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Fear and Trembling

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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  8,096 ratings  ·  532 reviews
According to ancient Japanese protocol, foreigners deigning to approach the emperor did so only with fear and trembling. Terror and self-abasement conveyed respect. Amélie, our well-intentioned and eager young Western heroine, goes to Japan to spend a year working at the Yumimoto Corporation. Returning to the land where she was born is the fulfillment of a dream for Amélie ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published November 1st 2004 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1999)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Rowena
*3.5 stars*


I must say, I was really surprised by this book. I work for a Japanese company here in Vancouver and I have noticed that my Japanese co-workers have to adhere to different standards and rules from the rest of us (we don’t question it, what can you do?). It’s been interesting working there because half of my co-workers are Japanese, the other half aren’t. We’ve had to adapt to each other’s cultures and I think we do so quite well. It does feel like we’re split into two camps and I ha
...more
Manny
Apr 06, 2009 Manny rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Manny by: Yukie Nakao
My Japanese friend Yukie said I had to read this if I wanted to understand how a Japanese job worked. And indeed I do feel I have a great deal more insight into it!

Rule number 1: NEVER take initiative for anything you're not supposed to take initiative for. The heroine finds this out the hard way. She's just started working for this Japanese company. She speaks fluent Japanese, French and English, so of course, like any Westerner, she's looking for an opportunity to impress her new bosses. A col
...more
Kasia
My Japanese friend, 30-ish, former competitive cross-country skier*, now a sushi-man working in Poland, moved all the way from the other side of the world to Warsaw, just to make sushi for local yuppies. Can you imagine? In order to escape Tokio's corporate nightmare, he swapped continents, traded cultures, left his family behind and moved to this obscure little country called Poland. I mean I like it here, but it's not the most foreigner friendly place. Especially not if you are a slender Japan ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
If this were published during the second world war, Amelie Nothomb would have been kidnapped and executed by the Japanese.

For reasons I didn't care to research and find out Nothomb, although Belgian by nationality and currently living in Paris, was born in Kobe, Japan. This book is based on her true experiences as a lowly employee in a big Japanese company for one whole year.

She had a layer of bosses, all Japanese. Her immediate superior, Miss Mori, was beautiful but petty, malicious, neurotic a
...more
James
I had mixed expectations when approaching Belgium's enfant terrible, Amélie Nothomb having heard plenty of praise and criticism in equal measure. So it was with fear and trembling I approached Nothomb's Prix du roman de l'Académie française winning novel Fear and Trembling, aware of the author's reputation as a quirky, hip and contemporary writer. Little did I know that the novel, itself highly autobiographical, charting the struggles of a Belgian worker, Amélie, within the various rigidities of ...more
Synesthésia
The only problem with criticising S&T is the question of where to start? Perhaps with the author herself. It takes a certain kind of individual to be so ludicrously self-absorbed that they put themselves on the cover of near every book that they publish, proceeding to write a book about themselves on a near yearly basis. One can understand the reasoning behind this, if, perhaps, the author were someone improbably interesting. But alas no; she is a self-promoting, mousy, emotional masochist f ...more
Elida Karaivanova
Двоумях се колко звезди да дам - реших накрая да са 5 поради изцяло лични причини, въпреки че може би книгата за някой, незаинтересован от Изтока, не би била интересна.

Написана с много чувство за хумор, не оставя съмнение, че именно това качество на героинята ѝ е помогнало да мине през всичко описано, дори част от него да е измислица. Въпреки че лично според мен сблъсъкът на двете култури е дори по-трагичен и наистина до известна степен комичен.

Несъмнено ще прочета и други нейни произведения, н
...more
Emir Never
Barely five pages deep into Amélie Nothomb’s Fear and Trembling: A Novel (Paperback) and I had to laugh.

I can’t remember having done this before with other novels I’ve read, partly because I dig ‘lonely’ books. The laughing and chuckling and smiling, punctuated with disbelieving head movements, weren't limited to the first few pages—Nothomb’s humor has infected the pages throughout the book and for once I felt something akin to love for the protagonist and the perpetrator of this comic masterpie
...more
Elisa
Non mi restava altro che incollare la fronte al vetro e gettarmi dalla finestra. Sono la sola persona al mondo alla quale sia capitato un simile miracolo: è la defenestrazione che mi ha cambiato la vita. Brandelli del mio corpo devono essere ancora oggi sparsi per tutta la città.

Finché esisteranno finestre, l'essere umano più umile della terra avrà la sua libertà.


Balzac descriveva la pensione Vauquer come una piccola rappresentazione dell'intera società parigina. Amélie Nothomb cambia i termini
...more
Simon
Hahahaha - aren't Japanese people strange and weird and their culture is so crazy!!!

I didn't enjoy this book. I take issue with anyone portraying Japan as some out-there foreign country. Having spent a short period of my life living in Japan (a fraction longer than Nothomb did in the book) and I'm the first to acknowledge that it's very different but books like this just add to the misconception that it's some sort of society gone mad. It seems to be one of the last countries where it is accepta
...more
Lady K
J’ai vraiment adoré. Je l’ai dévoré en une journée (bon quand on regarde le nombre de page, ce n’est pas un exploit, mais c’est pour dire que je ne l’ai pas lâché !). C’est le premier roman de cette auteure que je lis, et je ne suis vraiment pas déçue ! Pour vous dire, je crois que je n’ai pas de point négatif à dire. Sauf que c’est court et écrit vraiment gros !

J’ai beaucoup aimé l’humour omniprésent dans ce livre. Amélie Nothomb n’arrête pas, et elle fait mouche à chaque ligne ! Elle nous perm
...more
William
There is one crucial reproach which must be made to this book, and it is not a literary one. There is a Japan which has been invented in the West, which probably has a distant relation to the real Japan, which ontologically speaking, is not the same thing. This western (or foreign) view of Japan is made of a certain number of clichés, and one of the most pregnant clusters of clichés is the one related to the workplace.

In the early 1990s, Japan was at the height of the bubble, and their corporat
...more
Salam Ch
finally experienced the Nothomb sensation!!! :-)
till the half of the book it was ordinary nothing outstanding the big fat serpent started hissing and the legendary Nothomb was about to fall from my reading Eden suddenly with a spectacular mind blowing madness scene humbly she invited me to the great Nothombic realm of wisdom and unique philosophy yet so simple and funny, effortlessly connected with her till the end of book still struggling to disconnect!!
so thankful to my friends Hoda and Isabel
...more
Mickeynana
Aug 30, 2009 Mickeynana added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Marlene
Recommended to Mickeynana by: Anette
One of my book club selections, this very small book ended up creating a solid two hours of discussion, thanks in large part to the book club member who chose it. Rather than discuss obvious questions....she pulled about a dozen "themes" from the book, like LOVE, DUTY, HONOR, EGO, etc and used those as a jumping off point for relating our experiences. Very compelling and very entertaining.
Liliana
Mientras leía, me preguntaba ¿cómo es que una historia sobre "acoso laboral" puede resultar tan interesante? La historia se sitúa en la empresa Yumimoto, entre aburridas oficinas y actividades cotidianas tediosas, donde Amelie Nothomb se supone trabajo durante un año antes de ponerse a escribir. Pienso en este historia como una especie de vía crucis, en donde la protagonista se sacrifica y aguanta para demostrar su "valor" ante alguien que no le importa. Aunque las situaciones que vive son extre ...more
Ginny_1807
La giovane Amélie fa il suo ingresso nel mondo del lavoro alle dipendenze di una prestigiosissima azienda giapponese, ma ben presto vede infrangersi le sue ingenue aspettative e speranze di affermazione contro un muro di incomprensioni, rivalità, umiliazioni e soprusi.
Il racconto è certamente romanzato e, per così dire, esasperato dal tono ironico e irriverente che caratterizza questa scrittrice, tuttavia in certe situazioni può riconoscersi chiunque al suo primo impiego abbia dovuto confrontar
...more
Francesco Galdieri
Mi sono innamorato di questa donna. Ha uno stile asciutto: periodi brevi, brevissimi come piace a me. Ed ha una ironia cos� pungente che non associereste mai ad una donna. Non so perch�, ma almeno io non ho mai conosciuto donne con un'ironia, figuriamoci con un'ironia cos� crudele. Non posso descriverlo, il suo stile: leggetela assolutamente, � un genio. Per darvi una vaga idea delle sue brevissime frasi ad effetto, mi ricorda il migliore Stephen King, come quando (lui) scrive "la parte migliore ...more
Trin
My reaction to this book probably says more about me than it does about the book itself. While I at times found Nothomb’s prose witty and the story in general to be consistently fast-paced and breezily written, the events it depicts frustrated me beyond belief. This autobiographical novel is about the horrible abuse Amélie suffers at a Japanese company where she’s originally hired as a translator and eventually demoted to bathroom attendant. You know how some people have an embarrassment squick, ...more
Hemdan Ahmed
لا ادري اذا كانت سيرة ذاتية ام رواية في صورة سيرة ذاتية ،و اذا كانت ادبا يابانيا ام انها ادب غربي عن حياة يابانية ؛؛
نقد لاذع و شديد و فكاهي في احيان للحياة اليابانية و من خلال وصفي لتواجد موظفة غربية يابانية داخل احدى الشركات اليابانية العملاقة ،قد يبدو هذا النقد مبالغا فيه بالنسبة لنا حيث تمثل اليابان و اليابانيين بالنسبة لنا نموذجا مثاليا نتمنى ان نصبح نصفه يوما ما ،و لكن في السنوات الماضية حضرت ندوة لاحد اساتذة الجامعات المصرية و الذي يعمل في اليابان منذ اكثر من خمس سنوات مضت ،تحدث فيها عن حي
...more
Fuad Takrouri
استسلام للهستيريا مع اميلي...
((تشهد حياة كل إنسان يومها الذي تتعرض فيه لصدمة نفسية أولية تقسم تلك الحياة إلى ما قبل الصدمة وما بعدها،وتكون حتى مجرد ذكرى خاطفة لها لتسمِّر الإنسان في رعب لا يعقله،رعب حيواني لا شفاء منه))
أسلوب جميل ممتع تخترق فيه ايملي المجتمع الصارم المبني على النظام الكامل الدقة في العمل،وبزاوية أوروبية تصف ذلك السلوك،الذي يُنفذ في المؤسسات اليابانية..والتي تجد أن الضحك أسلوب مناسب أمام ذلك الضغط الهائل الذي تواجهه في العمل.
تلك هي الرواية
في الوصايا التي تملى على المرأة اليابان
...more
Wael Mahmoud
أجمل ما في الرواية هو إسمها والذي يشير إلى الحالة التي يجب ان يكون المتحدث للإمبراطور عليها في حضرته وذلك وفقاً للبروتوكولات الإمبراطورية اليابانية.

الرواية بسيطة للغاية ولكنها ممتعة وبعض فقراتها ممتاز. نوتومب روائية مسلية ولكن لم تصل في رأيي لمستوى الكتاب الروائين المبدعين وذلك بعد قراءة روايتين لها.
رباب كساب
ذهول ورعدة
اسم تعجبته لكني ما إن وصلت لتلك النقطة التي اختارته الكاتبة ليكون اسما لروايتها الذاتية حييتها في سري
آميلي نوتومب كاتبة أقل ما توصف بأنها رائعة غزيرة الثقافة من كثير استشهادات ووصف خاص بأبطال روايات أو قصائد أرهقت المترجم ليبين مقصدها في الحواشي الخاصة بالرواية
لديها إيقاع سريع تتحكم في بطئه وقتما تريد وحسبما يقتضي منها الأمر لتصل بك لإحساس ضئيل بالملل
تدخلك عالم اليابان من أبشع صوره وهو المجتمع الذي نظنه كما كتبت المحظوظ لتقول لك أفق هم ليسوا كذلك وارتفاع معدلات الانتحار فيه لأنهم أناس
...more
Laura
Just arrived from France through BM.

This is the story of a Belgian interpreter who works in a big Japanese company in Kyoto.



With plenty of humor and irony, the author describes how the hierarchy scheme is able to destroy the character of an Occidental foreign young woman who struggles to be accepted and recognize by her work.



Page 20:


Le cerveau nippon est proclament capable de se forcer a oublier une langue. Le cerveau occidental n'en a pas les moyens.



Page 117:


Elle marcha vers moi, avec Hiroshim

...more
Carlos Bennett
"Estupor y temblores" es la historia (aparentemente biográfica?) de Amelie Nothomb durante su año trabajando en una empresa japonesa en Tokio. Habiendo vivido los primeros 5 años de su vida en japón, a los 22 años la joven belga intenta trabajar como traductora; empieza en lo más bajo de la estricta escala jerárquica nipona pero debido a su bien intencionada incompetencia se las arregla para ir cayendo progresivamente más abajo (aún) en la jerarquía. Sus infortunios son contados en primera perso ...more
Lavinia
Amélie Nothomb was always way too popular for me to even think of trying one of her books. I might be snobbish or I might just be ignorant - in the end it's all about reading. If it hadn't been for J.'s recommendation (thank goodness for the chosen ones - my students of Romanian - with whom I can exchange opinions on books, films and other stuff), I would have never tried it.

Perfect for one afternoon, a weekend - if you're a slow reader or even a short holiday - if you take reading as sleeping
...more
د.حنان فاروق
علاقة عجيبة بين رئيسة ومرؤوسة في شركة لبلد يعرف بأنه بلد العمل وتقديس الوقت والمواهب..صراع بين الشرق والغرب يظهر فيه صاحب الأرض كالعادة عنصريته المغرورة ويشاركه الضيف عنصرية ساخرة من نوع خاص..أعجبني هذا النوع من القتال أو فلنقل(الحب) فهما كثيراً يتشابهان في الجنون..تعجبت كثيراً من قوة الكاتبة ووتحملها لكل شيء في سبيل ألا تفشل رغم اعترافها بالفشل أحياناً مبتسمة لتريح من يحطمونها عمداً ومع سبق الإصرار..عالم خاص جداً من الأهمية بمكان أن ندخله ..لكني فقط أريد أن ألفت النظر إلى أن رأي الكاتبة الخاص ف ...more
Vera
A small, funny book about the experience of a young Belgian woman in one of the biggest Japanese companies in Tokyo. I was aware that subservience is a norm in the Japanese business world but having to clean toilets as a punishment for months and having to eat chocolate after one repeatedly refused seems too much for me. Anyway, Amelie Nothomb managed to tell her story with a sense of humour that kept my attention until I finished the book in one sitting.
Yurasawa
Waw, je suis très content d'avoir lu ce livre.

cela nécessite 2 nuits pour finir cette perle d'amélie-san.

j'ai bien aimé le style ironique d'amélie ainsi que son sang froid et son côté comique et positive de voir les choses.

ce livre résume l'expérience d'amélie nothomb lors de son retour au japon pour travailler dans une grande société.

la nature de son travail dépend de son supérieur. je vais pas expliquer pour ne pas spoiler le roman.

si vous voulez connaître comment ça se déroule dans une sociét
...more
Arthur Mesropian
It was a very nice and capturing read. I love French humor! Satire and descriptions are compelling. I found many times giggling at confrontation of the West vs East. To put it short, this is a highly recommended read with easy going plot and penetrating insight.
machinaheart
Super fast read and I liked it.
Nothomb uses hyperbole and irony like throwing knives and at time the truly hit their mark making me extremely uncomfortable. I could relate a lot of her experiences, though at times rather exaggeratedly, quite a bit. And it is as ridiculous as it is painful at times. I think for a person not too knowledgeable about Japanese culture this might sound too crass and it is, but I also think that crassness is needed to understand the sheer disbelief one might feel confr
...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Problem with Czech edition of book 5 34 Nov 21, 2013 05:48AM  
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Amélie Nothomb was born in Kobe, Japan to Belgian diplomats. She lived there until she was five years old, and then subsequently lived in China, New York, Bangladesh, Burma, a stint in 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, wa
...more
More about Amélie Nothomb...
Hygiène de l'assassin Métaphysique des tubes Cosmétique de l'ennemi Ni d'Ève ni d'Adam Antichrista

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“Honor sometimes means doing something very unwise. Behaving like an idiot is better than dishonor. To this day I blush for having chosen sensible restraint over common decency.” 9 likes
“I don’t understand. She’s always been so friendly toward me.”

“Yes, so long as your work consisted of updating calendars and photocopying golf club bylaws.”

“But there was no danger of my taking her place!”

“She was never afraid of that.”

“Then why denounce me? Why would it upset her if I went to work for you?”

“Miss Mori struggled for years to get the job she has now. She probably found it unbearable for you to get that sort of promotion after being with the company only ten weeks.”

“I can’t believe it. That’s just so … mean.”

“All I can say is that she suffered greatly during the first few years she was here.”

“So she wants me to suffer the same fate? It’s too pathetic. I must talk to her.”

“Do you really think that’s a good idea?”

“Of course. How else are we going to work things out if we don’t talk?”

“You just talked to Mister Omochi. Does it strike you that things have been worked out?”
7 likes
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