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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


The very first pages are so powerful that you suspect the author must have binned the preceding pages that were needed to climb to such heights. He amazes the reader with images that are bursting with energy.
de Volkskrant
Nooteboom's book of days is a magnificent book. It is written in an outstanding style. He writes about the most ordinary things, but in a lyrical way . . . A jewel of a book
Reading this book is like having an extraordinary conversation with an extraordinary mind. It possesses absolute artistry, an unobtrusive but unmissable purity of looking, thinking, expressing - hypnotic in rhythm and masterful lyricism
Groene Amsterdammer
A journal of observations and reflections, full of profundities and bright linguistic concision
Ulrich Greiner, Die Zeit
the 533 days captivate in their undisguised openness to the world
Harald Eggebrecht, Sueddeutsche Zeitung