Author

Peter Verhelst

Peter Verhelst (b. 1962) made his debut as a poet, but primarily gained fame with his unusual, intriguing prose and his plays. After Vloeibaar harnas (Liquid Harness, 1993), Het spierenalfabet (The Muscle Alphabet, 1995) and De kleurenvanger (The Colour Catcher, 1996), his breakthrough came with Tongkat (Tongue Cat, 1999). In 2000 this novel was awarded the Gouden Uil literary prize by both the official jury and the alternative jury of young people. In Zwellend fruit (Swelling Fruit, 2000) and Memoires van een luipaard (Memoirs of a Leopard, 2001) he opted for a more traditional approach. The voluminous novel Zwerm (Swarm, 2005), which is ambitious both thematically and stylistically, is a highlight in his oeuvre.

The Muscle Alphabet

(Prometheus, 1995, 184 pages)

The novel’s nameless main character is a young man who has been given the task of cataloguing an ancient library’s collection of precious manuscripts and incunabula. Ensconced in a hexagonal crypt between statues symbolising the ‘seven liberal arts’, he sits down at his computer and starts familiarising himself with the achievements of his forebears. He soon finds himself confronted with questions.

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Tongue Cat

Tongue Cat

(Prometheus, 1999, 342 pages)

These days, the pursuit of perfection is all around us, a pursuit that is based on the notion that we can alter the world to suit us. But, according to recent theories, this view is untenable and perfect order always ultimately degenerates into chaos. In Tongue Cat, Peter Verhelst uses the various stories to describe how a city falls apart and comes to grief in chaos and violence.

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Memoirs of a Leopard

Memoirs of a Leopard

(Prometheus, 2001, 103 pages)

Peter Verhelst’s work often incorporates elements from Classical antiquity or mythology, for him stories with a solemn, sometimes even sacred tone and a compelling pattern that can be constantly retold in new versions and variations. His latest book, the novella Memoirs of a Leopard, refers to the Orpheus myth.

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Swarm

Swarm

Geschiedenis van de wereld

(Prometheus, 2005, 672 pages)

In Zwerm (Swarm) Peter Verhelst has generated a kaleidoscope of the violence, commotion, tense relationships, conflicts and outbursts of our present-day world. Some storylines refer to real events such as the My Lai massacre of the Vietnam War or the attack on the Twin Towers, both manifestations of mindless violence. However, Verhelst recreates reality in the form of a literary thriller that has been assembled in fragments, like a film. Some characters are grafted on to controversial figures who were briefly newsworthy.

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The Very Last Caracara in the World

The Very Last Caracara in the World

(Prometheus, 2012, 155 pages)

For years, the lonely, tormented doctor, Victor Duval, has been living on a magnificent tropical island. And not by chance, as one will find out. He is the main character in this enchanting tale of love, repression and migration. Unexpected events slowly but surely bring secrets from the past and present to the surface with a fatal outcome for Duval and everyone around him.

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