The Very Last Caracara in the World

A magical novel about vulnerable man in the wide, wide world

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.

The caracara is not only a rapacious falcon; on this island it is also a devastating wind. It heralds approaching doom.

The Belgian Doctor Duval moved to the island paradise years ago. Together with the priest, Coriolan, and the Madame from the coffee house, he involves himself in the destiny of Cassandra, the girl who stands constantly at the waterline since her beloved was lost at sea. She looks out silently over the waves, or evokes all the winds of the island in an intoxicating litany.

Life on the island is abruptly disturbed when not only several whales are washed, but also a number of women and girls who are unable to speak. Are they boat refugees? In the commotion, a hidden past of occupation and repression comes to light: Cassandra is the daughter of Madame and a wanted rebel. When she was born, Duval’s father, a hard-hearted officer in the occupying army, pressurised Madame into giving up her baby. History repeats itself, old scores are settled. The current rulers avenge themselves and Madame, Cassandra and all the women mysteriously lose their lives.

An inconsolable Duval, who turns out to have had a special relationship with Cassandra, wants to leave the island, but is killed in a flying boat accident. All this takes place amidst the glorious light and intense scents and colours bursting from each page.

It would be difficult to surpass the vividness of Verhelst’s prose.

De Standaard

The humanity and compassion of Verhelst’s description of man’s philosophical quest [for a place in the world] is reminiscent of Albert Camus’ The Plague and José Saramago’s The City of the Blind.

De Morgen


De allerlaatste caracara ter wereld (2012). Fiction, 155 pages.
Words: 28,000



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