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
The 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.