Macedonian writer Goce Smilevski plans to dedicate his time as a Writer in Residence in Amsterdam to his research about Dutch cultural life in the 15th and 16th century and the travels of Dutch artists to Italy in that period. The subject of humanist Holland has always captured his interest. His residency lasts from August 15 until October 30 2008 and is generously supported by the European Cultural Foundation.
Six years ago the young writer Goce Smilevski from Macedonia (1975), educated at the University of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje and at the Central European University in Budapest, completed his book Conversation with Spinoza (translator Filip Korzenski), which immediately was awarded Best Book of the year in Macedonia.
Reason for the commission to make him one of our writers in residence this year, as in 2008 Spinoza is one of the icons of Amsterdam World Book Capital. The European Jewish Press wrote the following comment about the English translation:
Not only does Smilevski fulfill the difficult task of explaining Spinoza’s dense ideas, dropping sly references to Darwin and Kundera into 17th-century Dutch life, but he makes a hidden life wonderfully manifest.
A literary blogger notes that the subtitle ‘A Cobweb Novel’ is well chosen as: “one of Spinoza’s favorite pastimes was putting two spiders in a jar and watching them fight to death. Smilevski is cruel, too, but never to his reader, who is positioned as a conversationalist with the great philosopher on his deathbed. Rather, Smilevski is cruel to his subject, Spinoza himself, putting him not only through all the paces that good research can conjure when liberally handled (for example, Spinoza is heard at a young age arguing his mature ideas with Rabbi Saul Levi Mortera, the influential scholar and teacher responsible for Spinoza’s cherem, or excommunication), but also through many trials that are pure, and often gratuitous, invention.”