Author: Leon de Winter
ISBN: 978 1 59264 265 6

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Leon de Winter is a prize winning Dutch novelist, born in 1954. After penning a brilliant psychological thriller, Hoffman’s Hunger, de Winter has written about the conflict between the instinct to live and the painful, self-destructing guilt of being a survivor in God’s Gym. Jeannette K. Ringold has done an excellent translation from Dutch to English of God’s Gym.

Despite its heart wrenching subject, you cannot stop reading God’s Gym. December 22nd, 2000 is an auspicious day. It is Joop Koopman’s daughter 17th birthday.

In an original manner, de Winter buttresses his main storyline by a confluence of unfortunate accidents that lead to the senseless demise of his young daughter.

Like a domino effect, one person’s action is responsible for the next person’s action and so on, and so on, until the drama happens.

de Winter plunges his hero into stages of mourning. Unbelief, anger, total despair, talking about reincarnation with a former girlfriend, Linda, and witnessing his daughter’s heart transplanted into someone else’s body. Just before the tragedy, this shipwrecked soul is sought after by a Dutch friend, Philip, who is a Mossad agent and who wants him to go after a Dutch Muslim Terrorist, Omar.

Apparently, Miriam, Joop Koopman’s daughter, took a ride on God’s motorcycle, God being Godzilla, her health club manager and the inevitable happens while Joop is talking to his friend Philip.

We witness his total despair and his slow rebirth. Joop Koopman is a screen writer in need of money. He takes on Philip’s assignment (and payments) without really believing that elegant Omar is a terrorist. He uses Philip and Omar to get to see the person who received his daughter’s heart transplant.

The end is also abutted by the people responsible for his daughter’s death. He goes on to tell their story after the tragedy and who knows, maybe another novel will be born from these tellings.

Jeannette K. Ringold does justice to de Winter’s excellent writing. The suspense leaves your heart broken and breathless. This is a book that cannot be put down once started, even though it is so forlorn.

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