Skip to main content
A tapestry of heartache

Fifteen Wild Summers

Jan De Leeuw

Thomas is dead, but three people can still see him: his inconsolable mother, his beloved Orphee and his dying grandfather. The fifteen-year-old boy is forever present when they think of him and through his eyes the reader sees how they are losing themselves.

Thomas’ tone is dreamily distant and mild, and free from emotion. This approach allows this heartrending story of three generations to penetrate to deeper, more interesting layers. In this cleverly composed novel, the break in the timeline is so skilfully disguised that a lot is left to the reader’s guesswork and interpretation.

Fantastic, an author who dares to say: 'Stories are something to stay away from, they are dangerously addictive'

This complex tangle of various lives and perspectives works perfectly. The grandfather’s wonderfully enthralling and enchanting stories, such as the one about the ice bird summoned by a disappointed villager, which freezes the entire village, lift the book to a higher level. De Leeuw writes highly sensitive, keen prose with poignant images, and is painfully honest in showing that damaged, lonely people can be unreasonable and unkind, and that love can be an immense burden.

Poetic, vivid and full of harmonious images. Not a word or sentence too many.
Die Zeit
‘I appreciate his unwillingness to compromise’
Birgit Göckritz, editor at Gerstenberg Verlag, Germany

‘Jan De Leeuw is one of the very few writers who have accompanied me for almost my entire career at Gerstenberg. And I do hope this relationship will continue in the future. This wouldn’t be possible, of course, without translator Rolf Erdorf, his German voice.

What I love and appreciate most about Jan’s writing is his honesty and unwillingness to compromise. He doesn’t spare his characters or his readers. His books are therefore open to both young adults and grown-ups, and they are fascinating and gripping: the story, his characters and his use of language – which is always recognizable, even if it is different in each story. His style is often very direct, but at the same time poetic and full of strong images. Jan’s stories will always surprise you, they may frighten you at times, and they will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading them.

To live means to be involved in stories, and Jan is a master at telling them and intertwining them. Reading his books is a reminder not to hide but to dare to live and be yourself, no matter how difficult that might be at times.’