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Cees Nooteboom Interview Part 2

In the second part of the interview Nooteboom discusses his pilgrimages to writers’ and poets’ graves and his belief that reading poetry will make you a better writer. He also talks about his experiences in Berlin when the wall came down, which will be recounted in Notes From Berlin, to be published in 2012

Nooteboom: The Story So Far (In English)

A quick tour through those books of Cees Nooteboom’s that are still in print in the UK in English translation:

Herman Mussert goes to bed one night in Amsterdam and wakes up in a hotel in Portugal where twenty years before he slept with another man’s wife. The fable-like qualities of The Following Story, winner of the European Literary Prize in 1993, have made it the most popular of Nooteboom’s novels in English translation.

“Sharp, elegant prose . . . It recalls, in tone, Vladimir Nabokov. The language is, by turns, delicately allusive and rich, even ripely comic” DJ Enright, TLS

Roads to SantiagoThe first of Nooteboom’s volumes of travel writing to be translated into English, Roads to Santiago is perhaps the book on the Camino de Santiago – no mean feat in a crowded field. Its appeal and longevity may owe something to Nooteboom’s playfully digressive style: in each of these twenty-five excursions he feels at liberty to divert the reader’s attention from the main focus on to an estoeric or essential tidbit from Spanish history and culture.

“Clearly reflective and erudite by nature, he displays his knowledge in a delightful and effortless way and has the knack of sharing his passion in such a way that we seem to be discovering the basic essentials of Spanish history for ourselves” Euan Cameron, Sunday Telegraph

Nomad’s Hotel draws together thirty years of Nooteboom’s travel writing, fourteen stories spanning four continents, all starting from when he first left The Netherlands to see the wider world – as a hitchhiker. As a born traveller, Nooteboom devotes much of his energies in Hotel Nomad to addressing that most important of questions: what would make the perfect hotel?

“Nomad’s Hotel­ is a jewel of a travel book, free of pretension, full of easy adventure, fresh with childlike wonder for the world” Rory MacLean, Guardian

A playful, feather-light but satisfying novel about a Dutch literary critic and a young Brazilian woman who first meet in Australia and then in Austria, where the woman is turned into an angel and stuffed into a cupboard. In Lost Paradise, Nooteboom achieves a perfect synthesis of staunch realism and almost spiritual flights of fantasy, with a few judicious swipes at Dutch literary establishment thrown in along the way.

“Nooteboom’s characters are gripping, his dialogue humorous and his narrative brimming with musings about identity and redemption. His genius, however, is his seamless integration of contemporary, mythic and historic images” Jennifer Vanderbes, Washington Post

The Following Story and Roads to Santiago translated by Ina Rilke, Lost Paradise by Susan Massotty, and Nomad’s Hotel by Ann Kelland.


Cees Nooteboom At The World Literature Weekend

This week the MacLehose blog will dedicated to the great Cees Nooteboom, who will be in conversation with A.S. Byatt on Friday at the British Museum as part of the London Review Bookshop World Literature Weekend:

Cees Nooteboom
in conversation with A.S. Byatt

Friday 17 June at 4.30 p.m.
Venue: Stevenson Lecture Theatre, British Museum

Tickets: £9.00 [Book online]

It has been a good year for Mr. Nooteboom. In addition to his volume of short stories ’s Nachts komen de vossen being published in France and the U.K. (by us, as The Foxes Come at Night), he was also the guest of honour at the Dedica festival in Pordeone. His work was re-interpreted by artists from a variety of disciplines over a two-week celebration of a half a century of inspired writing.

One of the many events was a reading by actress Anna Bonaiuto of “Heinz”, the longest story in The Foxes Come at Night. The collection was only recently published in the U.K. and has not yet been reviewed, but Florence Noiville wrote of the French edition in Le Monde:

In truth one needs an outstanding talent to evoke these ideas with such grace.  It is difficult to know exactly where this mesmerizing spell comes from when reading these short stories.  What is certain is that, by this rare combination of emotions and humour, Nooteboom had already struck and seduced us when Mokusei was first published 25 years ago in France. And it is still as delightful as it was then.


To win a signed and dedicated copy of The Foxes Come at Night, respond to or reply to @maclehosepress on Twitter with Cees Nooteboom’s full name. (Competition is now finished 15/6/11.)