The Virgin Marino
A bizarre murder case - winner of the Libris Prijs 2011
De maagd Marino (The Virgin Marino), Yves Petry’s fifth novel, is his most characteristic and ambitious to date. Petry derived his theme from a shocking murder case in Germany – a man asked his friend to castrate him, kill him and eat parts of him.
Yves Petry doesn’t reconstruct the case, but searches in his characters’ states of mind for a possible explanation of what motivates people to do such things. Perpetrator Marino is a colourless technology nerd with a paralysing mother fixation. Requester Bruno was a lecturer in Literature, but he quit his job, disenchanted with the academic world and convinced of the uselessness of his discipline. Neither of them succeeds in having meaningful relationships with other people.
The story starts after Marino’s conviction. While he is in jail, Bruno, the deceased, dictates a report. The author thus allows the character who is the hardest to justify to state his reasons. In doing so, Bruno also voices Yves Petry’s thoughts on phenomena like religion, the study of literature, sexuality and pornography, and people who are adrift in an insensitive society. Again, Petry portrays man as little more than an indolent, ‘molecular machine’ – despite all his physical and emotional functions hardly a remarkable phenomenon.
Yves Petry writes with an absolute belief in the power of precise formulation and is clearly a believer in thorough, traditional writing. However, his prose is lent a special, unusual touch by his cynical sarcastic undertone, often embroidered with a touch of misanthropy, but equally often lit up by his hilarious, albeit cool, irony and gallows humour with regard to writing. Says literature specialist Bruno about writers’ attempts to understand the world: ‘We can’t understand the world that exists. A world we can understand would be too simple for us to exist in.’