Joël Dicker is a Swiss novelist, born on June 16, 1985. He is from Geneva, a French-speaking city in western Switzerland. Joel’s ancestors came to Geneva from France and Russia.
Joël attended Geneva schools. He was never very stimulated by academics, so at age 19 he enrolled for a year of drama school in Paris, at the Cours Florent. After one year, he returned to Geneva where he enrolled in law school. He received his Masters of Law from the University of Geneva in 2010.
From an early age, Joël has had a passion for music and writing. When he was seven, he got his start as a musician by learning the drums. At age 10, Joël founded La Gazette des Animaux (Animals’ Gazette), a magazine about nature that he directed for seven years. For this magazine, he won the Cunéo Prize for the Protection of Nature and was named “Switzerland’s youngest editor-in-chief” by the Tribune de Genève.
At age 20 he made his first attempts as a fiction writer. An early short story, "Le Tigre," was honored in 2005 by PIJA (International Prize for Young French-speaking Authors). It was published in the winners’ anthology by Hèbe Editions (Switzerland). The pleasure of seeing his work come to life in a published book encouraged him to take the plunge and begin to write a novel.
After a few tries, he wrote LES DERNIERS JOURS DE NOS PÈRES (THE FINAL DAYS OF OUR FATHERS), a novel that tells the true but little-known story of the SOE, an underground branch of the British Secret Intelligence Service. This branch, the Special Operations Executive, trained French Resistance cells during World War II.
Joël finished this manuscript in 2009 but no editor wanted it. He put it away in a drawer, but fate intervened. In 2010, Joël submitted LES DERNIERS JOURS DE NOS PÈRES to the Prix des Ecrivains Genevois (Geneva Writers’ Prize). This important prize is awarded to novelists every four years, but only for unpublished manuscripts. To his great surprise, Joël won this prize in December 2010. Vladimir Dimitrjevic, the highly-respected editor from Switzerland’s L’Age d’Homme publishing house, contacted Joël shortly after and offered to edit the book.
The initial plan was for the book to come out in Switzerland in April 2010. But Vladimir Dimitrjevic decided that the subject would interest the French as well, so he suggested delaying the book until September 2010, and co-editing it with the Parisian editor Bernard de Fallois. Sadly, Vladimir Dimitrjevic never saw the published book: in June 2010, he was killed in an automobile accident on his way to Paris.
However during the two years between writing LES DERNIERS JOURS DE NOS PÈRES and its publication, Joël was working hard on a new and more contemporary novel. For a long time he had wanted to try this: an American novel, long and breathless. He studied all the critiques he had received for LES DERNIERS JOURS DE NOS PÈRES and decided to re-work his style. As for North America, he knows it well: as a child he spent every summer vacation in New England. Later he crossed parts of Quebec and Maine by bike. Another year he crossed the midwest, out to Colorado, Montana and Wyoming. He lived in a tent for several weeks in mythical Yellowstone National Park, in order to observe the bears and wolves. He has also crossed British Colombia and the Yukon, all the way to Alaska. After two years of hard work, he finished the “American manuscript” in May 2012. LA VÈRITÈ SUR L'AFFAIRE HARRY QUEBERT (THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIR) is 670 pages long.
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