English information

Lieve Joris, who was born in Belgium and lives in Amsterdam, published widely acclaimed reports of her journeys in the Middle East, Africa and China, and has written an award-winning book on Hungary.

In 1985 she set sail to the former Belgian colony of Congo, where her great-uncle had been a missionary. Congo became a recurring theme in her work, leading successively to Back to the CongoDans van de luipaard (The Leopard’s Dance), The Rebels’ Hour and De hoogvlaktes (The High Plains). The Rebels’ Hour was nominated for the T.R. Fyvel Book Award. For the French edition of De hoogvlaktes, Joris was awarded the Prix Nicolas Bouvier 2009. An extract from The High Plains was published in the winter 2009 issue of The Paris Review.

Mali Blues, the account of her travels through Senegal, Mauritania and Mali, gained Joris the Belgian triennial award for Flemish prose and the French Prix de l’Astrolabe.

In Op de vleugels van de draak (On the Wings of the Dragon), Joris journeys between Africa and China, immersing herself in the world of Africans and Chinese who venture into each other’s territory in the slipstream of big business contracts. The book received the VPRO Bob Den Uyl Prize (Best Dutch travel book) 2014.

In her memoir Terug naar Neerpelt (Back to Neerpelt, 2018), Joris returns to the Flemish countryside where she grew up as the middle child of a turbulent family of nine. ‘She has honored the paradise of her youth and did not steer clear of the snakes,’ the Dutch writer Maarten Asscher noted. The French Le Point wrote: ‘Everything tightens on the dark trajectory of her brother Fonny, a seductive, talented and destructive angel. And to everyone’s question: how to escape him without abandoning him?’ The book was shortlisted for the Dutch Bookspot Prize for Non-fiction Literature 2019.

Hildeke (2022) tells the story of her younger sister, who had Down syndrome and was gifted with a ‘singing heart’, but also with an unfailing antenna for right and wrong. The Belgian daily De Standaard wrote: “She lifts the private story of her family to a universal one, adding the village she has left to the world she has traded it for.” Joris has often stated that growing up between Fonny and Hildeke – two extremes on the scale of the human condition – has prepared her for a life of traveling in harsh circumstances.

Joris’ books have been translated into English, French, German, Spanish, Catalan, Norwegian, Hungarian and Polish.

‘As deeply reported and directly observed as the very best nonfiction.’

‘Inside the invisible demi-Holocaust of the Congo. Powerful and brilliant. Highly recommended.’
– HOWARD FRENCH on The Rebels’ Hour

‘What Lieve Joris does is not so much field research as the literary vivisection of contemporary history.’

English translations

Back to the Congo (Macmillan London, 1992; Atheneum, New York, 1992)
The Gates of Damascus (Lonely Planet, Australia, 1996)
Mali Blues (Lonely Planet, Australia, 1998)
The Rebels’ Hour (Grove-Atlantic US, 2008/Atlantic UK, 2008)


Review The Rebels’ Hour in The Telegraph
Grove Atlantic (US)
Interview about The Rebels’ Hour on Fora.tv
The New Yorker on The Rebels’ Hour

Radio Books: Bollieke or My elderly father and his cat

For information on translation rights please contact Hayo Deinum.