Mind the Book festival turns eye to modern society


This year's edition of the Mind the Book festival takes a critical look at contemporary society, with help from actors, economists and philosophers

From democracy to motherhood

Mind the Book, the kick-off of Flanders’ Book Week, switches between Ghent and Antwerp every year, and this year the latter hosts the festival at deSingel. Rich with a wide-range of special guests, the festival takes a critical look at contemporary society. Focusing on socially conscious fiction and non-fiction, readers and writers get the chance to indulge in debates and lectures and browse the bookshop.

This year’s eclectic mix of subjects sounds timeless, but everything is placed in a modern context, from freedom, exclusion, poverty and growth to love, Napoleon and domestic bliss. International Women’s Day falls on 8 March and also figures heavily.

Celebrated Dutch-American sociologist and economist Saskia Sassen gets things rolling on Thursday evening with her take on globalisation and international migration. On the same evening, renowned Dutch author Cees Noteboom talks to journalist Piet Piryns about his life, career and an ever-changing society, while Flemish actor Els Dottermans adds her own flair to a few of Noteboom’s texts.

Also at the festival is British philosopher John Gray (pictured) of Straw Dogs fame, who discusses why freedom is merely an illusion, and Canadian author and playwright Ann-Marie MacDonald (The Way the Crow Flies, pictured), who tackles the myths of motherhood together with Flemish TV journalist Annelies Beck.

Flemish author Dimitri Verhulst (De helaasheid der dingen) closes the festival with what should be an interesting discussion with TV journalist Phara De Aguirre about the novella he wrote for Book Week.

Most talks with international authors at Mind the Book are in English. You won’t find language information on the website, so if in doubt, contact the organisation. Most Mind the Book events are held at deSingel, but several other locations, such as M HKA, CinemaZuid and Antwerp University, are offering additional, related programming.
5-8 March at deSingel, Antwerp