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David van Reybrouck, the writer-in-residence in 2008, traversed the “intergalactic mental distance between Wassenaar and the Democratic Republic of Congo” while writing parts of his highly acclaimed literary non-fiction book “Congo, a History”.
David van Reybrouck is a Flemish author of historical fiction, literary non-fiction, novels, poetry and plays. Before becoming a fulltime writer, he was a postdoctoral research fellow in HIstory at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. He is the founder of the Brussels Poetry Collective and the G1000 Citizens' Summit. Congo. A History was published in 2010 and became an international bestseller.
"During my five-month stay as a Writer-in-Residence at NIAS I was working on two projects: my literary non-fiction book on the history of Congo, and my essay on populism (due to appear in August 2008, as part of the notorious Pamflettenreeks, Pamphlet Series, by Querido Publishers).
The latter was scarcely conceived when I arrived in Wassenaar, but its emergence reveals the intricacies of the intellectually stimulating climate at NIAS. The daily exchanges with a number of fellows, the ease with which Dutch scholars outside the institute could be reached and the astonishing library services proved particularly conducive to creative thinking and greatly facilitated my forays into new fields of interest and inquiry.
Substantial progress was also made on my Congo research. Although the mental distance between Wassenaar and the Democratic Republic of Congo often seemed to verge on the intergalactic, I succeeded in securing a firm grip on the Mobutu years (1965-1997), a 32-year time span that still reverberates in today's politics and society in Central Africa."
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