David Van Reybrouck wins the European Book Prize


This year's European Book Prize has been awarded to 'Zink' by the Belgian author David Van Reybrouck. With this prize, the jury awards work which contributes to a better understanding of the European Union as a cultural entity.

Zink is set in the mini-state of Neutral Moresnet, which existed from 1816 until 1919. It is now part of German-speaking Belgium. David Van Reybrouck tells the story of an inhabitant who has had five nationalities without ever moving house.

Although Zink is a work of non-fiction, it won the prize in the novel category. The jury, which was chaired by the German film director Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck (Das Leben der Anderen), found that the book contained sufficient literary qualities to qualify for this category.

It is not the first time a Belgian has won the European Book Prize. In 2007, the inaugural prize went to Guy Verhofstadt for his essay The United States of Europe. Jean-Pierre Orban won in 2015.

David Van Reybrouck is mainly known for his historical work Congo. He is also a leading advocate for more democracy, and wrote a pamphlet in this respect with the rather provocative title Against Elections. Much of his work has been translated into English and French.