David Van Reybrouck

© Lenny Oosterwijk
Frankfurter Buchmesse
Guest of Honour 2016

David Van Reybrouck

1971, Bruges. Writer. Essayist. Poet. Playwright.

David Van Reybrouck studied Archeology and Philosophy in Louvain and Cambridge. After graduating, he revealed himself to be one of the most talented and versatile authors in Flanders. He debuted in 2001 with De plaag (The Plague), which quickly won several awards. His greatest success is Congo: The Epic History of a People (2010) which placed him firmly on the map as a non-fiction writer. He won the AKO Literature Award for the book, and the jury described the work as ‘a cleverly composed story about slavery and colonialism, resilience and survival.’ Van Reybrouck is also a gifted playwright and poet. In 2007, he founded the Brussels poets collective, bringing together poets of all ages, styles and backgrounds. Extensive research conducted through interviews, conversations and archives still lies at the basis of his stories and plays. This research is evident in the skillful interweaving of facts and fiction in his books. He describes his own work as ‘an attempt to initiate a dialogue with our times’. His work has been translated into more than 15 languages.


  Translations   www.davidvanreybrouck.be   www.auteurslezingen.be   De Bezige Bij   Wallstein   Suhrkamp

Recently translated into German

Against Elections
Translated by Arne Braun
Wallstein, 2016
Original title: Tegen verkiezingen (De Bezige Bij, 2013)

Our democracy is suffering from anorexia. Whereas it once fed on various forms of participation, these days it tries to survive on the thin gruel of a puny ritual: elections. We are neglecting our democracy at a time when the world is undergoing radical change. The traditional pillars of society are disappearing, people are better educated, information travels faster, the media have become much more commercial and social media are creating new forms of political awareness. All this demands more involvement, meaningful participation and greater transparency. David van Reybrouck, who founded the successful citizens’ initiative g1000 in Belgium, examines new ways of revitalizing our impotent democracy and involving citizens in everything that concerns us in society. Here he issues an urgent call for change.
Very persuasive … There are few new big ideas in politics and few answers to the serious challenge faced by democratic politics ... invigorating and advance[s] a promising practical idea … fresh, challenging and uncomplicated.

The Times

Van Reybrouck mounts a convincing case that we have wrongly conflated democracy with elections, and are in fact simply maintaining an outmoded system in a technological era that calls out for, and can provide, much more informed participation.

The Guardian