The Character of Rain

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The Character of Rain
Author Amélie Nothomb
Original title Métaphysique des tubes
Translator Timothy Bent
Country France
Language French
Genre Novel
Publication date
Published in English
Media type print
Preceded by Fear and Trembling
Followed by The Enemy's Cosmetique

The Character of Rain (French: Métaphysique des tubes) is a 2000 short novel by the Belgian author Amélie Nothomb originally written in French. The English translated edition of the novel was published by Faber and Faber.


The novel, apparently autobiographical, describes the world as discovered and seen by a three-year-old child born in Japan to a Belgian family. It encompasses the themes of self-awareness, language acquisition, bilingualism, and developmental psychology.

The Japanese believe that until the age of three, children, whether Japanese or not, are gods, each one an okosama, or "lord child." On their third birthday, they fall from grace and join the rest of the human race. The narrator of the novel has spent the first two and a half years of her life in a nearly vegetative state until she is jolted out of her plant-like, tube-like state, and gains a peculiar but complete awareness of the world around her. Most fascinating to the narrator is the discovery of water in oceans, seas, pools, puddles, streams, ponds, and, rain - one meaning of the Japanese character for her name and a symbol of her amphibious life.[1][2][3]