Winter in Antwerp
‘Winter in Antwerp’ is the singular follow-up to Gilliams’ Elias or the Struggle with the Nightingales. Elias now having lost his mother and spent months in hospital, is walking to his elderly father’s house. In brief, associative, yet carefully composed chapters, the narrator examines his past, his obsessions and his fears.
Gilliams’s work deserves a place on the literary Olympus. Not only because every single line sparkles and shines, but also because of the coherent structure of his workDe Volkskrant
Near-surrealistic visions are interspersed with dark, painfully awkward recollections of a way of life that no longer exists. Virtually everything seems on the point of collapse here: the old, familiar world of the castle life in ‘Elias’, the affected nineteenth-century bourgeois life with its social idiosyncrasies, but also the security of a child’s life. The cultivated rigidity of the members of his family contrasts with the vitality and extreme precision of his own realm of thought. ‘Winter in Antwerp’ is an extraordinary exploration of a bygone era, a fragmented first person narrator and a dazzling literary mind.
Gilliams has been a major influence for a number of Dutch and Flemish authors – amongst them Charlotte Mutsaers, Stefan Hertmans and Erwin Mortier - but his work remains unique in Dutch literature.
His is some of the most exquisite work to be found in DutchHet Vaderland