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Amélie Nothomb
Amélie Nothomb on 14 March 2009
Amélie Nothomb on 14 March 2009
Born Fabienne Claire Nothomb
Date and place disputed
(see article body)
Occupation Writer
Nationality Belgian
Education Université libre de Bruxelles
Notable works Loving Sabotage
Fear and Trembling
Tokyo Fiancée
The Life of Hunger
Notable awards BEL Kroonorde Commandeur BAR.svg 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 klɛʁ nɔtɔ̃b]), better known by her pen name Amélie Nothomb (French: [ameli nɔtɔ̃b]; born 13 August 1967), 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. 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. Subsequently, she lived in China, New York, Bangladesh, Burma, the United Kingdom (Coventry) and Laos. 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. She has one brother and one sister.

Armes de la famille Nothomb
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.

Nothomb's first novel, Hygiène de l'assassin, was published in 1992. 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.

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.

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

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



(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 Éditions Albin Michel
2013 novel La nostalgie heureuse Éditions Albin Michel
2014 novel Pétronille Pétronille Europa Editions, paperback, 2015
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
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 Éditions Albin Michel
2022 novel Le livre des sœurs Éditions Albin Michel

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


Film adaptations

  • 1999: Hygiène de l'assassin (Hygiene and the Assassin), French movie directed by François Ruggieri, with Jean Yanne (Prétextat Tach) and Barbara Schulz (Nina).
  • 2003: Stupeur et tremblements (Fear and Trembling), French movie directed by Alain Corneau with Sylvie Testud (Amélie) and Kaori Tsuji (Fubuki).
  • 2014: Tokyo Fiancée, Belgian movie directed by Stefan Liberski with Pauline Etienne (Amélie) and Taichi Inoue (Rinri)
  • 2021: A Perfect Enemy (adaptation of the novel, Cosmétique de l'ennemi), French movie directed by Kike Maíllo.

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.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Amélie Nothomb para niños

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