Mokusei is the first book I’ve read from the Dutch novelist Cees Nooteboom, and it won’t be the last. I’ve found more than I expected in this little book. And Cees Nooteboom took his place among the authors I will read with pleasure. I feel like if he were a friend, we would get along real nice and chat for hours.
If you love Japan and Japanese culture as much as I do, you will love this little book as well. You’ll read little things about Japan, from kimonos to Mount Fuji, from Kyoto to elaborate gardens. If you like reading about Japan from such novels instead of touristic books, I would say buy it now and start reading. There is also a fantastic love story in this beautiful book. You may even think that the book was written for you, especially if you fell in love with a foreigner before.
The difference between cultures and “ending” of the love between two people will immediately catch your attention. Still, you will choose to fall in love like Arnold Pessers, a fantastic character. Even if you cannot see yourself anywhere in Mokusei, you will read about a man who falls in love with all his being. Also, Cees Nooteboom’s exceptional narration will stay with you for a long time. Enjoy!
Mokusei A Love Story – Cees Nooteboom
Two men talk in Tokyo. One, a Belgian, is a diplomat. The other, Dutch, is a photographer. What, they wonder, is the real face of Japan? How can they get beyond the European idea of the nation and its people with its exoticism and see Japan as it truly is? The Belgian has an idea: he helps the photographer find a model to shoot in front of Mount Fuji as the “typical Japanese.” The plan works better than either had imagined in fact, it works too well: the photographer falls in love, neglects his friend and his career, and, feeling out of place and disillusioned in Holland, returns to Japan as often as possible over the next five years. A reunion is planned: the three will meet again at Mount Fuji. Time, it seems, has stood still …except the woman has a secret, and plans of her own. This moving novel of obsession and difference is the latest masterwork from one of the greatest European writers working today, redolent with the power of desire and alive to the limits of our understanding of others.
Cees Nooteboom is a Dutch novelist, poet, and journalist. After the attention received by his novel Rituelen, which received the Pegasus Prize, it was the first of his novels to be translated into an English edition, published in 1983 by Louisiana State University Press of the United States.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: