- Expected 14 Oct 2021
533 days in the life of a great European writer.
Though a tireless explorer of distant cultures, for more than forty years Cees Nooteboom has also been returning to the island of Menorca, "the island of the wind", and it is in his house there, with a study full of books and a garden taken over with native plants and fauna, that the 533 days of writing take place.
The product is not a diary, nor a set of movements of the soul organised by dates, but "a book of days" to retain "something of the flow of thoughts, and of what one reads and sees" with concerns about his cactus garden and suffering hibiscus, his love for Menorca, his thoughts on the world and on the place we humans have in the universe.
Every impression opens windows on vast horizons: the Divine Comedy and the books it generated, the impossible encounter between Montaigne and Feldman's music, the contempt of beloved Borges for his beloved Gombrowicz, the death of David Bowie, the endless flight of the Voyagers, the repetition of history as a tragedy, but never as a farce.
533 is a meditative rhapsody that would like to exclude the noise of current events, yet which sceptically contemplates the threat of a disintegrating Europe and must return to them several times, because if, as Candide says, "one must cultivate one's own garden", one's own garden is in the world, whether you like it or not.
Translated from the Dutch by Laura Watkinson