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Verhelst, Peter

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

(1962-    ) Belgian/Flemish poet, playwright and author, active from the mid 1980s; at least two of his novels are of genre interest. In Tongkat: Een Verhalenbordeel ["Tonguecat: A Story Brothel"] (1999; trans Sherry Marx as Tonguecat: A Novel 2003), the titan Prometheus leaves his primordial world and comes to an unnamed Labyrinthine Near Future City beginning to disintegrate physically and culturally as the consequences of a sudden ice age grip more and more fiercely; the city's underclass – tonguecats, or whores, whose primary role seems to be the recounting of stories – are about to revolt. The novel is narrated through various conflicting voices (see Postmodernism and SF), and its intricacies generate a sense of the deep back influence of writers like Luis Jorge Borges, though its overall coherence as a novel is reminiscent of the work of Michael Swanwick. Geschiedenis van een berg ["Story from a Mountain"] (2013; trans David Colmer as The Man I Became 2016) is a Satirical Apes as Human tale whose protagonist, an ape brought from the jungle and trained to pass in human society, eventually finds himself in a Zoo where he performs in a play designed to tell the Homo sapiens story. By the end of the tale, an intense surreality – as in the previous novel – transforms the world. [JC]

Peter Roger Arthur Marcel Verhelst

born Bruges, Belgium: 28 January 1962

works (highly selected)


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