Literature: “City in Ruins”: Don Winslow presents his last book

Don Winslow, one of the world's most successful crime writers, is retiring from writing; his last novel is now being published in German. In the future, he wants to devote himself fully to the fight against Donald Trump.

The acknowledgements at the end of Don Winslow's last book begin with questions: “How is that supposed to work? After a long and happy career, how can I even begin to thank all the people who have contributed to this author's life, without whom it would not have been possible? It's impossible, but I have to try.”

Seven pages and dozens of names later, Winslow finally comes to the end. “Goodbyes are hard. After a long and wonderful career – far more than I ever dreamed of – all I can say is simply 'thank you' to all of you. Thank you so much!”

For more than 30 years, the US author has enjoyed global success mainly with crime novels – now his latest book, “City in Ruins”, which originally came out at the beginning of April, is being published in German by HarperCollins. The 70-year-old bestselling author wants to devote himself to something “that feels more difficult”: political activism and the fight against Donald Trump, who wants to be re-elected US President in November.

Future in political activism

Winslow has been involved in other activities besides writing for several years, including videos and online publications, but now he wants to focus fully on activism. “I just can't reach as many people with a novel,” Winslow told the New York Times. “And the books take so much time in an era where much faster responses are needed.”

Trump is a “would-be dictator, a fascist who, when he was voted out, tried to take back this power with a coup,” said the writer of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung”. The Trump side doesn't shy away from violent attacks, but the other side does: “Unfortunately, the Democratic Party sometimes has reservations about really hitting back. I don't.”

Trilogy “the work of my life”

With “City in Ruins”, the thriller author has now presented one final work – and at the same time completed a trilogy that he says he has been working on his entire writing career. “Of course I've done other things, but I kept coming back to this trilogy. When I was close to completing it, it felt like two rivers flowing together. It was the work of my life and completing it felt like the end of something.”

“City on Fire” was released in 2022, “City of Dreams” in 2023, now “City in Ruins”. All three novels are about Danny Ryan, who starts out as a dock worker and mafia member on the US East Coast and eventually becomes a wealthy businessman in Las Vegas. In the third part, Ryan is actually a rich, successful and satisfied entrepreneur, with a girlfriend, family and friends – but his past catches up with him and so things get bloodthirsty again towards the end.

The publisher describes the book as a “thriller about love and hate, ambition and despair, revenge and compassion, ranging from the corridors of power of Washington, DC, to Wall Street, to the golden casinos of Las Vegas.” In any case, Winslow manages to entertain his readers in his usual way, to captivate them, to describe them with concise, precise language and good powers of observation and to always keep the tension high.

“City on Fire” is coming to cinemas

Winslow, who was born in New York in 1953, became famous. He says he was exposed to the mafia scene while growing up on the US east coast and later worked as an investigator, primarily with crime novels about the drug war such as “Days of the Dead”, “The Cartel” and “Years of the Hunter”. Several of his works have been made into films – and now that his writing career is over, Winslow fans can at least look forward to the film adaptation of “City on Fire” with Hollywood star Austin Butler in the lead role.

The end of his life as a writer was hard for him, says Winslow: “It's difficult for me to leave all this behind me, but you can't always choose the times in which you live and what tasks arise for you .”