Joe Speedboat

With his wheelchair-bound spastic narrator, Fransje Hermans, who can only speak in unintelligible grunts, Tommy Wieringa has succeeded in writing a dazzling novel whose every page sparkles with imagination, it is a splendid literary achievement. The story is driven by Joe Speedboat, friend and classmate of the narrator and, of course, his enterprising counterpart.

Original title
Joe speedboot
Tommy Wieringa

A newcomer to the small community of Lomark, Joe Speedboat – a selfchosen name – continually startles the villagers out of their lethargy with his spectacular actions. Whether he’s placing bombs or building an aeroplane in order to spy on Mrs. Eilander, supposedly sunning herself in the nude in her back garden, Joe is a centrifugal force who manages to turn the immobile Fransje into a sportsman by having him participate in arm-wrestling contests.

‘He wasn’t so much a special guy as a force that was freed. You tingled expectantly in his presence – there was an energy that took form in his hands, in no particular order he conjured up bombs, race-mopeds, and aeroplanes, juggling them like a light-hearted magician. I had never met anyone for whom ideas led so naturally to action, on whom fear and convention had so little influence.’ Joe Speedboat is also brilliant in showing the development of a close group of young people as they lose their innocence.

A book to fall in love with, right from the first page. It reminds one of the work of John Irving and Paul Auster. (…) With 'Joe Speedboat', Wieringa’s authorship has reached full maturity.

Het Parool

A central role is reserved for Mrs. Eilander’s daughter, the gorgeous PJ, who with her cascade of blond curls causes all the boys to lose their heads. They all fall in love with her, without realising who exactly they are dealing with. Fransje is the only one who does. A chaotic wedding party ensues which gets completely out of hand. It’s Joe’s doing. As the narrator Fransje says, all ‘is show with him until the last minute.’

Joe Speedboat has everything that turns a novel into a unique experience: intriguing characters who come alive in a dazzling, tragic-comic story that is wonderfully told – Wieringa surprises the reader with beautiful images, striking descriptions, and magnificent details on every page. His imagination is phenomenal.

Wieringa has been admirably successful in making the world of these not-so-nice boys tangible. (…) He has an enormous sense of rhythm. His sentences never lose their intensity. It keeps on going, keeps on swinging. A cracker.


'Joe Speedboot' is the kind of book that you would prefer to finish in bed with a flashlight.

Tommy Wieringa
Tommy Wieringa (b. 1967) is the author of Alles over Tristan (Everything About Tristan, 2002) and Joe Speedboat (2005), his staggeringly successful breakthrough novel which went on to sell 300,000 copies. Wieringa’s work has been translated into languages as disparate as French, Hebrew and Korean.
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