GOD’S GYM by Leon de Winter


by and translated by
Email this review


Spycraft, reincarnation, tragic death, organ donation and old love apparently renewed all intersect on one fate-drenched day in Los Angeles.

De Winter (Hoffman’s Hunger, 2007) offers as a protagonist Netherlands-born Joop Koopman, once a moderately successful Hollywood scriptwriter, but now just scraping by in his late 40s. On Dec. 22, 2000, his beloved daughter Miriam’s 17th birthday, he goes to meet Philip, a boyhood friend who’s contacted him out of the blue and who wants, Joop presumes, a loan. It turns out that Philip now works for the Israeli government, and he has a professional proposition—an irresistible one, eventually, given that it’s attached to a lucrative writing gig. While Joop is talking with Philip, he receives a call from across town that will alter his life in even more profound ways. Soon after, he re-encounters his lost first love, Linda, now a radically shorn Buddhist traveling with a monk who claims to be the reincarnation of Joop’s grandfather, who perished in the Holocaust. (Linda divulges this, to Joop’s skeptical horror, only after they’ve rekindled the romance.) Add in the title character—no, not the Deity, but the 300-pound African-American owner of a health club who, caught up in tragic circumstances, pledges his life to Joop—and a Dutch-Moroccan computer techie who may or may not be part of a terror cell, and you have an odd and piquant stew.

Fast-paced and pretty ingeniously plotted.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59264-265-6
Page count: 330pp
Publisher: Toby Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2009