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About the Author: Amélie Nothomb

Amélie Nothomb, born Fabienne Claire Nothomb, was born in Etterbeek, Belgium on 9 July 1966, to Belgian diplomats. Although Nothomb claims to have been born in Japan, she actually began living in Japan at the age of two until she was five years old. Subsequently, she lived in China, New York, Bangladesh, Burma, the United Kingdom (Coventry) and Laos.

She is from a distinguished Belgian political family; she is notably the grand-niece of Charles-Ferdinand Nothomb, a Belgian foreign minister (1980-1981). Her first novel, Hygiène de l'assassin, was published in 1992. Since then, she has published approximately one novel per year with a.o. Les Catilinaires (1995), Stupeur Et Tremblements (1999) and Métaphysique des tubes (2000).

She has been awarded numerous prizes, including the 1999 Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française; the Prix René-Fallet; and twice the Prix Alain-Fournier.

While in Japan, she attended a local school and learned Japanese. When she was five the family moved to China. "Quitter le Japon fut pour moi un arrachement" ("Leaving Japan was a wrenching separation for me") she writes in Fear and Trembling. Nothomb moved often, and did not live in Europe until she was 17, when she moved to Brussels. There, she reportedly felt as much a stranger as everywhere else. She studied philology at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. After some family tensions, she returned to Japan to work in a big Japanese company in Tokyo. Her experience of this time is told in Fear and Trembling. She has written a romanticized biography (Robert des noms propres) for the French female singer RoBERT in 2002 and during the period 2000-2002 she wrote the lyrics for nine tracks of the same artist. Many ideas inserted in her books come from the conversations she had with an Italian man, from late eighties and during the nineties. She used the French Minitel, while he used the Italian Videotel system, connected with the French one. They never met personally.

Source: Wikipedia


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Goodreads rating: 3.72

Mass Market Paperback, Published in Jun 2001 by Le Livre de Poche

ISBN10: 2253150711 | ISBN13: 9782253150718

Page count: 192

An alternate cover edition can be found here and here.

Au début des années 90, la narratrice est embauchée par Yumimoto, une puissante firme japonaise. Elle va découvrir à ses dépens l'implacable rigeur de l'autorité d'entreprise, en même temps qu les codes de conduite, incompréhensibles au profane, qui gouvernent la vie sociale au pays du Soleil levant.
D'erreurs en maladresses et en échecs, commence alors pour elle, comme dans un mauvais rêve, la descente inexorable dans les degrés de la hiérarchie, jusqu'au rang de surveillante des toilettes, celui de l'humiliation dernière. Une course absurde vers l'abîme - image de la vie -, où l'humour percutant d'Amélie Nothomb fait mouche à chaque ligne.
Entre le rire et l'angoisse, cette satire des nouveaux despotismes aux échos kafkaïens a conquis un immense public et valu à l'auteur d'Hygiène de l'assassin le Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française en 1999.

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