Christ’s Entry into Brussels | Granta

  • Published: 06/02/2014
  • ISBN: 9781846274671
  • 137x20mm
  • 160 pages

Christ’s Entry into Brussels

Dimitri Verhulst

Translated by David Colmer

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.

A short, vitriolic novel about Christ's return, and a sustained and blackly funny assault... yet just beneath [this] rage is a longing for a bit of peace, some thought for others and even Christian values

Jane Housham, Guardian

A ruthless view, from a great stylist

NRC Handelsblad

The Author

Born in Belgium in 1972, Dimitri Verhulst is the author of a collection of short stories, a volume of poetry and several novels, including Problemski Hotel (Marion Boyars) which was translated into English in 2003. All his books are widely translated in Europe and receive a lot of critical praise

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The Translator

David Colmer has translated more than twenty books, including novels, poetry and children’s fiction, by authors including Hugo Claus, Adriaan van Dis, Anna Enquist and Arthur Japin. He is a recipient of the PEN translation prize and is the four-time winner of David Reid Poetry Translation Prize. In 2010 his translation of Gerbrand Bakker’s Boven is het stil (The Twin) won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. In 2012 he was awarded the Dutch Foundation for Literature prize for lifetime achievement in translation.

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