ON AIR: Dimitri Verhulst - The Latecomer
During our first air voyage of the spring, Flemish author and poet Dimitri Verhulst (1972) presented his latest book, THE LATECOMER. Discussion with the author was led by Jan M. Heller, excerpts from the book were read by translator Veronika ter Harmsel Havlikova.
What are people most afraid of these days? Certainly also that at the end of their lives they will end up alone, abandoned in some retirement home with a failing body and mind, at the mercy or lack thereof of overworked and underpaid staff members.
This was precisely the end that librarian, Latin scholar, expert on Erasmus of Rotterdam, and lover of birds and minimalist classical music Désiré Cordier had feared. However, the small-town life of this seventy-year-old, tyrannized by his wife and misunderstood by his children, is so depressing that like a fabled knight, the decides to ride out to meet his fear head-on; with characteristic precision, he learns the symptoms of progressing Alzheimer’s Disease and is capable of simulating them so well that he ends up in a facility for demented patients, away from everything that tormented him. But at what cost?
This is a plot that in the relatively small space of one of his newest books, The Latecomer, Dimitri Verhulst developed quite masterfully. In doing so he paid homage, among other things, to Czech pábitel [sometimes translated into English as palaverer] Bohumil Hrabal – not only to his life and work, but above all to the courage with which Hrabal finally left this life.
And readers? Thanks to Verhulst’s wordplay and black humour, they will have a blast. Or perhaps they will feel a slight tingle run down their spine when they realize that they themselves will once find themselves sitting at a sham stop for Bus 77 aiming for Station Nothingness...
The book is being published by Odeon Publishing House.
Free for members of the DOX Friends Club
Reservations are recommended at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The programme will be simultaneously translated from English into Czech.