The Saint

(De heilige)

Martin Michael Driessen
The Saint

Donatien is born in 1789, the year of the French Revolution. Hungry for fame and fortune, he employs all his talents in the opportunistic game of life. His life story is a hedonistic schelmenroman – picaresque novel. He meets contemporaries like Victor Hugo, helps set up the Beaufort Scale and sales round Cape Horn on a mad expedition. As a highwayman he becomes notorious in the Voges. He is both healer and murderer, childishly innocent and unsuspectingly devilish, adored by women and men.

His uncompromising search for luck challenges not only the moral code but also the fluid boundaries of identity: at times he calls himself Donatien, at others Donatienne, and finally Dieudonne. Even when behind bars he manages to turn things to his favour with his charm and inventiveness.

Morally unsound to the end, he goes down in history as Saint Dieudonne of Metz.

‘The voice seduces you for the duration of a novel, wraps you up in pleasure’ Arjan Peters in De Morgen & Volkskrant

‘How brilliantly Martin Michael Driessen tells a story. He tells it so well that you almost forget that he writes it even better.. Here he attempts to grasp the spirit of our times and the man of the present. The prose is exceptional… Timeless books are also for our time.’ De Standaard

‘ ‘Driessen stands for fiction, for real fiction, for something new, for something that also remains new.’ NRC Book review

‘A hopeless opportunist, a ruthless villain, a gallant highwayman, an ascetic saint. The main character Donatien is all these things. But above all he is captivating, clever, funny and even heroic and self-sacrificing so that the reader takes him to heart and overlooks his crimes far too easily. From unethical villain to pure saint seems like an unbridgeable gap, but Driessen manages it. Hats off to the author who has, in Donatien, created an unforgettable literary figure.’ Erik Hoekstra, bookseller

‘THE SAINT is a brilliant novel that we give 5 STARS (excellent).’

‘THE SAINT is a schelmenroman, a book full of jest. I kept bursting out laughing. Just take the ominous opening line: “When I was a child many thought I was a saint, or destined to become one.” The main character Donatien is rather full of himself and does, without compassion, really terrible things. You could easily hate him. But that doesn’t happen and that’s thanks to Martin Michael Driessen. What a brilliant stylist. He describes Donatien and the situations he finds himself in, so vividly and coolly that it becomes comic. As the reader you are full of disbelief about what the main character gets up to – it really is bad – and yet you do believe it all. At a certain moment I even thought ‘let me google what the life of this Saint Donatien/Dieudonne of Metz was really like’. It appears he never existed. I had been completely wrong-footed. It all sprang from Driessen’s brain. THE SAINT makes me think of the wonderful EARTHLY POWERS by Anthony Burgess. In any case I love Driessen’s work. Read his fantastic novellas too: A TRUE HERO and RIVERS. THE SAINT – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED’ Libris Magazine


  • Van Oorschot NL (original publisher)
  • Philippe Rey France
  • Alianza Spain and Latin America

Material: Finished copies (233pp), English sample and translated press and full French translation