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    2. April 2020

    Annelies Verbeke, Gent

    After three weeks, the thought of a world full of people locked up in rooms still feels irreal. The first weekend it overwhelmed me, also in a good sense: I never had so much virtual contact with people in such a short time. We are social beings, and we are in this together, I thought, moved, and I almost felt jealous of the walnut tree in my garden, that for years of growing towards the thin magnolia, had, just now, managed to touch one of its blossoms with a little wooden finger.
    Meanwhile, I understood it's not all going to be peace and love. In Belgium, 300 refugees were put on the street, with the order to leave the country within a month. While everyone is told to stay in. While it is prohibited to leave the country. A sick joke.
    I see the importance, the 'moral duty' of optimism more clearly, but on some moments it just feels like fraud. It was like that for me before Corona, but the virus sharpened it. Today, I will not bet on the logical insights this should bring forth, on a new kind of living as a result from those insights. This not so hard to understand lesson should lead us to a different, better way to treat nature, other living beings. We should now understand that it was not a good idea to economize on care-takers, the health-care sector, and in a new way of living governments would actually care about the ones who care. An insight could be that we miss all those people working in culture when they are out of sight.
    But apart from solidarity and beauty, I have seen a lot of opportunism and an immediate sacrifice of the weakest.
    I live from day to day; this is some kind of compulsory mindfulness to us all. For myself I hope that I manage to write something good in the coming weeks. When reality feels so unreal, I find it hard to invent fiction.

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    Annelies Verbeke Andreas Gressmann (Übersetzung) - Dreissig Tage

    Der Gegensatz könnte größer nicht sein zwischen dem offenherzigen, senegalesischen Musiker Alphonse und dem verregneten, flämischen Flachland mit seiner zugeknöpften Biederkeit und seinen Weltkriegsgräbern. Und doch zieht Alphonse mit seiner Brüsseler Freundin Kat genau hierher, um am Dorf ein neues Leben zu beginnen. Er verdingt sich als Heimwerker, und während er stets gut gelaunt Hecken schneidet, Dachböden ausräumt und Wände streicht, erzählen ihm die Nachbarn von Träumen und Affären, Familiengeheimnissen und Alltagssorgen. Alphonse arbeitet, hört zu und wird bald unentbehrlich. Und während wir Leser uns in Alphonses Charme und Menschenfreundlichkeit verlieben, braut sich bei den Einheimischen eine unvermutete Feindseligkeit zusammen…