Return to Killary Harbour

Love, struggle and politics

A journalist retires to the village of his childhood to get away from the excesses and stress of city life. Thirty years previously he had been left by two girlfriends in quick succession. Now one of these ex-girlfriends is mayor of the village; she does not recognize him. He moves in with the other, whose long marriage has just broken up. Gradually, subtly, disillusionment and dissatisfaction gnaw at his apparently simple life. The merest suspicion of infidelity triggers his suppressed need for revenge and he plans gruesome action.

With Return to Killary Harbour Guido van Heulendonk nimbly and ingeniously weaves several threads together, while keeping crises off the page, deliberately leaving the reader to work out what happens from the hints and clues scattered through the text, that the main character is planning a double suicide near Killary Harbour. The author actively nudges the reader towards the denouement.

As in all Guido van Heulendonk’s novels the narrator is an underdog who shelters behind detachment and cynicism. He seems undisturbed by Flemish mannerisms and peculiarities while underneath he is seething with frustration and schemes resistance, setting out to topple accepted norms and values. Van Heulendonk portrays his main character in finely honed, detached prose that is suggestive and yet deliberately devoid of emotion. He unmasks romantic ideals, respected artistic achievement and heightened discourse about hollow values as forms of self-deception. Behind Van Heulendonk’s muted ridicule and cynicism, lies an intriguing and menacing vision of life.

A striking, recalcitrant novel de standaard As a novel, due to the rather recalcitrant, laconic and occasionally hilarious style, and the ingeniously sophisticated and challengingly fragmented composition, it is an extremely exceptional achievement.

De Morgen


Terug naar Killary Harbour (2004). Fiction, 238 pages.


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