France in a flux as all eyes are on Europe

Images (left to right) by Julia Taubitz / Unsplash, Michael Treu / Pixabay and Kirstie Coolin / Pixabay

France, one of the six founding members of the organisation now known as the European Union, is in a political flux. What effect will that have on Europe? Excerpts from This Week, Those Books offer crucial context with an alternative account of the European project and a prize-winning story about the power balance in relationships, notably between a country and its citizens. Sign up at and get the post and four-minute podcast the day it drops 

The Big Story:

When the 27-country European Union (EU) elected a new parliament, it showed the bloc’s evolution – from post-national liberal project to an entity that includes many insular political forces.

This Week, Those Books:

A bold examination of the EU as a way to erase European countries’ difficult past.

A story about a destructive love affair intersects with key moments of European history.

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Eurowhiteness: Culture, Empire and Race in the European Project

By: Hans Kundnani

Publisher: Hurst

Year: 2023

My rating: Thought-provoking

This is an unusual book by an unusual writer. Hans Kundnani, the British-born-and-bred son of Indian and Dutch parents, voted against Brexit but remains unconvinced the European project is an “expression of cosmopolitanism”. Pointing to its hostility to immigrants and Islam, he writes that most people think the EU stands for diversity and inclusion and opposes nationalism and racism. However, it may be better understood “as an expression of regionalism, which is analogous to nationalism”, but on a larger, continental scale. Kundnani says that European integration after World War II helped the former colonialists join together to continue to project power on the global stage. Serving as “a vehicle for imperial amnesia”…


By: Jenny Erpenbeck (author), Michael Hofmann (translator)

Publisher: Granta Books

Year: 2023

My rating: Bleakly beautiful

This book is ostensibly about a doomed love affair but it also threads another story – about the power balance in relationships, notably between a country and its citizens.

The basic plot is simply told. Katharina, 19, and Hans, 53, are citizens of communist East Germany, a state that is collapsing by the time they meet in 1986. Falling in love – or lust…

Kairos became the first German novel to win the International Booker Prize for translated fiction.

The Backstory:

Far-right parties, which are largely hostile to climate-friendly and multi-cultural policies, increased their share of seats to a quarter of the European parliament – up from a fifth in 2019. Almost all these seat gains occurred in three of Europe’s largest countries – France, Germany and Italy…

I hope you find This Week, Those Books useful, thoughtful, and…a conversation starter. It’s a small operation here at TWTB, and support from readers like you helps keep this news literacy project going.

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A version of this was originally published at This Week, Those Books under the headline It’s all kicking off in Europe 

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