Stefan Hertmans / Stefan Hertmans – Shifts

Stefan Hertmans – Shifts

Stefan Hertmans – Shifts

Read our sample translation of Shifts

About the book

If there is one line that’s been reverberating in Stefan Hertmans’ mind for years, it’s Victor Klemperer’s famous quote, written with a steady hand in his famous journals during the Nazi period, amid terror and uncertainty: ‘The contemporary witness knows nothing.’ There is one thing that we do know: this is a time of transition to something we’re only just beginning to understand. We are all eyewitnesses, though we’re only partially aware of exactly what it is we’re a witness to—to our current reality and the shifts we feel every day without knowing exactly what they will amount to.

In these ruminations, as erudite as they are sensitive, Stefan Hertmans undertakes the challenge of trying to capture something of this zeitgeist, of pinning down the things that tend to elude our grasp in the chaos of day-to-day life.

Praise for The Ascent:

The Ascent can be read as the life story of a collaborator. A masterful storyteller, Hertmans sketches in an assured style what is first and foremost a fascinating family portrait.
– De Tijd

Hertmans is at times the cool chronicler, then at others the savvy novelist who etches events onto our retinas with a nonchalant bravura, a skilled storyteller who knows nearly every trick of the trade. – De Morgen


STEFAN HERTMANS (b. 1951) is the author of novels, story collections, essays and poetry. His work has won many awards, including the Multatuli Prize, the F. Bordewijk Prize, and the AKO Literature Prize. His novel War and Turpentine was nominated for the International Booker Prize in 2017. War and Turpentine sold 250,000 copies and has been published in twenty-four languages. His novel The Convert garnered praise from all quarters. It was published in 2016 and won the E. du Perron Prize in 2017. In 2019 Hertmans won the Constantijn Huygens Prize for his body of work. Publishing house Gallimard (France) has recently brought out Hertmans’ latest novel The Ascent alongside collections of both his essays and his poetry.

© Saskia Vanderstichele

Additional book information

  • Current affairs
  • ISBN 9789403146812
  • Number of pages: 221
  • World rights: De Bezige Bij
  • Price: €22,99
  • English sample available