Window, Key

For a female author, life as she has known it comes to an abrupt halt one day when she meets another woman she’s instantly drawn to, but then also loses her boyfriend in an accident for which she blames herself. A novel about attraction and guilt, about grief, life and literature.

Original title
Raam, sleutel
Robbert Welagen

Karlijn has just published her debut novel when a journalist named Hanna comes to visit with a camera crew in tow. Karlijn walks them out afterwards, but remembers too late that she has left a window open and there’s a through draft: she watches the door slam shut right in front of her. She uses her neighbour’s phone to call her boyfriend Arne, a teacher who has just finished work for the day. They agree to meet halfway so he can give her his key, and he gets on his bicycle. She sets off walking to meet him, until she notices that an accident has taken place.

Window, Key is about the confusion that floods Karlijn in the months after Arne’s death. She feels guilty about her boyfriend’s death – all the more so when she realises that the door would never have slammed shut in the first place if she hadn’t felt so attracted to the journalist who suggestively placed a hand on Karlijn’s knee after their conversation. If she hadn’t engaged in this flirtation that got her so hot and bothered she had to open the window, Arne might still be alive. But she keeps on engaging, again and again, and she and Hanna become lovers.

As a writer, Welagen is all about silence and small gestures, as we can see in Karlijn’s obsession with erasing the past. She rubs out every word in the little notebook she previously filled up while working on her novel – and when she finds passages in other books that Hanna has underlined that remind Karlijn a little too much of their own situation, she erases those pencil marks too. Window, Key is a stunning novel about the unfamiliar within ourselves, about love, grief and starting over, and about how literature can be a kind of magic balm.

This mesmerising book is the work of a writer at the peak of his powers.

NRC Handelsblad

With his restrained, perfectly calibrated novel, Welagen shows that the question of whether men are able to write about the love between women is a superfluous one.

de Volkskrant
Robbert Welagen
Robbert Welagen (b. 1981) is a Dutch author of nine novels as well as a number of short stories. He lives in the woods outside Zeist.
Part ofFiction
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