Heleen Debruyne / Heleen Debruyne – Friend of the Family

Heleen Debruyne – Friend of the Family

Heleen Debruyne – Friend of the Family

About the book

Why would a cremated grandmother deserve punishment? In search of answers, the protagonist delves into her family history. During the late 1960s, it seems the entire world is changing, but in this bourgeois Catholic part of Belgium, much remains the same. As a child, her father goes with his parents to church every week, as a formality. Afterwards, they eat, drink and listen to Maria Callas, often in the company of Albert, their rich, eccentric family friend. He also pays for all of their family vacations to Europe’s elegant resorts. But under that layer of luxury and the good life hide unmentionable, destructive desires. Why do mothers whisper that they do not dare leave their child alone with Albert? And why does love so often resemble a transaction in this environment?

Heleen Debruyne found inspiration for Friend of the Family in her grandparents’ letters and journals. These prompted her to explore motherhood, love and intimacy. A story about how the past stubbornly keeps influencing the present.

Read our sample translation of Friend of the Family

Press on previous work:

‘That is perhaps what makes The Opportunists such a successful debut: Debruyne’s talent for getting down a whole type of person with one sharp characterisation. Sharp, funny, striking – like the whole novel.’ – Het Parool

‘After I’d finished The Opportunists, I struggled for days to get into anybody else’s book. Everything else suddenly seemed much greyer, so much more “tedious” than this surprising, dazzling debut.’ – Tzum

HELEEN DEBRUYNE (b. 1988) grew up in West Flanders, Belgium. She works for radio station Klara and writes for Humo, among other publications. She is also known for Dirty Sheets, the book and podcast of the same name about sex and the body. Her well-received debut novel The Opportunists was published in 2016.

© Stephan Vanfleteren

Additional book information

  • Non-fiction
  • ISBN 9789403134710
  • Number of pages: 192
  • World rights: De Bezige Bij
  • Price: €21,99