For English readers

Dear Surfer,

Welcome to my website which like most writers I use for three things: to peddle books, alert you to current activities and give some background on myself. For two year I was active on the JorisLuyendijk Banking blog for the Guardian in London, an experiment in long-tail journalism. If you want to know more, here  you go.

 

The Dutch edition of my book on Finance & The City came out in Holland on Feb 17 2016.

Also on special offer is an account of my time as a correspondent in the Middle East. In the book I am trying to be as critical of correspondents as correspondents are of the rest of humanity. It is called Het zijn net mensen and has sold a whopping quarter of a million copies in the Netherlands alone. It even won a few prizes in Holland and France, and there are now a dozen or so translations. So if you’re English (Hello Everybody, Profile Publishers), American (People Like Us, Soft Skull/Counterpoint), Australian (Fit to Print, Scribe), German (Wie im Echten Leben, Tropen), French (Des Hommes comme les Autres, Nevicata), Danish (Folk som os, Informations), Italian (Gente come Noi, Saggiatore), Hungarian (Elkendőzött valóság, Niyott), Arabic (بشرمثلنا , Arabic Scientifc Publishers) or Slovenian (Je res ali ste videli na televiziji?, Mladinska Knjiga) you can read it in your own language. And if you happen to be Japanese or Korean, you will soon be able to, too, as editions for these countries are in the works. I cannot tell you how proud this list makes me, so I won’t.

The book changed the way people watch the news, or so it is argued in this pretty wonderful review in the Financial Times. There are a few other reviews in English, from Australia: [here] and [here] and the UK. In the US, the book has received no attention whatsoever, something it more or less predicts. If you know German, there’s lots of stuff from theTageszeitungDie Welt and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

What else? We are encouraged to view ourselves through the prism of the government census questionnaire, so here goes: I was born in Amsterdam in 1971 and educated in the Netherlands, the US and Egypt. In the mid-90s, I did a year of anthropological fieldwork in the Egyptian capital of Cairo. It was a magnificent adventure and formed the inspiration for my début in 1998: a non-fiction account of adventures with Egyptian students, called Egypte, een goede man slaat soms zijn vrouw (Egypt, A Good Man Sometimes Beats His Wife). The book did well in the Netherlands and got translated into German (Die Kinder der Midaq Gasse), where it tanked. Perhaps they should have kept the title, but then again, perhaps the book is just crap.

Shortly after the book came out, a Dutch newspaper asked me to become their Middle East correspondent. Jumping at the chance, I had five roller-coaster years as a reporter, first from Cairo, then Beirut and finally East Jerusalem. By 2003 I had had enough and returned to the Netherlands to write a book. This became the aforementioned Het zijn net mensen. This book makes two main arguments. The first is that dictatorships are so fundamentally different from democracies that you cannot describe and report them accurately if you use only the tools of journalism developed in the West. This is why the Arab Spring or Awakening came as such a surprise: dictatorships are fundamentally non-transparent, that’s how they survive. The second argument in Het Zijn Net Mensen is that objectivity is a myth, and that in media wars, Western powers like Israel, NATO or the American army are at a huge advantage over their non-Western, non-democratic opponents. This piece I did for Le Monde Diplomatique elaborates, while this talk at a conference examines in some depth why objectivity for journalists is impossible (a no-brainer in philosophy and the arts, I know, but a fact still lost on many media organisations).

These days I have gotten very interested in the web, and more generally, in this stunning transformation all of us are living through. Change itself seems to be changing, and incredible new opportunities for the collection, presentation and delivery of information are opening up. I think we haven’t even scratched the surface of what is possible and I feel extraordinarily privileged to be part of a pioneering media organisation like the Guardian. Here’s an interview I did shortly before they took me on.

Should you like to get in touch, please send an email to my Dutch Publisher ycramer@atlascontact.nl, who will forward it.