Amélie Nothomb

Fabienne-Claire Nothomb (French: [ nɔ.tɔ̃b]), better known by her pen name Amélie Nothomb,[1] 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, which earned her the title of Commander of the Order of the Crown and the title of Baroness bestowed upon her by King Philippe of Belgium. Her novel Fear and Trembling won the Grand Prize of the novel from the French Academy in 1999, and in 2015, she was elected member of the Royal Academy of French Language and Literature in Belgium.


Amélie Nothomb
BornFabienne-Claire Nothomb
(1966-07-09) 9 July 1966
Etterbeek, Belgium
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



Amélie Nothomb was born in Etterbeek, Belgium on 9 July 1966, to Belgian diplomat Patrick Nothomb,[2] She lived in Japan from 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.[2] She is from an old noble Belgian political family and is the grandniece of Charles-Ferdinand Nothomb, a Belgian foreign minister (1980–1981), and great granddaughter of writer and politician Pierre Nothomb. She has one brother and one sister.

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.[3]

Nothomb's first novel, Hygiène de l'assassin, was published in 1992.[4] Since then, she has published approximately one novel per year, including Les Catilinaires (1995), English title The Stranger Next Door, Fear and Trembling (1999) and Métaphysique des tubes (2000, published in English as The Character of Rain). She has been awarded numerous prizes, including the 1993 Prix Jacques-Chardonne, the Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française 1999, the Grand prix Jean Giono (2008), and since 2015 is a member of the Belgium Royal Academy of French language and literature.[5]

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 of the same artist.

A documentary — Amélie Nothomb: une vie entre deux eaux (a life between two waters) — co-written and directed by Laureline 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.[6]

By a Royal Decree of 8 July 2015, Nothomb was ennobled as a non-hereditary baroness.[7]



(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 [8] Éditions Albin Michel
2013 novel La nostalgie heureuse Éditions Albin Michel
2014 novel Pétronille Pétronille Europa Editions, paperback, 2015[9]
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[10][11][12][13]
2018 novel Les prénoms épicènes Éditions Albin Michel
2019 novel Soif Éditions Albin Michel

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


Film adaptations

Stage adaptations

  • 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

Eight of Amélie Nothomb's novels were adapted in the form of audio books, four first ones 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.[14]
  • Amaleena Damlé, Making A Body without Organs: Amélie Nothomb's An-Organic Flux of Immanence, ISBN 978-0-748668-21-2.[15]
  • (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, p. 54-67.
  • Mark D. Lee, Les identités d'Amélie Nothomb : de l'invention médiatique aux fantasmes originaires, éd. Rodopi, 2010.[16] · [17] · .[18]
  • (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.[19]


  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. Institute of Modern Languages
  3. Jasper Rees (23 July 2006). "A writer's life: Amélie Nothomb".
  4. The culture, Europe
  5. (fr)arllfb - members
  6. “Amélie Nothomb , une vie entre deux eaux”
  7. VIB Nederland - 22 July 2015
  8. Review at world literature
  9. "Pétronille". Europa Editions. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  10. Review , Washington post , Amélie Nothomb is a must-read author in France. ‘Strike Your Heart’ shows why by Michele Langevine Leiby, Sept 10. 2018
  11. Reviews at The Complete review
  12. Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2018
  13. Star Tribune, Malcolm Forbes : Review: 'Strike Your Heart,' by Amélie Nothomb, September 7, 2018
  15. Oxford Index, "Making A Body without Organs: Amélie Nothomb’s An-Organic Flux of Immanence", in "Becoming of the Body" - Edinburgh University Press
  16., essai: M. D. Lee, Les Identités d'Amélie Nothomb
  17., Catherine Rodgers: "Les Identités d'Amélie Nothomb: de l'invention médiatique aux fantasmes originaires" (review)
  18. " pdf" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  19. Google books, Scott M. Powers, "Evil in Contemporary French and Francophone Literature"
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