The noted Dutch poet and novelist Cees Nooteboom reflects upon the life of the mind through a reexamination of books, music, art, travel, and gardening
“Nooteboom’s real subject is the one that’s defined his career—mainly, the persistent strangeness of existence and its refusal to be fully resolved by religion, philosophy, or science. . . . His journal . . . can seem like a medieval bestiary, a nature chronicle with the vividness of a dream.”—Danny Heitman, Wall Street Journal
“Laura Watkinson’s deft English translation never reads like one.”—Michael Dirda, Washington Post
Though a tireless explorer of distant cultures, for more than forty years Cees Nooteboom has also been returning to Menorca, “the island of the wind.” It is in his house there, with a study full of books and a garden taken over by cacti and many insects, that the 533 days of writing take place. The result is not a diary, nor a set of movements of the soul organized by dates, but “a book of days,” with observations about what is immediately around him, his love for Menorca, his thoughts on the world, on life and death, on literature and oblivion. Every impression opens windows onto vast horizons: the Divine Comedy and the books it generated, Borges’ contempt for Gombrowicz, the death of David Bowie, the endless flight of the Voyagers, the repetition of history as a tragedy, but never as farce. 533 Days is a meditative rhapsody that would like to exclude the noise of current events, yet must return to them several times, and skeptically contemplates the threat of a disintegrating Europe. Reading these pages is like having a conversation with an extraordinary mind.
About the Author
Cees Nooteboom is a poet, novelist, and travel writer who has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, such as the Pegasus Prize and the Aristeion Prize. Laura Watkinson is an award-winning translator of Dutch, Italian, and German who has translated several works by Nooteboom, including Venice: The Lion, the City and the Water. Both Nooteboom and Watkinson live in Amsterdam.