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The remarkable relationship between a gay man and an African woman

The Third Marriage

Tom Lanoye

Maarten Seebregs is a man of no use. He is dying. His work has been taken away from him. All that is left to him are painkillers and the memory of his dead lover, up to the time of his serene and self-elected death. And then he is given the opportunity to make himself useful just one more time. Someone he has never met before offers him a large sum of money to enter into a marriage of convenience with his girlfriend, the African asylum seeker Tamara. Maarten hesitates, but not for long.

A marvellous book that makes you laugh out loud, shudder, and strikes you dumb

The book reads like an intense tragicomedy, spiced with criticism of the gay movement, the dumbing-down of television, the narrowmindedness of a cool urban neighbourhood, etc. Nothing is safe from Maarten’s mockery and nothing in this novel is more appealing than Maarten’s recollections of his dead lover. Lanoye balances between slapstick and drama, journalism and opera. This is also a highly topical novel. Physical decline, migration, problems with youngsters from ethnic minorities, racism: these are topics with a permanent place in the papers. ‘The Third Marriage’ is a real page-turner, written with great verve, endlessly quotable and extremely enjoyable.

This is a story of flesh and bones, with a feeling for the occasional one-liner and told with some panache by a man saying farewell to his life.