Other People's Countries

Other People's Countries

A Journey into Memory


Winner of the 2014 Duff Cooper Prize
Winner of the 2015 Welsh Book of the Year Award

Shortlisted for the 2015 James Tait Black Memorial Prize
Shortlisted for the 2015 PEN Ackerley prize
Longlisted for the 2014 Thwaites Wainwright Prize

Let me take you down the thin cobblestoned streets of the Belgian border town of Bouillon. Let me take you down the alleys that lead into its past. To a town peopled with eccentrics, full of charm, menace and wonder. To the days before television, to Marie Bodard’s sweetshop, to the Nazi occupation and unexpected collaborators. To a place where one neighbour murders another over the misfortune of pigs and potatoes. To the hotel where the French poet Verlaine his lover Rimbaud, holed up whilst on the run from family, creditors and the law.

This exquisite meditation on place, time and memory is an illicit peek into other people’s countries, into the spaces they have populated with their memories, and might just make you revisit your own in a new and surprising way.


  • McGuinness is a marvellous writer... On every page there are breathtakingly gorgeous images, similes, metaphors.
    John Banville, Observer

About the author

Patrick McGuinness

Patrick McGuinness is the author of two previous books of poetry, two novels, The Last Hundred Days and Throw Me to the Wolves, and a non-fiction book about place, time and memory, and his mother's small Belgian border town of Bouillon - Other People's Countries - which was shortlisted for the PEN Ackerley Prize and the James Tait Black Prize, won the Wales Book of the Year, and the Duff Cooper Prize. He is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at St Anne's College, Oxford.
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