Just read the book!

You can understand Cees Nooteboom’s frustration. He writes a potentially controversial book about a young Brazilian woman having mystically awakening sex with an almost speechless Aboriginal artist, and the response in Australia is silence.

“I’m curious,” he says from his home in Amsterdam, two days before he sets out for the Sydney Writers Festival, travelling via Thailand, Bali, Perth and Broome. “One writes about something in a way I would think would be a hot subject in Australia itself, and one would expect some reaction from Australia.”

Nooteboom then takes a very serious step, one that only a writer who is 75, much published, often cited as a potential Nobel prize winner, and who has several more books already in the pipeline, would feel confident enough to take: he bags his publisher.

“I asked my publisher, ‘Were there any reactions from Australia?”‘ Nooteboom says. “And apparently there were none. Then I asked Random Australia, one of those publicists they have, I would like to know what your editors think of this. When you’re a foreigner, you intrude in a certain way, so you want to know, how do they see it. Their answer was, ‘Our editors do not read the foreign fiction because there’s nothing to edit.”‘