The Kabbalist

In an overwhelming final scene Chaim, disguised as a woman, finds his way through an Arab bathhouse in Jerusalem, on his search for the Ark of the Covenant, the names of the Godhead lighting up around him in golden letters. Hollywood can dust off the trumpets: scenes like these are made for movies.
- DE VOLKSKRANT (biggest daily paper of the Netherlands)

The kabbalist

The English rights of the books of Geert Kimpen are available, please contact the Dutch publisher De Arbeiderspers:

A faboulus legend

A young man must choose between ultimate wisdom and ultimate love.

Enlightening and inspiring.
- NOUVEAU (Dutch weekly)

Due to his interest in Judaism in general and in the Kabbalah in particular, Geert Kimpen came across the story of Chaim Vital: a littleknown sixteenth-century rabbi who recorded the ideas of Itschak Luria. Without Vital's literary talent, no one would know about Itschak Luria, the founder of a Kabbalah school that still exists today.
Luria plays a major role in The Kabbalist, but it is Chaim Vital who is the main character. Chaim is an exceptionally ambitious young man who dreams of a splendid future in Tsfat, a small town in North Galilee where the majority of Kabbalah interpreters live and study. Unfortunately, the road to success is strewn with more obstacles than he had expected.


When the great Kabbalah teacher, Cordovero, dies, Chaim expects to be appointed his successor. Instead, however, Chaim is informed that he must take lessons from Luria, who has the reputation of being a sham. The relationship between the men is a troubled one from the outset, and becomes even worse when Chaim takes a fancy to Luria's daughter, Francesa, and Luria explicitly forbids him to love her. Kimpen devotes attention to Luria's ideas, but The Kabbalist is primarily an exciting novel about egoism and ambition, with many interesting supporting characters: the sensual but tragic Franseca, Josjoea, Chaim's half-brother, consumed by resentment and forbidden passion, and the demonic rabbi Zimra, continually searching for the Ark of the Covenant that will make him the new Messiah. It is an enthralling debut.

This book deserves the kind of attention the Celestine Prophecy got, the surprise hit at the beginning of the nineties. The Kabbalist is a world-class book which wears its wisdom lightly, and touching the soul at its deepest.

Author Geert Kimpen: Biography

Geert KimpenGeert Kimpen (b. 1965) was born in Belgium and followed the director's programme at the Amsterdam College of Arts. Since 1990, he has been living in the Netherlands where he writes for the theatre, cabaret, and television. Kimpen wrote columns for an esoteric magazine, co-operated on Eric Woolfson's script for the musical Gaudi, and wrote the monologue, De verliefde componist ('Composer in Love') on Hector Berlioz. The novel was already published in the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovenia, Denmark, Germany and Portugal. Many more countries will follow.

The Kabbalist will be published in English for South East Asia, in 2009. It will be released in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maledives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. The publisher is Shabd Books. More information, and to make reservations:


... in this first novel it leads to a mixture of Paulo Coelho-like wisdom and oriental eroticism.
- TROUW (Dutch daily paper)

The Kabbalist - Synopsis

The true story of Chaim Vital, the man who unveiled the bible...

Through the true life story of the young 16th Century cleric Chaim Vital, The Kabbalist tells how each teacher learns what he himself teaches. While Chaim is trying to realize his great dream to be the first person in history to write down the secrets and life teachings of Kabbalah (during his lifetime it was only accessible to the initiated few), real life puts him to the test. Isn't the essence of Kabbalah about conquering the ego, about cultivating the best version of yourself and unselfishly sharing your unique talents with others? This is no easy request for an ambitious young man who seeks immortality with his Book of Books.

I was up all night, reading, and I just have to go on tonight. This mister Kimpen can't half write!
- RTL BOULEVARD (popular Dutch TV show)

The KabbalistChaim finds a teacher, Itschak Luria, prepared to disclose the Kabbalistic laws. But the most important insight that his teacher has to offer is not contained in the lessons themselves but in the tough confrontations with his own egoism. How can you write realistically about the essence of spiritual companionship when you have been bowled over by the extremely attractive daughter of your teacher, Francesa? Chaim knows that each person is born as half of a complete soul and finding your other half here on earth allows you to attain the highest goals. The other awakens a vision of your maximum spiritual potential. Francesa sets him on fire physically and emotionally but holds him back from his true life's goal - writing his book. The woman who truly loves him for who he is and for his purpose on earth, his landlady Anna, is someone he hardly takes a second glance at.

An overwhelming book full of passion, which stimulates the mind.
- ESTA (Dutch weekly)

When his teacher gives Francesa's hand to another man, Chaim wants to give up all of his dreams, his life and his ambition. During the night that he decides to leave town, life teaches him an important lesson. Through helping a young woman who has been assaulted and robbed, Chaim is able to forget his own misery. He gives her his full attention and in so doing discovers the subject matter for his book - unconditional giving with no expectation of receiving anything in return.

The Kabbalist is a runaway success. Geert Kimpen has written a bestseller and he has personally handed a copy to Madonna with whom he attended a Kabbalah class. Like Dan Brown he focuses on the Spiritual and just like Dan Brown he is successful.
- DAG ALLEMAAL (Belgian weekly)

The KabbalistWith renewed belief, he gives himself over to his teacher and works on his ambition, the book. Chaim tries to forget Francesa and gives up his job as a wool-dyer in order to devote all of his waking hours to the work. He survives thanks to the tender loving care and belief in him that his landlady Anna shows. When the book is finally finished, his teacher thanks him and says that he must publish it under this latter's name. Chaim is bewildered. He has given up everything in order to write this book and now it should be published as the work of his teacher? He has to ask himself what his true purpose had been, sharing Kabbalistic teachings with mankind or wanting to be the famous author of this work.

The Kabbalist was an overnight success - wide acclaim in the Dutch press, requests for translations from many countries. The mood reminds one of Dan Brown, who of course has become a household name.
- HET LAATSTE NIEUWS (main Belgian daily)

A plague breaks out in the town and the teacher Itschak becomes ill. On his deathbed he asks Chaim to continue working on the book, anonymously. He reminds him of the 72 secret names of God which should lead him to the Ark of the Covenant, buried for thousands of years under Temple Mountain in Jerusalem. However, Chaim has had enough of his teacher's lessons. He goes in search of Francesa whose husband has also died from the plague. She convinces him that her father was the one who couldn't rise above his own egoism, not Chaim. At last they can give themselves over to their love and decide to build a new life in Jerusalem. On the way they ritually burn Chaim's manuscript so that he can make a final break with his teacher and move on.

A tale in the tradition of Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, set in the 16th century, of the young Chaim Vital, who longs to absorb all the wisdom of the Jewish teachings. Which is just what the reader feels like after reading this book.
- GLAMOUR (Dutch weekly)

In Jerusalem, Francesca asks Zimra, Itschak's lifelong rival, for help in finding accommodation. Like Itschak, Zimra has long hunkered after finding the Ark of the Covenant and realizes that Chaim knows the secret. He takes his chance. He gives Francesca a sleeping draft and leaves her surrounded by deadly scorpions which will have kill her if she shows fear when she awakens. He uses the kidnap to force Chaim to reveal the hiding place of the Ark.

The Kabbalist

The book has an incredible pace. It seems destined for success.
- STORY (Belgian weekly)

Through his love for Francesa, Chaim is forced to complete Itschak's final mission. In secret tunnels under Temple Mountain he finds the Ark and meets Shekina, God's female counterpart. He sees how he has been driven all this time by lust rather than love. He realizes that he will only attain ultimate wisdom when he joins himself to his true love. Wisdom is true and unconditional love.

The Kabbalist

But it is too late to save Francesa from the scorpions. Chaim returns to his landlady Anna. He realizes that a student does not serve his master by remaining a poor student. Chastened by his experiences he has finally attained the proper state in which to write his book, as Itschak had imagined it. Four hundred years later this book finds its way to a large public.

The Kabbalist is a delightful book full of mystery and atmosphere, with a dreamy, exotic mood. It is exciting and occasionally even reminds one of The Da Vinci Code. Kimpen is a born storyteller and the lively, cinematic scenes of the book obviously owe something to his professional training as a director.
- 'T SCHELDT (Belgian weekly)

Publishing House:

De Arbeiderspers
Herengracht 370-372
NL - 1016 CH Amsterdam
TEL. +31 20 524 75 00
FAX +31 20 622 49 37
For information on translation rights please contact Michele Hutchison,
rights manager,

Flemish Literature Fund
for information on translation subsidies please contact Greet Ramael,
grants manager,

An extremely readable, sometimes magical book that tackles this complex topic in a lucid manner.

Reactions in the Dutch and Belgian media on the publication of The Kabbalist in Holland and Belgium


The Kabbalist

"A majestic debut novel that is also justifiably receiving acclaim abroad. (...) The fascinating style and the incisive use of language mean that many booklovers will read this novel, based on real characters and facts, in one gripping session."
- NDB Biblion

"It is through the telling of a good story that people are often able to gain illumination. And I appreciate the lessons within this tale. I think this novel has truly exciting international potential."
- Susan Lee Cohen, Riverside Literary Agency

"I have just finished reading the material you sent, and it is wonderful. Terrific storytelling, beautifully written. I had intended only to glance at it, on a Sunday afternoon, and read it later in the week, but I was drawn in immediately and couldn't stop."
- Judith Buckner, literary agent, Hollywood

"I found myself mesmerised. It is beautifully written, even in translation, and is moving in its simplicity/complexity. You are a natural storyteller. If my personal response is any indication -- and it should be! -- I think you have a winner on your hands. I think this novel has truly exciting international potential."
- Susan Lee Cohen, Riverside Literary Agency

"We are delighted and excited about handling the foreign rights for your book and look forward to working with you, Susan and the publishers as a team to reach the audience that your work deserves around the world. You have done so many intriguing things with the writing, all of them make sense, and congratulations on creating a novel that works on so many different levels. The names of God as sections is truly inspired and I look forward to reading the remainder of the English translation."
- Betty Anne Crawford, literary Agent, Books Crossing Borders, New York

"The first Dutch novel with the power and imagination of a Paulo Coelho."
- Lex Jansen, De Arbeiderspers

"A beautiful novel. Lyrical and compelling. Love the Dutch cover!"
- Gideon Weil, HarperCollins, San Francisco

"I am amazed at your literary qualities and your sensitivity for the spiritual. This must be a combination from above. Your book will spread out to the world. It shall be filmed, performed in theatres and a lot more that I won't tell you now..."
- Rabbi Michael Ben Pesach, author and teacher of Kabbalah, Amsterdam

"I would love to just stop working and finish the book in one go. But I will have to wait till I'm in the train home."
- Ester van Lierop, De Arbeiderspers, publishers

"What a beautiful book! The Jewish Da Vinci Code! I would love to have this book translated into Hebrew. But you might have to adopt a jewish pen name, because Israeli's will find it hard to understand how an 'outsider' can guide us so perfectly through our own past and show us the future, like a Rabbi."
- Dov Kallmann, Israƫl

Sample extracts in English:


The English rights of the books of Geert Kimpen are available, please contact the Dutch publisher De Arbeiderspers: