A mosaic novel about a dinner party that takes a catastrophic turn.
'Seven narrators, each as fascinating as they are addictive, drew me into this book from the very first page and refused to let me go. Who Knows penetrates the deep, not always visible heart of the times we are living in, not only in the Netherlands but across Europe – the whole world over.’
- Herman Koch
Amsterdam, January 2015, the eve of a major protest march in response to the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Eight friends and family members are dining together. Subtle, telling descriptions reveal the tensions between the people at the table, exploring the fabric of today’s multicultural European society.
A dinner party in a fashionable house – but beneath the veneer of warmth and hospitality, trouble is brewing.
Short chapters, each one named after the person whose perspective it describes, shed light on the true relationships and frictions between the characters. The arrogant stockbroker Paul is ashamed of his sensitive brother, the park keeper Philip, and vice versa. Manon, Paul’s ex-wife, teaches at a university on the verge of a student uprising, and their twelve-year-old daughter Liv is being teased in her class’s online chat group. Mohammed, Manon’s new flame, is assumed to be a Muslim by the people around him, even though he’s non-religious. And then there’s Justus, a teacher with a habit of jumping into bed with his students – men and women alike – and who, in a drunken haze, climbs under the covers with Liv. When they’re found there, the ensuing fight brings the group’s suppressed conflicts to the surface.
All the characters are struggling to find their way in today’s multicultural society. Peace-loving Manon is accused of racism when she asks Liv’s headmaster to talk to the bullies in the school chat group, ‘and it just so happens they all come from immigrant families’. Her student Besma doesn’t feel welcome among the student activists, as a Muslim with a headscarf, but decides to join their protest anyway. Paul feels abandoned by his Somali girlfriend Ablah, who has always been a fierce opponent of Islam but won’t take part in the Charlie Hebdo march.
Who Knows offers a fascinating slice of contemporary urban life. All the characters wrestle with issues like social status, identity, prejudice and the desire to belong. Loontjens adeptly shows how people who live together often fail to understand each other, yet still feel connected.
'Loontjens’ work teems with freshness and originality. Her brand-new fourth novel is an incisive reflection on our age.’
- De Morgen ★★★★ ½
‘The brilliant prose, the use of language that captures both contemporary life and the various personae, characters that the reader can easily identify with, themes that are important and topical right now: all these things mean that you will finish the book in 24 hours. After which the reader will need at least 24 hours to recover!’
- Hebban ★★★★
‘A novel with so many characters always presents the author with a tremendous problem: how to introduce them all without resorting to mini-biographies, and how to make sure the reader can keep track of who’s who. Loontjens has found an exceptionally neat solution. She simply tells her story, and thanks to a detail here and a brief allusion there, the puzzle pieces fall into place. She also uses different narrators for each chapter, each with a distinctive voice, showing us some scenes several times from different perspectives.’
‘Intuitively, Loontjens lets the right voices speak. An impressive portrait of this period.’
– Het Parool
‘Who Knows is a novel after my own heart, written to the sometimes faltering heartbeat of our troubled times.’
-A.F.Th. van der Heijden.
‘In an ingenious way, Jannah Loontjens interweaves eight contemporary lives. A lively and pressing novel that pursues the spirit of the times.’
- Joke J. Hermsen
‘Jannah Loontjens is a courageous writer. She transforms the most difficult societal events into a moving novel.’
- Femke Halsema
BUT THEN AGAIN
Compelling novel about friendship and parenthood in a time when we are afraid to make choices
Typotex (Hungary) see here.
* For English sample translation contact Shared Stories *
But Then Again describes four days in the life of Mascha. She lives in Amsterdam, has a good job just like her boyfriend, and together they have two children. She leads a life that appears typical for our time, when social media and freedom of choice make life more fun, but also more complicated. We chat, WhatsApp, tweet, Facebook and find love online.
These four days in Mascha’s life paint a contemporary picture to which many will relate. She enjoys wild evenings with her friends, does her best to be a good mother, puts her relationship under the microscope, and has a secret Facebook affair. Every day she struggles with her responsibilities.
But Then Again is an exceptionally rich novel, which depicts not only the adventures of a young woman, but also tackles the important issues of our time – a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult to make choices.
PRAISE FOR BUT THEN AGAIN:
‘But Then Again offers an intimate glimpse into the life of a modern woman in all her guises. Poignant, philosophical thoughts shine through the mun- dane. Excellent work!’ – SASKIA DE COSTER
PRESS ON BUT THEN AGAIN:
‘What makes this novel so new, exciting and rich is the sophisticated way in which she inserts psychological, philosophical and social layers throughout the story.’ – TROUW
‘Vivacious and modern.’ – JAN MAGAZINE
‘Painfully recognizable.’ – VERONICA MAGAZINE
‘With this thought-provoking novel, Loontjens demonstrates the power of literature.’ – DE TIJD
FOR PRESS IN HUNGARY
Roaring Nineties describes our most recent fin de siècle and compares it with the present day. It was a time when it was believed the great wars were over. It was before 9/11, before the advent of mobile tele- phony and the Internet, a time of multicultural ideals, prosperity and optimism.
In the Roaring Nineties, Jannah Loontjens examines the image we have of that decade and the years leading up to it. She describes her experiences in the squat in The Hague where she lived with her mother. She talks about her philosophy studies in New York, where she was taught by the philosopher Derrida, about her job as a gogo dancer in nightclubs, and the post-structuralist thought that was fashionable at the time. She also looks back on her childhood in Sweden where, under a starry sky in a dark forest, the first big metaphysical questions crossed her mind. With reference to the work of Derrida, Baudrillard, Butler and Heidegger, Loontjens shows how her own life is connected with philosophy, and how major philosophical questions can go hand in hand with practical matters.
PRESS ON ROARING NINETIES:
‘With Roaring Nineties Jannah Loontjens has written a nostalgic ode to the 1990s, years of freedom and abundance.’ – Folia Magazine
‘Loontjens shows that philosophy is never merely philosophical. The philosophical is personal; and only when it becomes personal it is truly philosophical.’ - iFilosofie
‘Writer and philosopher Jannah Loontjens (born 1974) has compiled her very readable articles on the years prior to 9/11, which she describes in Roaring Nineties as ‘a time of multicultural ideals, prosperity and optimism’.’ – NRC Handelsblad
‘In Roaring Nineties philosopher and writer Jannah Loontjens interweaves memories of her personal life with observations about the nineties and the current decade.’ – Volkskrant
‘She [Jannah Loontjens] reminds us of the advent of home video, of films such as Pulp Fiction, but also of the Gulf War and the final days of the typewriter. And above all, she thinks about the zeitgeist of those years, which in retrospect almost feel innocent.’- Trouw
Roaring Nineties is nominated for Best Spiritual Book of 2016: ‘The jury found that this book offers a fascinating insight into the nineties generation and the flip side of options, freedom, the physical space to choose and doubts about choices, the fear of finality, the dismantling of religion as a certainty, philosophy as an aid in our search. Captivating as a snapshot of the era and, thanks to the very personal context of the writer, interesting as an interpretation of the current demand for meaning from this generation who grew up in the nineties.’
Jannah Loontjens (born 1974) is a philosopher and writer. In 2007 she debuted with the novel Good Luck. Her second, acclaimed novel What Time Really (2011) was nominated for the Halewijn Literature Prize. The essay collection My Life is Better than Literature was published in 2013. Loontjens teaches literary theory and literary writing at ArtEZ Institute of the Arts.