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Higiene del asesino

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  9,579 ratings  ·  765 reviews
A Prétextat Tach, premio Nobel de Literatura, sólo le quedan 2 meses de vida. Sólo 5 periodistas lograrán entrevistarlo; los 4 primeros serán víctimas del genio moribundo; el quinto, resolverá el enigma con un desenlace imprevisto.
Paperback, 184 pages
Published October 28th 2002 by Circe (first published August 28th 1992)
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How to Read

Reading is therapy for the dread of chaos. Thinking can only make chaos more obvious, and therefore more dreadful. Sex provides merely a temporary distraction from chaos, an interlude between dreadful moments. Gluttony and drugs can be effective remedies for the feelings generated by chaos but they have unfortunate side effects. No, it is only reading that provides a lasting cure for the chaotic meaninglessness of life. Reading does not answer questions, it frames them so that chaos
Glenn Russell

I think like Bertrand Russell, I write like Vladimir Nabokov, and I speak like Christopher Hitchens.

Playing fast and free with dates, the above modified Nabokov quote is in the spirit of what might have been expounded by Prétextat Tach, Nobel Prize winner for Literature and central character in Hygiene and the Assassin, Amélie Nothomb's first novel published in 1992 when the Belgium author was age twenty-six.

Hygiene and the Assassin is written in French, thus I'll refer to the first four
Feb 22, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The main character, Pretextat, being the impetus and pretext here, is the fattest strawberry of a strawman Ive read in a while, thus stuffed competently like a bale of hay he rolls a hollow wind, counter to such rolls of fat written to his flesh, for he is air and err. Conveniently for this parable-parade, here come three journalists like wise men to a manger, filled with bad faith, and they too are strawmen, cowards, ignoramuses, careerists, what have you. Pick up your pitchforks, men, its ...more
Sep 26, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the worst piece of crap I ever had the displeasure of reading. I buddy-read this with the wonderful Frede who made the smart choice of DNFing this trashy book halfway through, alas, I wasn't as smart, and powered through.

Hygiène de l'Assassin is Amélie Nothomb's first novel and the fourth that I have read from her. This made me realize that I am absolutely done with this woman. Out of the four books I read I only enjoyed one (Robert des Noms Propres) and loathed the other three (Les
August 2012

A famous, reclusive, dying writer turns out to be an obese and disgusting old bigot (and "the fattest strawberry of a strawman," according to Jimmy's brilliant review), and none but Nina can cross swords with him. Huzzah.

Too brief? Well, it's a short book--short and entertaining, even if Prétextat Tach is a foul old man. Perhaps because. I certainly chuckled at inappropriate times. Didn't expect to like it--it was bought on a whim a few months ago, grabbed yesterday on the way to the
Nancy Oakes
Hygiene and the Assassin probably qualifies for my "strangest book read this year" award (up there with Little Hands Clapping) but at the same time, there's something unique between the covers of this small novel. The setup for the story is that a Nobel Prize-winning author by the name of Prétextat Tach is about to die. He is the author of twenty-two novels, is extremely reclusive, and has never granted an interview over his long career. Now that he is dying (from Elzenveirverplatz Syndrome -- a ...more
Jan 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, belgium
Best dialogue ever! The whole book is an interview of a Nobel for literature winner which ends to be an interrogation where terrible secrets are uncovered. Highest possible recommendation.
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book on a whim after class one sunny spring afternoon, started it on the bus on my way home and read the entire thing before going to bed that night. I have re-read a few times since and I am always impressed by the fascinating story and the characters vitriolic repartee.

Amélie Nothombs writing has a beautiful flow and cadence, which makes her a wonderful author if you are looking for a quick read, but that is not the reason this book was impossible to put down. The biting
Mar 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Theres not much in this world more delicious than good dialogue. Banter, a back and forth that takes on a life its own, never feeling forced, driving a story to places youd never expect to be taken. Its not often a novel comprised of almost exclusively dialogue-driven passages has such a life to it, a three-dimensional quality that excessive detail would only hamper. But thats exactly the situation with Nothombs Hygiene and the Assassin. This is the first of Nothombs works, published in 1992 ...more
Jul 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sandrine Brisset has written a short an concise review of Hygiene and the Assasin which you can find over on stingingfly.
I could not summarizing Northomb's novel better and particularly insightful is Brissets account of the author herself:

Well aware of the public fascination for celebrities and the potential mystique of many writers, Amélie Nothomb fuelled the publics curiosity by revealing details of her past and by drawing attention to similarities between her novels and her life. She told
Feb 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful send up of the "enfant terrible" tradition in French literature. In content it reminded me (and might have been an influence) of a Danilo Kis story (translated in English as Literature and Balls or something); while, in tone, Croatian writer, Verdana Rudran's underappreciated novel "Night." Not sure of the chronology and the fact that Celine is mentioned repeatedly in the novel, but I had the feeling Nothomb might be taking a swipe at current "enfant terrible," Michel Houellebecq, ...more

Oh my.. what a book, what a book!
I definitely never read anything like that before.
Before moving out from my previous neighbours I saw it by accident on the shelf. Both of my roomates praised it a lot, but since our tastes do not always overlap, I thought-whatever, let's give it a try. And I'm glad that I did.
This book is crazy. A mysogine Nobel prize laureat in literature finds out that he's got 2 months to leave, and allows for the first time to be interviewed. That's why, as one might
جليس  الكتاب
Am I missing something or was it a lousy translation? Or may be both. Wrong book for a long weekend. It leaves you with no satisfaction.
This remarkable novel is written almost entirely in dialogue, though 'relentless volleys of acerbic banter' may well be a superior description. At the centre of this unorthodox theatre, is the dying (and decaying) novelist Pretextat Tach - an absurd, reclusive prick. Preparing for his imminent death from the rare Elzenveiverplatz disease, he grants five journalists a rare audience. His motivations are unclear - is it to massage his hyper-inflated ego, or merely to entertain a bored man facing ...more
Stephen Durrant
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The popular and prolific Belgian novelist Amélie Nothomb is devilishly clever at creating bizarre scenarios and, to say the least, off-beat characters. "Hygiène de l'assassin" was her debut novel (1992) and many still classify it as her best, although I would give that award, by a slight margin, to "Stupeur et Tremblements," a story about a young European woman trying and failing to assimilate into the Japanese working world (Nothomb grew up in Japan). It is fitting, I suppose, that a novelist's ...more
Jan 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not sure how I came accross this one. Someone wrote on the back, "Nothomb finds everything fascinating, and she takes us along an electric current of perception." Keyword: Perception. Sums this up some. A dying writer claims fame based on nobody having read him. Journalists flock to his cancerous body near his death, only to be turned away by his grotesque and disgusting self. Nina is prepared. She did all her homework and can navigate through all his dirt. She is a super effective stander.

Ricardo DeVore
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply phenomenal. It is part novel and part a philosophical reflection on the nature of literary, visual, and classical aesthetics.

The storys core character Pretext Tach, is a man of the highest aesthetic idealism but mystifies his true disposition by maintaining an outwardly cold, calculating harshness, objectivist, and naturalism to the point of being inhuman.

This we find out is merely a fictional performance used by Pretext Tach to deduce which of the journalist that have came to interview
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Having enjoyed the film adaption of Nothomb's novel, Fear and Trembling, I picked up Nothomb's first novel, Hygiene de l'assassin. The central character is a Nobel-prize winning author dying of cancer who spars with various journalists interviewing him seriatim. He is also detestable: racist, sexist, egotistical, completely devoid of any social grace, and physically repulsive. Nothomb gives herself a nearly impossible task in trying to craft a novella with such a revolting person at its core. ...more
May 19, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My first Nothomb, and also her debut (1992). The first half of the book was a pleasant surprise: especially the character of the 83-year-old terminal writer is striking; Pretextat Tach (the name!) is a reincarnated Celine, perhaps even worse in his misanthropy, his misogyny and his ill will. The intensive dialogues have a fresh flavour, and Nothomb knows how to make the cynical-sarcastic bashing of Tach on literary conformism very credible. But then the story makes a turn, an omniscient female ...more
I admit the language use for the author's age when written, twenty-five, is impressive, but I still did not like the novel as a whole. I like a surreal, magical realism, even unbelievable read every so often, but this was a little much for me. There was a clear indication if creativity and ingenuity on the author's part but I did not find myself appreciating any of the characters. I look forward to seeing what else she has written.
Jul 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was difficult to get into until the final chapter when it became much more interesting. The ending leaves me confused, though. Think I will need to read an analysis of this to fully understand.
Doriana Bisegna
Amelie Nothomb is a very quirky and different type of writer! Personally, I find her amusing and very inventive with her characters and stories! This one is a little out there but then again I was expecting something innovative anyway. She didn't disappoint me at all! Quick but very smart read.
Ons Majouli
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, tbr
omg !! i'm confuesed
Monica Carter
Jan 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: btba
"Are you familiar with a review regarding Hygiene of the Assassin, one that I read in a newspaper twenty-four years ago? 'A richly symbolic fairytale, a dreamlike metaphor of original sin and consequently, of the human condition.' When I told you that people read me without reading me! I can allow myself to stray dangerously close to the truth, all anyone will ever see is metaphors. There's nothing surprising about that: the pseudo-reader, clad in his diving suit, can swim perfectly impermeably
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was most interesting. I can easily imagine it as a play, that draws you into the claustrophobia and intensity of the mind of the Tach. On one hand it is disgusting, and misogynistic. But then look around. Our culture IS more than a little like Monsieur Tach. And we, are like Nina. And I won't say more for fear of giving the plot away. Not that you won't figure out where it's going. But this book is about the unfolding, the journey, of realizing what is happening and marveling at the ...more
Sixtine L
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Natia Arsenishvili
Amelie Nothomb became my favorite writer after reading her first book Hygienne de l'assasin. For those who can read in french I strongly suggest to do so.
She simply designates human relationships connected and the meaning of the memory. One important scene where Monsieur Tach is explaining those relations is a true apogee of the book.
I have not seen any comprehensive resume however that truly captures the insight of this book which is quite deceptive.
The author stresses the point, that every
Adi Nagel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tach actually stayed true to himself when it mattered - he despises metaphors (hence wants a literal reading of the novel whose namesake is the title) and bodily grossness (no spoilers, I guess) - and both of that are shown in his revelations at the end. It was an entertaining read full of irony, but I wonder if I might have missed some self-referential jokes?
I bought this on my last trip to France since I had so enjoyed Stupeur et tremblements. I didn't like this as much (it seemed more an exercise in extreme Frenchness than anything), but it is still a very interesting short novel. I continue to love Nothomb's language and outlook and look forward to exploring more of her work.
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صالون الجمعة: نظافة قاتل | 12-2012 211 274 Dec 17, 2012 11:27PM  

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Amélie Nothomb, born Fabienne Claire Nothomb, was born in Etterbeek, Belgium on 9 July 1966, to Belgian diplomats. Although Nothomb claims to have been born in Japan, she actually began living in Japan at 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.
She is from a distinguished Belgian political

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