‘A magnificent book. Honest, enjoyable, recognizable and exploratory.’

‘Inspired and literary, Loontjens takes the path to self-reconciliation.’

Poet, essayist, novelist and philosopher Jannah Loontjens, mother of two children, decides one year not to celebrate Christmas with her mother. She feels terribly burdened by this decision: how should she tell her? And where do those stubborn, persistent feelings of guilt (towards her mother, her lover, her children, her own body – after that one glass of wine too many – the list goes on) actually come from?

She decides to explore, with the help of philosophers, writers and theologians, her own conscience, analysing those awful pangs of guilt down to their core, fearlessly peeling them back, examining those moments in her past when she has felt unnecessarily guilty, and others when it truly was a matter of guilt. 

In the end, she comes to the realisation that feelings of guilt arise from a fear of others’ judgement: ‘My guilt often appears to be a mask, behind which fear lurks, fear of other people’s judgement. Fear that makes me pretend that everything is fine. This pseudo-contentment obstructs the path to honesty, and tenderness.’

‘Aside from all of the philosophical and psychological theorising, Guilty is above all a confession about what went wrong in the writer’s past.’

Page count 240
* Sample Translation Available *