Leon de Winter’s debut publication in 1976 was the short story collection The Day Before Yesterday: six stories. For his first novel De verwording van de jonge Durer [What became of young Durer] (1978), he received a debut award. Other early works include Looking for Eileen W. (1981) and La Place de la Bastille (1981). In 1986 Kaplan was published, describing the writer, Leo Kaplan, who suffered from writer’s block and an uncontrollable urge to sleep around. Kaplan was successful and turned out to be the first part of a series of novels about searching for origins, in a style quite different from his earlier work. De Winter’s books became bestsellers in the Netherlands and in other countries. The titles include SuperTex (1991), De ruimte van Sokolov [Sokolov’s Space] (1992), Zionoco (1995) and Serenade (1995), and 2002 saw the publication of another bestselling novel, God’s Gym, which was highly praised by the critics. His most recent books are Het recht op terugkeer [The Right to Return] (2008), VSV (2012) and Geronimo (2015), a spy story and literary novel about Osama bin Laden in which fact and fiction overlap. De Winter regularly writes articles in Dutch and German newspapers and magazines. In 2005 he received the Buber-Rosenzweig Medal in recognition of his fight against anti-Semitic and racist tendencies. He is married to the writer Jessica Durlacher. Their daughter Solomonica also writes; her debut novel was published in 2014 when she was seventeen.
Translated by Hanni Ehlers
Diogenes, September 2016
Original titel: Geronimo (De Bezige Bij, 2015)
‘Geronimo’ was the code word that the men of SEAL Team 6 were to use if they located Osama bin Laden. The commandos astonished the world with their spectacular operation. But did it really unfold as the official version would have us believe? In this novel, Leon de Winter plays a masterful game with that question.
Geronimo is also the story of Apana, an Afghan girl who develops a passion for Bach’s Goldberg Variations, and the story of Jabbar, a Pakistani boy whose most precious possession is an old kitchen stool, a stool that could set the course of history off in a crucial new direction. Then there is the story of American ex-commando Tom Johnson, through whose compassionate eyes we view a world full of cunning and tragedy, a world that is at the same time magnificent.
De Winter is the first author to call into question the entire official version of Operation Neptune Spear – in which Osama bin Laden was eliminated – in a high wire act of the imagination.
Thrilling. A page-turner that will dispel any last ounce of boredom. (…) ‘De Winter writes with immense vitality. His novels have a pace that would give a streamlined Jaguar a run for its money.
A novel with the momentum of a Tom Clancy thriller.