I hesitate to review a book that carries on its cover the endorsement "A wonderful novel" by the greatest living writer (available in English translation) in the Dutch language, Cees Nooteboom. I have to wonder if Mr. Nooteboom, whose work I deeply admire, read the entire book. The first half of The figure in the distance IS truly wonderful. Like Nooteboom in Roads to Santiago (and elsewhere), de Kat's character travels, semi-randomly, and observations and experiences while traveling evoke memories and ruminations about life, people, and most importantly, death. "At ease, he strolled towards the night that came drifting out of the houses. Careful observation shows that night does not fall, but emerges drifting from windows and doors. When the lights are switched on, the darkness slips outside." The figure in the distance is the father of the central character; his appearance in the distance is both literal and metaphoric, and one feels he will remain present, in the distance, long after he has passed from the world. Yet the book loses emotional and philosophical power when the main character goes to Hungary and becomes obsessed with a dancer he sees only from a distance. This section (about 30 pages) disappoints. In a longer novel a flawed thread might not do too much damage to the whole, but in a novella of 86 pages, it stands out. So, I agree with Mr. Nooteboom that this novel is wonderful in many parts, but, on the whole, merely very good. Recommended especially for fans of Cees Nooteboom.