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the Complete Review

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Cees Nooteboom
at the
complete review:

biographical | bibliography | quotes | pros/cons | our opinion | links


Nationality: Netherlands
Born: 31 July, 1933
Awards: Pegasus Prize
Constantijn-Huysgens Prize, 1992

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Highlighted titles are under review at the complete review

  • De doden zoeben een huis - poetry, 1956
  • Philip and the Others - novel, 1956 (Philip en de anderen, trans. Adrienne Dixon, 1988)
  • Het zwarte gedicht - poetry, 1960
  • De koning is dood - novel, 1961
  • The Knight has Died - novel, 1963 (De ridder is gestorven, trans. Adrienne Dixon)
  • Een ochtend in Bahia - travel, 1968
  • Bitter Bolivia, Maanland Mali - travel, 1971
  • Een avond in Isfahan - travel, 1978
  • Rituals - novel, 1980 (Rituelen, trans. Adrienne Dixon, 1983)
  • A Song of Truth and Semblance - novel, 1981 (Een lied van schijn en wezen, trans. Adrienne Dixon, 1984)
  • Mokusei - novel, 1982 (Mokusei !, trans. Adrienne Dixon, 1985)
  • In the Dutch Mountains - novel, 1984 (In Nederland, trans. Adrienne Dixon, 1987)
  • De zucht naar het Westen - travel, 1985
  • The Following Story - novel, 1991 (trans. Ina Rilke)
  • Roads to Santiago - travel, 1992 (De omweg naar Santiago, trans. Ina Rilke, 1997)
  • The Captain of the Butterflies - poems, 1997 (from various collections, trans. Leonard Nathan and Herlinde Spahr)
  • All Souls Day - novel, 1999 (Allerzielen, trans. Susan Massotty, 2001)
  • Nomad's Hotel - travel, 2002 (Nootebooms hotel, trans. by Ann Kelland, 2006)
  • Lost Paradise - novel, 2004 (Paradijs verloren, trans. Susan Massotty, 2007)
  • The Foxes Come at Night - stories, 2009 ('s Nachts komen de vossen; tr. Ina Rilke, 2011)
  • 533 Days - non-fiction, 2016 (533; tr. Laura Watkinson, 2021
  • Venice - non-fiction, 2018 (Venetië; tr. Laura Watkinson, 2020

Please note that this bibliography is not necessarily complete.

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What others have to
say about
Cees Nooteboom:

  • "In this age of literary specialization, the Dutch author Cees Nooteboom still wears the many-colored coat of the man of letters - poet, novelist, playwright, translator and travel writer." - Michael Malone, The New York Times Book Review (11/10/1987)

  • "Much more than a 20th-century village storyteller, Cees Nooteboom stands as an impressive and inimitable voice among contemporary writers." - Linda Simon, The New York Times Book Review (9/9/1990)

  • "(D)espite contortions of self-reflexiveness that in another writer (Samuel Beckett, for instance) might give rise to agonies of the spirit, Nooteboom and his narrator-avatars strike one as too urbane, too much at home in the world, to genuinely suffer. This (...) is Nooteboom's peculiar misfortune as writer: that he is too intelligent, too sophisticated, too cool, to be able to commit himself to the grand illusioneering of realism, yet too little anguished by this fate -- this expulsion from the imaginative world of the heartfelt -- to work it up into a tragedy of its own." - J.M.Coetzee, The New York Review of Books (17/7/1997)

  • "In this country, he remains something of a writer's writer, whose books seem metaphors for art itself. (...) Like Nabokov's, Nooteboom's novels teem with allusion, and despite their brevity, some readers may feel the need for a refreher course in the Western (and often Eastern) intellectual and literary tradition." - Ed Park, The Village Voice (5/3/2002)

  • "All of his work possesses an erudition, a command of language, and skill that we find in America in Nabokov and Guy Davenport. Consider it a niche, if you will, but one we must keep." - Robert Buckeye, Review of Contemporary Fiction (Summer/2002)

  • "Nooteboom is a novelist of big themes, but he is never heavy-handed. He embeds philosophical musings in observations of the commonplace, so that his ideas sneak up on you, appearing unexpectedly, breathtakingly, like angels hidden in abandoned cupboards." - Jennifer Vanderbes, The Washington Post (4/11/2007)

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Pros and Cons
of the author's work:

  • Thoughtful, observant, poignant
  • Versatile: adept at fiction, poetry, and travel writing
  • Interesting perspectives
  • Often interesting approaches to both fiction and non-fiction

  • Vague, often elusive
  • Playful texts that try too hard with modern literary trickery
  • Hard to get a sense of whole output from what is available in translation

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the complete review's Opinion

     Dutch author Cees Nooteboom, educated by monks (Franciscans and Augustinians) is a worldly author with varied talents and interests. A noted poet, well-known travel-writer, and formidable novelist he has produced a large body of work. He has travelled widely, recording his impressions (and digressions) in his travel-books, and then often using much that he found abroad to inspire both his poetry and fiction. It is always interesting to see names, places, and influences reappear in various guises in his various works.
     His fiction is somewhat experimental, ably using a few simple devices for effect. He has trouble staying completely grounded in realism, but the books remain fairly straightforward, generally not with much more than a few layers to peel away to get to the root of things.
     The philosophical, literary, and artistic questions posed and discussed in his works differ from those of his countryman Harry Mulisch -- as does his approach --, but they are also of interest.
     A practiced travel-writer, he has seen much of the world and relates it well, revealing himself and his interests as well as the nations he journeys through.
     It is always interesting to read Nooteboom, and often also very enjoyable. He knows much of the world -- geography, history, psychology, and art -- and he packages and conveys it well.

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Cees Nooteboom : Cees Nooteboom's Books at the complete review: See also:
  • Index of Dutch literature at the complete review
  • Index of other Author Pages at the complete review

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