1967, Tongeren Author. Essayist. Editor for the literary journal DW B.
He studied mathematics and philosophy and wrote his first novel in 1999, Het jaar van de man [The Year of the Man]. Then, in 2001, Gods eigen muziek [God’s own music] followed, as well as De laatste woorden van Leo Wekeman [Leo Wekeman’s Last Words] (2003) and De achterblijver [The One Who Stayed Behind] (2006). He received the Libris Literature Prize and the Inktaap young people’s jury award for his controversial novel about homosexual and cannibalistic love, De maagd Marino [The Virgin Marino] (2010). In 2015, Liefde bij wijze van spreken [Love as it were] was published. Besides novels, Petry writes essays and plays such as De misdaad [The Crime ](2012), which Guy Cassiers staged as the third part of his theatre trilogy on Robert Musil. Petry’s novel De maagd Marino has been translated into German.
Petry excels particularly in his literary style and well-turned phrases.
Translated by Gregor Seferens
Original title: De maagd Marino (De Bezige Bij, 2010)
The Virgin Marino (In Paradisum) is Petry’s most characteristic and ambitious novel to date. He was inspired by a notorious murder case in Germany in which a man was castrated, killed and eaten by his friend at his own request. Petry does not reconstruct the case, instead his novel seeks a possible explanation for what might possess someone to do such a thing.
The culprit, Marino, is a dull technology nerd who has a paralysing bond with his mother. Bruno, the man who makes the request, is a literature lecturer who gave up his job out of contempt for the academic world. The two fail to establish contact with others and regard carrying out their cannibalistic plan as a unique opportunity to intensify their relationship. The story starts with Marino’s sentencing. While he is in prison, dead Bruno dictates this account to him, enabling the author to put the motives of the victim into words, with hindsight. Petry’s power lies in a combination of extremely precise, carefully considered formulations and astounding stylistic elegance. His prose is given a special flavour by its ironic undertone and regularly embellished by dashes of misanthropy and gallows humour, all oddly interlaced with spiritual seriousness, melancholy and even tenderness."
De maagd Marino is an extraordinary novel, both intelligent and bewildering.
One of the most striking voices in the new generation of Flemish writers.