Dangerous Obsessions by Bob Van Laerhoven

Shocking short stories with war as a background, set in different countries

Dangerous obsessions

Tight, taut, and shocking, these stories all have warped love as the source of violence. Belgian/Flemish author Bob Van Laerhoven, winner of the USA Best Book Award 2014 in the category Mystery/Suspense and the Hercule Poirot Prize with his controversial novel Baudelaire's Revenge, connects the fate of individuals with profound social changes. Van Laerhoven has been a travel writer in conflict-zones from 1990 until 2003 and echos of his experiences trickle through these confronting and thrilling tales, set in civil war-torn Algeria in the fifties, in a gypsy populated concentration-camp during WWII, in a Peruvian border-town where stealing is a deadly art, in Liberia during the civil war in the nineties, and in Belgian Congo during the bloody uproar in the sixties. Omnia vincit amor - Love conquers all - the saying goes. But not our Dangerous Obsessions.

Genre: FICTION / Short Stories (single author)

Secondary Genre: FICTION / Suspense

Language: English

Keywords: conflict, suspense, war, set in different countries, shocking, mystery

Word Count: 24.608

Sales info:

Named "Best short story collection 2015" in the San Diego Book Review. Currently being translated in Chinese.

Some reviews:
Dangerous Obsessions" is not for the faint of heart. Its five stories, set in horrific places such as war-torn Liberia, in a Nazi prison camp in occupied Poland during the Second World War, features wonderful main characters who are quite realistic but aren't at their best, being up against a brutal death or a march to the gas chamber. Sometimes the author writes his own stories, in other cases his story is translated, but his brilliance shines through no matter what. "Dangerous Obsessions" tells of life as it is in terrible times, not how the reader wishes it to be.(LibraryThing Five stars review))

Of the dozen or so stand-out individual short story collections I enjoyed in 2015, the Belgian author Bob Van Laerhoven's was the standy-outiest. Van Laerhoven's stories always surprise without descending into the cheap thrills of fakery and he uses his journalistic experience to write about the cold and the cruel aspects of human nature with unflinching truth. (Author Hubert O' Hearn in The 2015 Books Of The Year - San Diego Book Review)

The central theme of the five stories is war, love (erotic, parental, fraternal and friendly) and obsessions. All the stories are grim, dramatic, and carry a lot of psychological pain. They leave to the reader a bitter taste about humanity. But they are also breathtaking and enthralling. (...) The author does a great work to capture the reader's attention from the beginning. He describes the scenes so well that readers get a feeling that they are real.  (....) I recommend this collection  to anyone who likes  dramatic and down to the earth crime/ mystery stories.  (Castor onlinebookclub.org)

Each story is a lot more than just a tale; they are all profound studies of the human soul, the conditions of war and upheaval, the world we've created around us, and the double-edged sword known as love. Though this might seem like a rather grandiose ambition, to reflect on so many questions lacking concrete, once-and-for-all answers, but it ends up making for a captivating and fascinating read that sets itself apart from other books by just how much it makes you think.
When it comes to the writing itself, the pen that brought us Baudelaire's Revenge is still strong as ever, hindered in no way by the fact that it had to be translated. The stories all flow beautifully from one scene to the next, and Laerhoven really has a gift for using the specific words that will hook the reader in, the words that allow him to express his ideas to his full satisfaction. Be warned that there are some relatively graphic moments in there, though in my opinion they only serve to make the stories more memorable, the kind that will etch themselves into your mind for a long time to come.
All things considered, Dangerous Obsessions is a different kind of book from what you'd expect to find amongst today's vampires and werewolves; it is a philosophical exploration of the human condition, a confrontation with the darkest corners of our minds. I highly recommend this moving and gripping collection of stories to anyone seeking to be moved by something truly thought-provoking.
(David Ben Efraim - Quick Book Reviews ) 


Sample text:


Written in English by the Author                                                                


This morning, I talked to Kori beside the barbed wire fence of the Kinderstammlager. Seeing me again, my eleven-year-old little brother tried to be brave. I asked him how life was treating him. In a decided manner, he answered: “Good.” I told him that I had seen how he played a macabre game with his friends: they escorted “prisoners” into the open-air latrine where they “had to perish from the gas.” Subsequently, they escorted “the stiffs” outside and pretended to pull out gold teeth. While they performed this pantomime, they yelled several German curses they had learned.

“What’s the name of that game?” I asked.

“Oven,” Kori answered, his cheeks lightly flushed. Maybe he felt that I saw his blush. He evaded my eyes like a skittish sheep-dog. “When will you get me my violin?”




Book translation status:

The book is available for translation into any language except those listed below:

Translation in progress.
Already translated. Translated by Paolo Santini
Author review:
Paolo Santini's Italian translation of "Dangerous Obsessions" is elegant, full of finesse, and stylish. An author cannot wish for more.
Already translated. Translated by Taís Paulilo Blauth
Author review:
Taís Paulilo Blauth was very charming and easy to work with and produced swiftly an elegant and subtle translation of my literary work, for which I'm truly grateful.
Already translated. Translated by Fabiola Amado
Author review:
The translator delivered a stylish translation; the communication went very nice; altogether, a truly positive outcome...
Already translated. Translated by Jill Selling
Author review:
Jill is very nice to work with and delivers quality.

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