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The Bathroom

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  1,050 ratings  ·  109 reviews
First published in France in 1985, The Bathroom was Jean-Philippe Toussaint's debut novel, and it heralded a new generation of innovative French literature. In this playful and perplexing book, we meet a young Parisian researcher who lives inside his bathroom. As he sits in his tub meditating on existence (and refusing to tell us his name), the people around him—his girlfr ...more
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published October 1st 1991 by Marion Boyars Publishers (first published 1985)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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 ·  1,050 ratings  ·  109 reviews

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Adam Dalva
Oct 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Terrific, strange little book - I'm a fan of Toussaint, particularly his Marie Tetralogy. This is his debut, so it's not quite refined in terms of formula (all his late books have micro arcs toward, always, three minor climaxes) and there is a bit of unnecessary showiness (pythagorean chapter sequencing), but the fun philosophizing and detached tone is very him .You'll fly through it.
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: low-calorie
When a book is called The Bathroom and its back cover blurb suggests that it's about 'a young Parisian researcher who lives inside his bathroom,' I think I'm right in feeling cheated and betrayed when the protagonist leaves the bathroom on page six, never to return. Well, I'm sure he returns for practical visits, of course, but he no longer domiciles there.

I was actually looking forward to a short novel about living in a bathroom for the simple reason that the idea sort of appeals to me. Imagin
Aug 29, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned, 2015
A thought I must convey to the masses.

I have an affliction when it comes to towels. Hand towels, bathroom towels, napkins, paper towels, shop towels. What distinguishes a hand towel from a bathroom towel from any of the other? Is it the size? What if you're a small person and a bathroom towel is too big? What if you're a large person and only have a handful of hand towels? Do they become bathroom towels then? Dabbing large areas of drops off your skin, going through a few at a time, in those nic
Oct 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having realized that he prefers reading in the tub, the protagonist of Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s The Bathroom decides to take up residence there, because, after all, “the bathroom was where I felt best.” This is a typical setup for the Belgian author of eight short but deliciously enigmatic novels: Toussaint puts his protagonist in an absurd position and describes it as if there’s nothing absurd about it at all. The author himself has characterized his work as being focused on the “not-interesti ...more
Aug 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Immobility is not absence of movement but absence of any prospect of movement."

The above observation lies three-quarters of the way through The Bathroom, just before the quasi-authorial ruminations break forth, escaping the previous three room stage design. A change of locale occurs. Not to disclose much, but it is a change of nation as well. The insular goes on the lam. In fact, the section abroad distills the almost static gestation of the earlier salvos. The novel's only act of violence (exc
Oct 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recently, more and more, I have been vouching for slowness. Slowness in movement, slowness in thought; slowness as a form of rebellion. But what I call slow isn't really that slow; it's a return to human speed. The speed of our feet, not our wheels.

Jean-Philippe Toussaint in this novella wants to go beyond that. Or perhaps you could say he wants something entirely different. For isn't immobility qualitatively different from movement, even slow movement? Toussaint clearly distinguishes between th
Jul 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone who loves to ponder over life and death
There is a 27-year-old man who loves to stay in the bathtub and ponder over life for the whole afternoon every day. He does not have a mental problem, yet, he is a mere reflection of our anxiety in this 21st-century modern bustling world. He represents the helpless and desperate attitude towards life yet no one can resist such desperation.

He is not a loser, instead, he is somehow a thinker or a philosopher. One day, he took a book someone left in the cafe in Venice. The book was the English vers
spoiler alert: he leaves the bathroom.

Hey, it's French, it's experimental, it's funny and it had post-modern, bijou chapterettes - it's my thing man.
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is a slim novel that's also slight. Third-rate Beckett, second-rate Barthelme, full of "postmodern" playfulness with nothing at stake. The worst kind of "experimentalism". Toussaint is a funny writer, and I've got time for his later work, but his early novels just aren't very good.
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Lovely. I only wish I had this version, where "bathroom" is hyphenated.

This was written three years after (even) I was born, yet still retains the tinge of the somewhat enterprising/somewhat upcoming/somewhat avant garde.

Now to go live in the bathtub for a bit.
Moral: Don't bug a guy when he's playing darts.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
he leave the bathroom tho
Guttersnipe Das
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
On the back cover, a blurb from French magazine /Le Point/ raves, “An exception, a marvel: the budding of an incomparable, a perfect writer.” Pardon? Book reviewers, like myself, are known to be a highly excitable bunch. We may safely assume that espresso was involved in the writing of this review, though amphetamines cannot be ruled out. My personal theory is that when this book appeared, in 1985, after the very, very strenuous joys of the noveau roman and the French experimental fiction that f ...more
Justin Evans
Jan 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Apparently this is important for literary historical reasons, but then, lots of solid but not great books are. What's good here can be found more fully in Toussaint's later work, and, mercifully, what's bad here (numbered paragraphs for no reason, for instance, as well as silly juvenile rebellions) is not. Great cover, though.
Donia Al-Issa
With my limited understanding of french, here is a review. This is a book about a man who decides to live in his bathroom contemplating life, death and his toenails, and the colour of the bathroom wall. His girlfriend and family seem unbothered by it.
Owen Prum
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
erika purrington
Mar 28, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
most tiresome for what's 100 pages or so
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
"I ought to take some risk, I said, looking down and stroking the enamel of the bathtub, the risk of compromising the quietude of my abstract life for ... I did not finish my sentence."
Colin Cox
This is the second Toussaint novel I've read in the last few weeks, and I am equally charmed and befuddled by him. The Bathroom is a short, meandering book that attempts to understand and conceptualize the relationship between mobility and immobility. These terms are used loosely and don't necessarily signify a single, particular idea (for example, Toussaint isn't specifically writing about social mobility). By this unnamed narrator's estimation, mobility is the inevitable trek toward immobility ...more
Fernanda Amis
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Awesome counter-culture novel
Stephen Durrant
May 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
This small Toussaint novel engages the reader for reasons hard to explain. The narrator is something of a loser who sets forth a whole series of strange and sometimes quite humorous events in a flat, direct style. Moreover, an exact repetition of several lines (p. 16 & 131 in this edition), plus an entirely unbelievable event towards the end of the novel, in which the narrator embeds a dart in his girlfriend's forehead, raises the likelihood that the entire central section of the novel is really ...more
Jun 28, 2009 rated it liked it
I bought this book expecting something funny. I, instead, found a story broken into numbered paragraphs about a gloomy Austrian who spends most of the book sitting around a hotel in Venice. The time is unclear, the exact reasons he heads to Italy are unclear and the exact nature of the relationship the narrator shares with Edmondsson (his wife) is also unclear. The story seems to be about peaceful meditation, albeit masquerading as a story about a depressive researcher searching for something (h ...more
Dec 20, 2008 added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
Toussaint's getting a lot of attention lately because Dalkey just reissued three of his novels. This was Toussaint's debut, in 1985, and it's a quick entertaining read about the desire toward inaction. I liked it more than I remember liking Toussaint's Television, which I remember thinking was kinda meh (though I might like it more now, having enjoyed The Bathroom a lot).

Incidentally, it took me less than two hours to read this book, but in that time two people looked hard at the cover (by Nicho
May 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
I read a description (somewhere) of Toussaint being something of a French Jarmusch and since then, I've had a difficult time trying to avoid imagining "Broken Flowers" era Bill Murray as the protagonist of each of Toussaint's novels - especially this one. He doesn't fit the character - who tells us he is twenty-seven going on twenty-nine - but it's really, really hard for me to escape this.

Contrary to some opinions, a lot happens in Toussaint's novels; most of the time, though, it's not typicall
Jun 03, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When I began to spend my afternoons in the bathroom, I had no intentions of moving into it; no, I would pass some pleasant hours there, meditating in the bathtub, sometimes dressed, othertimes naked.

12. Images without sounds are powerless to express horror. If the last few seconds of life of the ninety billion humans who have died since the earth was formed could be filmed and shown in succession in a movie theater, the spectacle would, I think, soon pall. If on the other hand the final osunds
May 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: dalkey-archive
Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s first novel is a good example of the quirky, whimsical, mostly-plot-free narrative he’s known for. I’m not especially blown away by Toussaint’s stories, so what is it about this guy? Well, I think you really read Toussaint for the unexpected laughs that he pulls out of you on a regular basis. And the books are so short, which, I’m sure, is key to this type of writing. Oh, and this novel has one shocking moment in it that’s unlike anything in later Toussaint books.

An enj
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
A very funny book about a man who prefers to live in his bathroom, or as he says in his own words "the bathroom was where I felt best". The theme of mobility and immobility is key here. In the beginning the narrator decides to live in the bathroom in Paris but then contrarily he moves to Venice only to confine himself to another limited space: his Venetian hotel. The humour is mostly deadpan, but a dart thrown in the heat of the moment provided me with the best laugh. Another highlight is the fr ...more
Sep 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: kafka, beckett fans
Shelves: alive
a pretty fun book. A man wants to stay in his bathroom. There are some Polish artists painting his kitchen and trying to prep an octopus for dinner. Then the man moves to Venice and buys some underwear and tennis balls and hangs out and has slightly bound up sex in his room.

I think it's the point, but I wish there was something more pulling the story along than the ridiculously 'French' voice. I loved it, the voice is so immediate and fun, but didn't race through. Made me want to read Televisio
Feb 16, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Story about a weird, gloomy Austrian who spends most of his time either in the bathroom of his Paris apartment or in a decrepit Venice hotel. Nice premise, boring story. I laughed a few times and I get the subtle Jacques Tati-esque humor that attempts to play off the absurdities of modern life but, I wasn't feeling it. Toussaint's writing(or the translation of his writing) is so simple and plain that it becomes easily forgettable rather than the effectual interplay it attempts with the themes of ...more
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Jean-Philippe Toussaint (born 29 November, 1957, Brussels) is a Belgian prose writer and filmmaker. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages and he has had his photographs displayed in Brussels and Japan. Toussaint won the Prix Médicis in 2005 for his novel Fuir. The 2006 book La mélancolie de Zidane (Paris: Minuit, 2006) is a lyrical essay on the headbutt administered by the ...more

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