Prize
Shortlisted for the 2015 PEN Ackerley prize
Longlisted for the 2014 Thwaites Wainwright Prize
Let me take you down the thin cobblestoned streets of the Belgian border town of Bouillon. Let me take you down the alleys that lead into its past. To a town peopled with eccentrics, full of charm, menace and wonder. To the days before television, to Marie Bodard’s sweetshop, to the Nazi occupation and unexpected collaborators. To a place where one neighbour murders another over the misfortune of pigs and potatoes. To the hotel where the French poet Verlaine his lover Rimbaud, holed up whilst on the run from family, creditors and the law.
This exquisite meditation on place, time and memory is an illicit peek into other people’s countries, into the spaces they have populated with their memories, and might just make you revisit your own in a new and surprising way.
"McGuinness is a marvellous writer... On every page there are breathtakingly gorgeous images, similes, metaphors." -- John Banville * Observer * "McGuinness has written the great book on Belgium and modern memory, or even Belgium and modern being. He takes his place among those singers and painters of the haunted, the melancholy, the diminished, the caricatural, the humdrum." -- Michael Hofmann * Guardian * "Lyrical and evocative... This is a very Proustian memoir, whose effect will be to drive the reader into contemplation of their own half-forgotten childhood home." -- Josh Glancy * Sunday Times * "A rich analysis of home and homelessness." -- James Wood * London Review of Books * "This book had a powerful effect on me... Sometimes hilarious, sometimes freighted with tragedy." -- Gillian Tindall * Literary Review *
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