Cees Nooteboom talks to winstonsdad

I ve been lucky enough  to Ask The best Known Living Dutch writer Cees Nooteboom ,the prize winning writer is often mentioned as a Nobel prize winner for his body of Work so to tie in with his newest collection of stories being released in English and Iris of Iris on book Dutch literature month some questions About his books and Translation-.


  1. You are a travel writer ,art critic ,poet and literary writer – of these which is closest to your heart ?

The combination. My prose would not be the way it is without my interest, both as a writer and a reader, in poetry. Poetry goes to the heart of things, finds new ways for words, forces one to be precise,and at the same time implies an enormous freedom of thought and expression.

  1. How do you manage to find the time to write so prolifically ?                           Time is always there, it depends what you want to do with it. Couperus, who was more prolific than I am, always claimed that he was lazy.
  2. In this latest collection of stories to be translated  into English ,which came first The theme or The stories  ?                                                                                        The theme belongs to my age. Friends separate, colleague’s die, people disappear in all kinds of ways, and one finds time to reflect on all that, which belongs the work of memory.
  3. In the Foxes Come at Night how much of your own life has been invested into the stories ?                                                                                                                              This question was often asked of Marcel Proust. After all, the protagonist of his 4000 page book was called Marcel, like the author, and many people wanted to recognize themselves and others in his book. But he was adamant and said it was all fiction, including the author in the book with whom he shared a first name.

He was right, if only for the simple fact that Proust is dead, and the other Marcel is still very much alive in all these pages.

  1. How closely do you work with your translators ?                                                    Very close, especcially when they need me.
  2. How  important are champions of literature in translation such as publishers lik MacLehose Press ?                                                                                                         They are the salt of literary life, a last bulwark against the ever increasing commercialism of the international booktrade.
  3. I’m doing this as part of Iris on books Dutch Literature month – What is special about Dutch literature for the readers that may not have been introduced to it before ?                                                                                                        The Dutch are a rather special tribe, like the english, but smaller. On the other hand,Holland is not an island. It has taken the world a long time to recognize that there are some interesting writers out there, like Hermans, Mulisch, Claus, Mortier, van Dis, Grunberg, and many others. And of course it does not help that we know much more about English writers than English readers know about dutch literature. A small language can be a prison. Translation is liberation.
  4. Why do you think the English sometimes do not understand Dutch literature ?                                                                                                                                                      For the reason I have just indicated. Dutch literature may be an acquired taste, we are a metropolitan country, very densely populated, forced by size, inclination and the necessity of trade to be international, though lately rather inward looking. There is not enough land to serve as a counterweight to the cities. That makes for a rather special society. The language is spoken by 21 milion sometimes conceited citizens, with opinions about practically everything, in an eternal dialogue with each other.
  5. Do you have a favourite book (If yes please name it )?                           Remembrace of Things past, by Marcel Proust. Ala Recherchedu Temps Perdu.
  6. Which of your own books stands out for you ?                                                           The Knight has died ( De Ridder is gestorven, 1963), which has not been published in theUK. It is maybe not my best book , but it was very important in my writing life, since in it I understood for the first time what writing really was about. It was published in english long ago byLouisianaStateUniversityPress, and as I noticed recently inAustraliaandIndia, some of my fans have been able to find it in the ever expanding labyrinth of the internet where nothing is ever lost.

Cees new collection is out now by Maclehose press ,my review will follow shortly ,Many thanks to Nicci at Maclehose who help me get chance to ask Cees these questions .

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28 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mar
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 20:36:18

    Fantastic interview Stu! I haven’t read any Dutch translated books but you’ve inspired me. Thank you!

    Reply

  2. parrish
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 21:12:59

    Great coup , my knowledge of dutch writers is expanding daily having recently finished books by two totally different writers & now a third to add to the,list.

    Reply

  3. Heather
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 23:56:41

    Thanks for another great interview.

    Reply

  4. gina
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 00:30:03

    This is great, Stu. What an opportunity!

    Reply

  5. lizzysiddal
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 06:27:20

    Well done, Stu. That’s a really good interview.

    Cees was a bit naughty when he spoke to me at World Literature Weekend. I thought that you would grab the coup but he told me that it was for a Dutch blog …

    He also spoke about lots of other books that haven’t been translated into English or are out of print, such as Tombas, in which he visits the tombs of 80 poets and writers. Fortunately for me that has been translated into German. Also In The Dutch Mountains in which he invents new Dutch geography simply because he can! Needless to say I’m hunting them down via the internet.

    I particularly liked question 7 – lots of new names for me to discover.

    Reply

    • winstonsdad
      Jun 30, 2011 @ 11:16:08

      It is a shame all his books not available he is such a wonderful writer this is the third or fourth I ve read by him and always loved them ,he is a thoughtful writer like a lot dutch writers ,all the best stu (I knew I had it for a while but want to keep it quiet )

      Reply

  6. Leeswammes
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 07:35:45

    Really nice interview, Stu!

    Reply

  7. Trackback: Interview with Cees Nooteboom | Iris on Books
  8. Geosi Reads
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 10:24:11

    Stu, this is an interesting interview. I particularly like your question and his response on time management. Just after reading this, I had to google him out to read more about him. Thanks for constantly reminding me that I ought to be reading Dutch literature.

    Reply

  9. Nana Fredua-Agyeman
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 12:34:47

    Interesting interview.

    Reply

  10. Petty Witter
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 15:23:31

    thanks for this interview with Cees – I’m now eager to read some of his work to see if I understand it.

    Reply

  11. Iris
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 17:52:57

    You know how excited I was when I heard about your interview! I must have been a very annoying twitter follower that day, bothering you with all those questions!

    So how could I say anything but that this was such a nice way of getting better acquainted with Cees Nooteboom. Thank you so much.

    Reply

  12. Trackback: Rituals by Cees Nooteboom « Book Around The Corner
  13. empirialist@yahoo.com
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 04:32:19

    What a scoop. Dutch is so far absent in my list and now I’m enabled.

    Reply

  14. Trackback: The foxes come at night by Cees Nooteboom « Winstonsdad's Blog
  15. Tracey
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 17:58:41

    Thanks so much for this Stu – just reading those answers makes me want to try one of his books – I hadn’t heard of him before.

    Reply

  16. Caroline
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 17:06:06

    Lucky you to get to interview him. He was a bit evasive at times but that is his right. Still a very interesting interview. I will try and track that book down, he mentions, The Knight has Died. Maybe I can get it in German.

    Reply

    • winstonsdad
      Jul 10, 2011 @ 18:12:32

      I would imagine the knight has died is available in german for sure ,yes he is his enigmatic self ,but pleased he even agreed to a interview with me he is a true great of world writing ,all the best stu

      Reply

  17. Trackback: An Overview of Posts for Dutch Literature Month (2) | Iris on Books
  18. Trackback: In the Dutch Mountains by Cees Nooteboom | Winstonsdad's Blog

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