Pascal Verbeken

© Marco MertensPascal Verbeken was born in Ghent, 1965. He works as a journalist at the Belgian magazine ‘Humo’. In the spring of 2007 he published Poor Wallonia. Travels through Belgium’s promised land. Poor Wallonia , written in the  tradition of old school new journalism, is quintessential reading material for all who want to comprehend what is going on in Belgium. Furthermore it’s a great read.

In 1903 the French-speaking Belgian journalist Auguste De Winne wrote Travels through Poor Flanders, a classical report of a journey along ‘holes of sadness’ where poverty, famine, illiteracy and exploitation are omnipresent. One hundred years later, Pascal Verbeken undertakes the journey in the opposite direction. Verbeken goes on the road, through the countryside of the province of Waals-Brabant and further along the old industrial axis of the Borinage, La Louvière, Charleroi, Seraing and Liège. Verbeken makes a penetrating analysis of Walloon society, deals with numerous worn-out phrases and reminds the rich Flemish region again of its miserable past. Dozens of Walloons get the opportunity to say what they have to say. The result is a multi-layered moving portrayal of a country struggling to regain its lost pride.

For this debut Pascal Verbeken did receive this spring the M.J. Brusse-prize for the best journalist book, awarded by the Dutch Fonds Bijzondere Journalistieke Projecten (Dutch fund for investigative journalism and special research projects). Poor Wallonia was also on the shortlist of the ABN AMRO-Prize for the best non-fiction book of the year.
The Franco-Belgian publisher Le Castor Astral will publish the French version of Poor Wallonia – Travels through Belgium’s promised land.
In the autumn of 2009 the film adaptation of ‘Poor Wallonia’ (directed by Luckas Vander Taelen) will be broadcasted as a documentary series on the VRT.

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