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Murder and cannibalism as acts of love

The Virgin Marino

Yves Petry

For ‘The Virgin Marino’ Petry 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.

Challengingly intellectual, poetic and unexpectedly humorous: a beautiful book

The culprit, Marino, is a technology nerd who has a paralyzing 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, the 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 interlaced with spiritual seriousness, melancholy and even tenderness.

The whole novel operates at the highest level, in terms of both thoughts and language
'Superior writing, daring, intense and driven'
Victor Schiferli, Petry’s former editor, now Fiction Promoter with the Dutch Foundation for Literature

‘‘The Virgin Marino’ represents superior writing, daring, intense and driven, and Yves Petry comes up to the mark at every turn. I noticed that many were inclined to baulk at the topic of the book, but I was quick to remind them that ‘The Virgin Marino’ didn’t set out to glorify cannibalism, just as Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’ wasn’t intended to promote paedophilia.

Petry – cleverly in my opinion – opts for the perspective of the dead man, and the merciless dissection of modern western society that follows is equally sharp. Literary style, black humour, a wealth of ideas, and the ability to tell an ingenious story in an uncommonly natural way typify Petry’s writing. ‘The Virgin Marino’ is one of a kind – I know of no other novel in which a voluntary victim of cannibalism gets to have his say after death and to captivate the reader in such a highly credible manner.’