The most hated woman in Belgium sits in her prison cell preparing for imminent release. Between brief interludes of counsel from Sister Virginie and Anouk, the prison psychiatrist, Odette is left alone to labor through the memories of her former life. Obsessive and reflective, yet crucially lacking in remorse, Odette's testimony is a tricky script to untangle. Based on the real-life events of Michelle Martin, ex-wife of the notorious child abductor, murderer and serial rapist, Marc Dutroux, this is a fictionalized account of the inner workings of Martin's mind before, during, and after the crimes that shook a nation in the 1990s.
The excuses and abuses of this killer's accomplice make for a brave exploration of psychological trauma, and the slide towards its most extreme of consequences. In The Woman Who Fed the Dogs, Hemmerechts has produced a daring novel that positions the reader uncomfortably close to the human behind these unforgivable acts.
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About the AuthorNever having been one to shy away from controversy, Kristien Hemmerechts is the author of twenty novels, and numerous collections of short stories and autobiographical essays. Hemmerechts teaches English Literature at University College Brussels and Creative Writing at the Herman Teirlinck Institute in Antwerp. She has been awarded the Flemish State Prize and the Frans Kellendonk Prize for her complete works.
"With unnerving conviction, this novel inhabits the mind, heart and voice of Belgium's 'most hated woman', the ex-wife of murderer Marc Dutroux - the authenticity makes for a compelling narrative." --Blake Morrison
"The naturalness of this reconstruction of a life is mind-blowing" --Pantheon Boekhandel
"This penetrating portrait...will haunt you long after reading, and throws up more questions than answers, as all good literature should." --NBD Biblion
"Hemmerechts expertly shows us that nothing is simple or black and white...She writes superbly...Hemmerechts expertly portrays the connections between sex and power and violence, and how those interact with racism. She also writes superbly about how our childhood forms us as adults." --We Love This Book
"Kristien Hemmerechts didn't write an apology for an inhuman woman, but simply a very good novel...As is the case with the best written of books, it is not what is said, but what is not said that makes the writing so accomplished...As an exploration of true crime and psychology this is a rare example of literary prowess." --For Books Sake
"The narrative is impossible for the reader to escape, unknowingly and at most points unwillingly, you are dragged into her world." --Exposé
"As clear as crystal and very impressive." --KNACK
"A daring but successful endeavor to paint a probing psychological portrait of a complex ...an intense evocation of an unusual, intriguing relationship, astonishing and sometimes provocative in all its directness" --Flanders Literature
"Kristien Hemmerechts executes a macabre work of art." --Vrij Nederland
"Without sympathizing or showing understanding for Martin, Hemmerechts shows us the inner workings of the mind of a woman with a horrific past and an uncertain future" --Flanders Today
"...raises interesting questions about fear, dependence, guilt, penance and the problem of forgiveness." --Tzum
"Very cleverly written...With this book Hemmerechts has created a very strong thinking exercise with an ingeniously developed main character. All this in a smooth style, which makes the book read like a train." --Hebban
"Thematically, this story fits seamlessly inside an oeuvre in which parents and children, and in particular women trying to determine their position in relation to others (wherein power and sexuality are recurring motifs), occupy a central place." --Hanta
"As a psychological novel, the book convinces." --De Leesclub van Alles
"It grabs you by the throat and doesn't let you go." --Nine Sisters
"With her latest offering Hemmerechts evokes compassion and fascination...If you can accomplish that while creating confusion and discomfort among your readers regarding the topic of evil...then you are great. Huge." --ZiN Magazine
"An essay about fiction, reality, sensation, and the right to write" --Diggit Magazine