Book Keeping: A Readers’ Commmunity
Presented by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Sarah Crichton Books / FSG
While I was writing The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, I surrounded myself with images from the 17th century, especially paintings and engravings of the Dutch Golden Age. I wanted to write a novel that came out of the gaps and silences of art history.
When writing my play The Oldest Boy, which involves an American child recognized as a Tibetan tulku, I often called people in the Tibetan community for help and insight. I’ll never forget when I first wrote to an eminent Tibetan scholar, asking to have a conversation about reincarnation, and he wrote back immediately, “I am happy to talk with you, as your play might benefit other sentient beings.”
This is what we long for: the profound pleasure of being swept into vivid new worlds, worlds peopled by characters so intriguing and real that we can’t shake them, even long after the reading’s done. In The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, Dominic Smith deftly bridges the historical and the contemporary, tracking a collision course between a rare landscape by a female Dutch painter of the golden age, an inheritor of the work in 1950s Manhattan, and a celebrated art historian who painted a forgery of it in her youth. In this excerpt, we are introduced to the eponymous painter.