Author

Cees Nooteboom

Cees Nooteboom (b. 1933) debuted in 1955 with the novel Philip en de anderen (Philip and the Others) and has since built up an imposing oeuvre of novels, poetry, short stories and travelogues. His work earned him numerous awards, among which the Bordewijk Prize an the (American) Pegasus Prize for Rituelen (Rituals, 1980) and the Aristeion European Prize for Literature for Het volgende verhaal (The Following Story, 1991). The latter was translated into over twenty languages and signalled his international breakthrough. In 2004 he was awarded the prestigious P.C. Hooft Prize for his entire oeuvre. The jury’s report stated that with regard to its power of expression, scope and originality, Cees Nooteboom’s prose is of the best produced in the Netherlands in the last fifty years. Among his other books are the travelogues Berlijnse notities (Berlin Notes, 1990), which won him the German 3rd of October Literature Prize, and De omweg naar Santiago (Roads to Santiago, 1992), and the novels Allerzielen (All Souls’ Day, 1998) and Paradijs verloren (Lost Paradise, 2004).

Translated titles

Rituals

Rituals

(De Arbeiderspers, 1980)

Set in Amsterdam during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, the novel opens with the protagonist’s attempted suicide after his wife, Zita, leaves him for an Italian. We follow Inni Wintrop as he wanders the streets of Amsterdam alone, looking for meaning in the ‘wonderful, empty universe’. Along the way he happens to encounter Arnold Taads and his estranged son, Philip. All three characters have lost their faith in God and are attempting to create their own meaning in life through rituals. Arnold Taads is rigidly tied to time. ‘Time,’ Inni learns, ‘was the father of all things in Arnold Taad’s life’.

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Roads to Santiago

Roads to Santiago

(Atlas, 1992, 413 pages)

For this book the born traveller Nooteboom made a selection from the many articles he has written about Spain over the last decades. That was no simple task, he explained in an interview, because of the degree of his devotion to that country. Nooteboom has been visiting Spain for forty years. He spends several months each year on one of the Spanish islands and has written a significant part of his work there. This close bond and his unconditional love made it difficult for him to maintain the distance a travel writer needs. In Berlin when the Wall fell, Nooteboom succeeded where many German authors failed by keeping an overview and the distance necessary for concise, pithy observations (…

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All Souls

All Souls

(Atlas, 1998, 400 pages)

Forty-five-year-old Arthur Daane, the central figure in Allerzielen, is a maker of TV documentaries. It is no accident that he lives in Berlin, where every stone bears traces of the city’s history. For years he has filmed impulsively, in secret, in the most unlikely places. At first glance, the images are unrelated: ‘a world torn to pieces, inert, reflective, without anecdotal content, fragments which would one day fit together.’

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Lost Paradise

Lost Paradise

(Atlas, 2004, 156 pages)

Cees Nooteboom’s Lost Paradise tells of an accidental meeting between two former lovers and is written in a postmodern style full of references to creation in general and the creation of this story in particular. In the first part of the novel, the reader travels the world with two young Brazilian women, Almut and Alma. The latter is trying to come to terms with a traumatic rape. She believes she has found paradise, or at least a semblance of it, in Australia. She becomes obsessed with an aboriginal artist whose paintings are as inaccessible to her as the painter himself; he is one representative of paradise lost.

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Red Rain

Red Rain

(De Bezige Bij, 2007, 223 pages)

Cees Nooteboom’s life has been all about travelling, reading and writing, and his oeuvre consists of travel stories as well as novels and poems. He has always been a superb stylist, observing the world with his special mixture of astonishment and melancholy, but until now Nooteboom has written little about his own life.

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Translations

Website

http://www.ceesnooteboom.com