Journalist. Anthropologist. Specialised in the Arab and Islamic world.
Joris Luyendijk studied politics, history, Arabic and anthropology. Between 1998 and 2003 he lived in Cairo, Beirut and East Jerusalem one after another, where he worked for the Dutch newspapers de Volkskrant and NRC Handelsblad and for Dutch radio and TV. His books include Een goede man slaat soms zijn vrouw [A Good Man Sometimes Hits his Wife] (1998), about his attempts as a Westerner to integrate into an Islamic environment, and the problems he encountered in maintaining friendships with people whose ideology went against his own. Het zijn net mensen [Almost Human] (2006) is a razor-sharp analysis of the manipulative power (or impotence) of the media and the way in which it filters our perception of the Arab world. In Dit kan niet waar zijn [Swimming with Sharks] (2015) he offers an anthropological perspective on the amoral financial world. The book was awarded the NS Public Prize. In 2002 he won the Gouden Pen award, the Dutch public award for print journalism. Van Luyendijk’s work has been translated into fourteen languages.
Swimming with Sharks
Tropen Verlag, 2016
Translated by Anne Middelhoek und Karin Ayche
Original title: Dit kan niet waar zijn (Atlas Contact, 2015)
This is not the sort of book on the financial world that will not appeal to non-specialists. Joris Luyendijk, an investigative journalist, knew as much about banking as the average person: almost nothing. Bankers, he thought, were ruthless, competitive, bonus-obsessed sharks, irrelevant to his life. And then he was assigned to investigate the financial sector.
Joris immersed himself in the City of London for a few years, speaking to over 200 people. They opened up about the toxic hiring and firing culture. They confessed to being overwhelmed by technological and mathematical opacity. They admitted that when Lehman Brothers went down in 2008 they hoarded food, put their money in gold and prepared to evacuate their children to the countryside. They agreed that nothing has changed since the crash. Joris had a chilling realisation. What if the bankers themselves aren’t the real enemy? What if the truth about global finance is more sinister than that?