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Amélie Nothomb

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Amélie Nothomb
Amélie Nothomb on 14 March 2009
Amélie Nothomb on 14 March 2009
BornFabienne Claire Nothomb
(1966-07-09) 9 July 1966 (age 58) or (1967-08-13) 13 August 1967 (age 56)
Etterbeek, Belgium or Kōbe, Japan (disputed: see article body)
EducationUniversité libre de Bruxelles
Notable worksLoving Sabotage
Fear and Trembling
Tokyo Fiancée
The Life of Hunger
Notable awards Order of the Crown (Belgium), member of Académie royale de langue et de littérature françaises de Belgique, Prix littéraire de la vocation, Prix Jacques Chardonne, Prix de Flore, Prix Alain-Fournier, Grand prix Jean Giono, Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française

Baroness Fabienne Claire Nothomb (French pronunciation: [fabjɛn klɛːʁ nɔtɔ̃b]; born 13 August 1967[1]), better known by her pen name Amélie Nothomb (French: [ameli nɔtɔ̃b]),[2] is a Belgian Francophone novelist. Part of her childhood was spent in Asia.

A prolific author, since the publication of her first novel Hygiene and the Assassin in 1992, at the age of twenty-six, she has published a book a year. Her novels are among the top literary sales and have been translated into several languages. She is a Commander of the Order of the Crown and has had the title of Baroness bestowed upon her by King Philippe of Belgium. Her satirical novel about corporate life in Japan Fear and Trembling won the Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française in 1999, and in 2015 she was elected to the Royal Academy of French Language and Literature in Belgium.


Research shows Amélie Nothomb was born in Etterbeek, Brussels-Capital Region on 9 July 1966.[3] As an artist, she has consistently claimed metaphorically to have been born in Kobe, Japan in 1967 while records show her living there only from ages two to five.[3] Subsequently, she lived in China, New York, Bangladesh, Burma, the United Kingdom (Coventry) and Laos.[4] She stems from a Belgian noble family. Her father was the Belgian diplomat Patrick Nothomb, and she is the grandniece of Charles-Ferdinand Nothomb, a Belgian foreign minister (1980–1981), and great-granddaughter of writer and politician Pierre Nothomb.[4] She has one brother and one sister, Juliette Nothomb, who is a writer of children's books.

Her family's coat of arms

While in Japan, Nothomb attended a local school and learned Japanese. When she was five, the family moved to China. She remarked in Fear and Trembling that leaving Japan was "a wrenching separation for me". She studied philology at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Having finished her studies, Nothomb returned to Japan to work in a Japanese company in Tokyo. Her experience of this time is expressed in Fear and Trembling.[5]

Nothomb's first novel, Hygiène de l'assassin, was published in 1992.[6] Since then, she has published approximately one novel per year, including Les Catilinaires (1995), Fear and Trembling (1999) and Métaphysique des tubes (2000). She has been awarded numerous prizes, including the 1993 Prix Jacques-Chardonne, the 1999 Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française, the Grand prix Jean Giono (2008), and since 2015 has been a member of the Belgium Royal Academy of French language and literature.[7]

She wrote a romanticized biography (The Book of Proper Names) of French female singer Robert in 2002 and during the period 2000–2002 wrote the lyrics for nine tracks by the same artist.

A documentary — Amélie Nothomb: une vie entre deux eaux (a life between two waters) — co-written and directed by Laurelinne Amanieux and Luca Chiari, about Amélie's return to Japan and rediscovery of the beauty of the landscapes, the peaceful rites, the sadness of Fukushima, but especially, the meeting with her Japanese nursemaid, Nishio San was made in 2012.[8]

By a Royal Decree of 8 July 2015, Nothomb was ennobled as a non-hereditary baroness.[9][10]

Her novel Premier sang depicts the fictional memoirs of her father who had died in 2020 and written in the first person won the Prix Renaudot 2021.[11]



(in French)
Type Original title English title English publication details
1992 novel Hygiène de l'assassin Hygiene and the Assassin Europa Editions, hardback, 2010 ISBN 978-1-933372-77-8
1993 novel Le Sabotage amoureux Loving Sabotage W. W. Norton & Co, hardback, 2000, ISBN 0-8112-1459-1
Faber and Faber, paperback, 2003, ISBN 0-571-22663-9
1993 tale Légende un peu chinoise
(Longue Vue)
1994 play Les Combustibles Human Rites Oberon Books, paperback, 2005, ISBN 1-84002-539-5
1995 novel Les Catilinaires The Stranger Next Door Holt (Henry) & Co, hardback, 1996, ISBN 0-8050-4841-3
1996 novel Péplum
1996 14 pages short story Électre
1996 short story L'Existence de Dieu
(La Revue Générale)
1997 novel Attentat
1998 novel Mercure
1999 novel Stupeur et tremblements Fear and Trembling Faber and Faber, paperback, 2002, ISBN 0-571-22048-7
1999 39 pages short story Le Mystère par excellence
(Le Grand livre du mois)
2000 novel Métaphysique des tubes The Character of Rain Faber and Faber, paperback, 2003, ISBN 0-571-22049-5
2000 3 tales Brillant comme une casserole
(La Pierre d'Alun)
2001 novel Cosmétique de l'ennemi The Enemy's Cosmetique
2001 2 pages short story Aspirin
2001 64 pages short story Sans nom
2002 novel Robert des noms propres The Book of Proper Names Faber and Faber, paperback, 2004, ISBN 0-571-22344-3
2003 novel Antéchrista Antichrista Faber and Faber, paperback, 2004, ISBN 0-571-22483-0
2004 46 pages short story L'Entrée du Christ à Bruxelles
2004 novel Biographie de la faim The Life of Hunger Faber and Faber, hardback, 2006
2005 novel Acide sulfurique Sulphuric Acid Faber and Faber, hardback, 2007
2006 novel Journal d'Hirondelle
2007 novel Ni d'Eve, ni d'Adam Tokyo Fiancée Europa Editions, hardback, 2008
2007 short story in 9 episodes Les Champignons de Paris (Charlie Hebdo)
2008 novel Le Fait du prince The Prince's Act Éditions Albin Michel
2009 novel Le Voyage d'Hiver The Winter Journey Éditions Albin Michel
2010 novel Une forme de vie Life Form Europa Editions, hardback
2011 novel Tuer le père Éditions Albin Michel
2012 novel Barbe bleue [12] Éditions Albin Michel
2013 novel La nostalgie heureuse Éditions Albin Michel
2014 novel Pétronille Pétronille Europa Editions, paperback, 2015[13]
2015 novel Le Crime du comte Neville Éditions Albin Michel
2016 novel Riquet à la houppe Éditions Albin Michel
2017 novel Frappe-toi le cœur Strike your Heart Éditions Albin Michel, Europa Editions ISBN 978-1609454852[14][15][16][17]
2018 novel Les prénoms épicènes Éditions Albin Michel
2019 novel Soif Thirst Europa Editions, ISBN 978-1-60945-660-3
2020 novel Les aérostats Éditions Albin Michel, ISBN 978-2-226-45408-9
2021 novel Premier sang First Blood Europa Editions
2022 novel Le livre des sœurs Éditions Albin Michel
2023 novel Psychopompe Éditions Albin Michel, ISBN 978-2-226-48561-8

Unless otherwise stated, all works were originally published in French by Éditions Albin Michel.


Film adaptations[edit]

Stage adaptations[edit]

  • Le sabotage amoureux (English: Loving sabotage), Theater Le Ranelagh, Paris, 1999

With Valérie Mairesse, Pétronille de Saint-Rapt, Vanessa Jarry Direction: Annabelle Milot

  • Le sabotage amoureux (Loving Sabotage), Theater Daniel-Sorano, Vincennes, 2003–2005

With Pauline Foschia, Jeanne Gougeau, Laurence Vielle Adaptation et direction: Brigitte Bailleux, Laurence Vielle

  • Cosmétique de l'ennemi (The Enemy's Cosmetique), "La Compagnie des Sept Lieux", Suisse, 2003–2008

With John Durand and Olivier Renault Adaptation and direction: Emmanuel Samatani and Jean-Daniel Uldry

  • Les combustibles (Human Rites), Theater Daniel-Sorano, Vincennes, March – April 2008

With Michel Boy, Julie Turin, Grégory Gerrebo Direction: Stéphane Cottin

  • Métaphysique des tubes (The Character of Rain), 2007–2009

With Cécile Schletzer and Claire Rieussec Direction: Claire Rieussec

  • Hygiène de l'assassin (Hygiene and the Assassin), Theater of Namur and Theater "le Public", Bruxelles, September – October 2008

With Daniel Hanssens, Nathalie Cornet, Valérie Marchand and Vincent Lécuyer Direction: Pierre Santini

  • Biographie de la Faim (The Life of Hunger), Theater of "La Place des Martyrs", Bruxelles, April – May 2009

With Nathalie Cornet, Michel Hinderyckx, Jessica Gazon, Stéphanie Blanchoud... Adaptation and direction: Christine Delmotte

  • Les Combustibles (Human Rites), Theater of Nesle, Paris, 16 September 2010 – 2 October 2010

With Philippe Doré, Freddy Zimmer, Florine Moreau Direction: Hubert Vinzani

  • Stupeur et Tremblements (Fear and Trembling), Theater "Le Petit Hébértot", Paris, 18 March 2011 – 22 May 2011

With Layla Metssitane Adaptation and direction: Layla Metssitane

Audio books[edit]

Eight of Amélie Nothomb's novels were adapted in the form of audio books, the first four were published by the editions "VDB", the others by "Audiolib" :

  • Robert des noms propres (=The Book of Proper Names): Amélie Nothomb (author) and Véronique Groux de Miéri (narrator), La Roque-sur-Pernes, "Éditions VDB", 1 March 2003 (ISBN 978-2-84694-068-9) (Note BNF (FRENCH NATIONAL LIBRARY) no FRBNF39186856q).

Support: 3 audio CD (lasted: 3:15 am min, complete text), ref. V.D.B. 008.

  • Antéchrista (=Antichrista): Amélie Nothomb (author) and Véronique Groux de Miéri (narrator), La Roque-sur-Pernes, "Éditions VDB", 1 March 2004 (ISBN 978-2-84694-281-2) (Note BNF (FRENCH NATIONAL LIBRARY) no FRBNF412025642).

Support: 3 audio CD (lasted: 2:52 am min, complete text), ref. V.D.B. 033. Musical illustration: Thierry Duhamel.

  • Biographie de la faim (=The life of hunger): Amélie Nothomb (author) and Véronique Groux de Miéri (narrator), La Roque-sur-Pernes, "Éditions VDB", 1 March 2005 (ISBN 978-2-84694-281-2) (Note BNF (FRENCH NATIONAL LIBRARY) no FRBNF40227909h).

Support: 4 audio CD (lasted: 4:17 am min, complete text), ref. V.D.B. 074. Musical illustration: Thierry Duhamel.

  • Acide sulfurique (=Sulphuric acid): Amélie Nothomb (author) and Véronique Groux de Miéri (narrator), La Roque-sur-Pernes, "Éditions VDB", 1 March 2006 (ISBN 978-2-84694-403-8) (Note BNF (FRENCH NATIONAL LIBRARY) no FRBNF40227903f).

Support: 3 audio CD (lasted: 5:39 am min, complete text), ref. V.D.B. 104. Musical illustration: Thierry Duhamel.

  • Ni d'Eve, ni d'Adam (=Tokyo Fiancée): Amélie Nothomb (author) and Sylvie Testud (narrator), Paris, "Audiolib", 13 February 2008 (ISBN 978-2-35641-012-2) (Note BNF (FRENCH NATIONAL LIBRARY) no FRBNF412025642).

Support: 1 audio CD (lasted: 3:50 am min, complete text), ref. Audiolib 25 0012 02.

  • Le fait du prince (=The prince's act): Amélie Nothomb (author) and Patrick Waleffe (narrator), Paris, "Audiolib", 21 January 2009 (ISBN 978-2-356-41048-1) (Note BNF (FRENCH NATIONAL LIBRARY) no FRBNF414068348).

Support: 1 audio CD (lasted: 3:00 am min, complete text), ref. Audiolib 25 0049 4.

  • Le voyage d'hiver (=The winter journey): Amélie Nothomb (author) and Thibault de Montalembert (narrator), Paris, "Audiolib", 9 September 2009 (ISBN 978-2-35641-093-1) (Note BNF (FRENCH NATIONAL LIBRARY) no FRBNF42044512x).

Support: 2 audio CD (lasted: 1:54 am min, complete text), ref. Audiolib 25 0129 4.

  • Une forme de vie (=A form of life): Amélie Nothomb (author) and Frédéric Meaux (narrator), Paris, "Audiolib", 13 October 2010 (ISBN 978-2-356-41245-4) (Note BNF (FRENCH NATIONAL LIBRARY) no FRBNF42285807k).

Support: 1 audio CD (lasted: 2:42 am min, complete text), ref. Audiolib 25 281 3.


  • Susan Bainbrigge and Jeanette Den Toonder, Amélie Nothomb, Authorship, Identity and Narrative Practice, Peter Lang, 2003. ISBN 0-8204-6182-2
  • (fr) Frédérique Chevillot, Amélie Nothomb : L'Invitation à la lecture. Women in French Studies, 2012, vol. 2012, no 1, p. 195-212.
  • Mary Jane Cowles, Close Encounters of the Abject Kind: The Intercultural Female Body in Amélie Nothomb's Japan.[18]
  • Amaleena Damlé, Making A Body without Organs: Amélie Nothomb's An-Organic Flux of Immanence, ISBN 978-0-748668-21-2.[19]
  • (fr) Yolande Helm, Amélie Nothomb : une écriture alimentée à la source de l'orphisme. Religiologiques, Orphée et Eurydice : mythes en mutation, 1997, vol. 15, p. 151-163.
  • Anna Kemp, The Child as Artist in Amélie Nothomb's Robert des noms propres. French studies, 2012, vol. 66, no 1, pp. 54–67.
  • Mark D. Lee, Les identités d'Amélie Nothomb : de l'invention médiatique aux fantasmes originaires, éd. Rodopi, 2010.[20][21][22]
  • (fr) Andrea Oberhuber, Réécrire à l'ère du soupçon insidieux : Amélie Nothomb et le récit postmoderne. Études françaises, 2004, vol. 40, no 1, p. 111-128.
  • Scott M Powers, Evil in Contemporary French and Francophone Literature, 2014.[23]


  1. ^ État présent de la noblesse belge, éditions of 1979, 1995 and 2010. Her birth is announced in n° 87, aout 1967, p. 340 of the Bulletin de l'association de la noblesse du royaume de Belgique, publication trimestrielle : Annonces de naissance : "Baron et Baronne Patrick Nothomb : Fabienne, 13 août 1967".
  2. ^ "Amélie Nothomb soutient les librairies indépendantes sur "l'Obs"". L'Obs. 7 November 2020. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  3. ^ a b Ireland, Benjamin Hiramatsu (May 2012). "Amélie Nothomb's Distorted Truths: Birth, Identity, and Stupeur et tremblements". New Zealand Journal of French Studies. 33 (1): 135–156.
  4. ^ a b "Institute of Modern Languages". Archived from the original on 28 March 2018. Retrieved 22 September 2021.
  5. ^ Jasper Rees (23 July 2006). "A writer's life: Amélie Nothomb". Telegraph.co.uk.
  6. ^ Vieira, Teresa Lopes (4 September 2015). "How Amélie Nothomb Became Belgium's Most Outlandish Writer". theculturetrip.com.
  7. ^ "Amélie Nothomb : Bio-blibliographie". www.arllfb.be.
  8. ^ "Amélie Nothomb, une vie entre deux eaux". www.lucachiari.com.
  9. ^ (fr)ejustice.just.fgov.be, July 17 - 2015, ejustice.just.fgov.be
  10. ^ (fr)Voici les nouveaux nobles, Le Soir, July 17- 2015
  11. ^ "Le prix Renaudot récompense Amélie Nothomb pour " Premier sang "". ouest-france.fr. 3 November 2021. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  12. ^ "Barbe bleue by Amélie Nothomb". World Literature Today. 17 December 2012.
  13. ^ "Pétronille". Europa Editions. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  14. ^ Review , Washington post , Amélie Nothomb is a must-read author in France. ‘Strike Your Heart’ shows why by Michele Langevine Leiby, Sept 10. 2018
  15. ^ "Strike Your Heart - Amélie Nothomb". www.complete-review.com.
  16. ^ "STRIKE YOUR HEART | Kirkus Reviews" – via www.kirkusreviews.com.
  17. ^ Tribune, MALCOLM FORBES Special to the Star. "Review: 'Strike Your Heart,' by Amélie Nothomb". Star Tribune.
  18. ^ Cowles, Mary Jane (5 January 2011). "Close Encounters of the Abject Kind: The Intercultural Female Body in Amélie Nothomb's Japan". Women in French Studies. 19 (1): 94–107. doi:10.1353/wfs.2011.0002. S2CID 143733730 – via Project MUSE.
  19. ^ Oxford Index, "Making A Body without Organs: Amélie Nothomb's An-Organic Flux of Immanence", in "Becoming of the Body" - Edinburgh University Press
  20. ^ Vernet, Matthieu. "M. D. Lee, Les Identités d'Amélie Nothomb". www.fabula.org.
  21. ^ Rodgers, Catherine (5 January 2011). "Les Identités d'Amélie Nothomb: de l'invention médiatique aux fantasmes originaires (review)". French Studies: A Quarterly Review. 65 (3): 409–410. doi:10.1093/fs/knr087 – via Project MUSE.
  22. ^ "clo-adam.be pdf" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  23. ^ Powers, Scott M. (12 October 2010). Evil in Contemporary French and Francophone Literature. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 9781443826167 – via Google Books.

External links[edit]