|Appears in||Boulevard of freedom (Dutch: Boulevard van de vrijheid)|
Gregoire Liebman is a major character in the novella Boulevard van de vrijheid (Boulevard of freedom)[note 1]
The back cover states that Leopold Kirsch was a social worker who wants to retell the most touching story form his career, indicating that it is a true story. Although he does not want the story to be published in his homeland Germany, his friend Jef Rademakers has convinced him to at least publish a Dutch translation.
It is unclear whether or not this is factual or just part of the worldbuilding.
Gregoir was born to Frederique Liebman and Maman (French for mother, her real name is not revealed). His parents are of wealthy decent. He possibly had hydrocephalus, and learned to talk rather late, at age 3. When he was 7, he was sent to a boarding school because his parents did not want to deal with him. He graduated primary school at 14 and secondary school at 22. During school holidays, he was not allowed to go outside unsupervised. After graduating secondary school, his parents paid the boarding school so that Gregoire could stay for a while longer. A year later, his father passed, and he moved to a small province town with his mother, to a mansion at the titular boulevard.
During the following 15 years, Gregoire continues to be kept under supervision by his mother and only leaves the house when they go out shopping at the local supermarket. When his mother joins a bridge club, she forces Gregoire to pick up philately as a hobby and join the philately club in the city (so he can keep himself occupied while she's not there to supervise). He learns to take the bus to the city, but after a few weeks ditches the philately club and instead roams around the city. He discovers the red light district and after initial hesitation, ends up as a regular customer - all unbeknownst to his mother.
When one of the cashiers of the local supermarket resorts to prostitution to pay of her husband's debts, Gregoire decides to help out. He uses Maman's debit card to withdraw large amounts of money. When she tries to ask him about this, a squabble ensues and she falls down the stairs. Unbeknownst to Gregoire, she survives. Leopold Kirsch (the narrator of the story and a social worker) tries to get to the bottom of what happened. When it is clear that Gregoire has not done anything malicious, it is decided that he will go to an assisted living facility in the big city. He still does not know that his mother has survived.
Gregoire is a rather round man. He always wears a coat with burburry motif and a hat - regardless of weather. He walks with large strides.
The character is specifically stated to be autistic on multiple occasions. However, Leopold Kirsch has some doubts on the validity of this diagnosis. Gregoire possibly had hydrocephalus and some developmental delay, which caused his parents to be disappointed in him. Going into the boarding school, he was already regarded as a child with which something was wrong, making him a target for bullying. Leopold Kirsch believed that Gregoire being shut off from the outside world was more a coping mechanism to deal with these early childhood circumstances than a deviation in brain neurology, however Gregoire does not indicate that he was bullied.
- There is no official English translation available.