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The Character of Rain

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  9,342 ratings  ·  564 reviews
The Japanese believe that until the age of three, children, whether Japanese or not, are gods, each one an okosama, or "lord child." On their third birthday they fall from grace and join the rest of the human race. In Amelie Nothomb's new novel, The Character of Rain, we learn that divinity is a difficult thing from which to recover, particularly if, like the child in this ...more
ebook, 176 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2000)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  9,342 ratings  ·  564 reviews


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Petra-X
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Adina
Nov 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short, japan, belgium
Another good one from Nothomb. I love her short but powerful novels. This wants to be her autobiography from the age of 2 and 1/2 until 3 while living in Japan. Obviously it is an invention as nobody has memories from that time as the author pretends to have. However, it is a special book and Amelie is a wonderful writer. Also, I love to read about her experience of Japan despite it being mostly fiction.
Salam Ch
just finished the French version so currently reading the English version before the rating till now it s quite better :-)

this is the weirdest autobiography I ever read!! starting reading it in French with a tube a god and a vegetable what the hell !!! either am not understanding or this writer is hyper crazy couldn't tie anything together so I decided to finish the French version and read the English version coz I didnt want any idea or word to slip without looking deeply to it and she rocked m
...more
MJ Nicholls
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book narrated by a two-year-old intellectual prodigy, slyly based on the author’s own upbringing in Japan. As the blurb states, the book looks at the Japanese notion of okosama, or the Lord Child, a piece of lore where children are revered as Gods until they are three. This is true of a toddler’s own outlook: there is no one more important in the world than themselves—attention lavished on others is downright insulting.

What transpires is a curious novel about a two-year-old experiencing the wo
...more
Cecily
Really 2.5*: it's not a bad book, but I didn't really enjoy it (fortunately, it's very short).

This describes Nothomb's life from her birth until her third birthday. The youngest child of a Belgian diplomat in Japan, she tells it with the Japanese assumption that children are gods until their third birthday: "at three... you see everything and understand nothing" because you don't remember the previous year (though she claims to). Unfortunately, I quickly found the gimmick of the omniscient and
...more
Lukasz Pruski
Nov 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Writers create worlds in their books. These worlds may be reflections of the real, physical world, but they do not have to be. The only constraint writers are subject to while creating these worlds is to make them internally consistent (and original and captivating, of course). Amelie Nothomb has created in her books a world in which a little child (in "The Character of Rain" the narrator is Amelie herself at the age between two and three) is fully developed intellectually and emotionally, able ...more
Darius
Oct 31, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-belgium
This is a difficult book to describe. Put briefly, the novel attempts to capture the mind of an infant. It is occasionally engaging and sometimes witty, but is spoiled by numerous pseudo-philosophical musings. These supposed pearls of wisdom include the following:

"There isn't any point to remembering that which has no connection to pleasure". Really? No point in remembering your past mistakes, then?

"For children the only true pleasure lies in eating". Obviously no child enjoys playing in the par
...more
Nick Klagge
Aug 15, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found reading this book to be a pretty unpleasant experience--surprising, as it was recommended by a good friend of mine.

The narrator is a child prodigy who goes from age 0 to age 3 in this book. I found her extremely unpleasant, and two main touchstones came to mind. One was Alia Atreides from the "Dune" novels, who is called "The Abomination" because she is born with the memories and mental capacities of an adult. The sense in which this is an "abomination" was left mostly tacit in the Dune
...more
Lavinia
I certainly have no idea how much of it is fiction and how much real memories. I could argue about the impossibility of one remembering actual facts from birth till the 3rd birthday, but it's definitely not important and I can't expect everybody to have my poor memory. Anyway, she freely admits herself to be an ingenious liar, so...

I totally love this insane woman and I so needed this humorous book right now, I wish it worked as an anti-flu shot.
Subhasree Basu
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful novella about the workings of the mind of a three-year old. A sterling example of magical realism where Nothomb attempts to answer a great deal of philosophical questions through the innocence and curiosity of a toddler.
Rihab Sebaaly
Nov 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
That's what I can call a talented writer !
Lisa
Mar 26, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The only thing this book has going for it is that it's short.. And at 132 pages it's still too long. Dont even bother....
Nilu
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Japanese , the character used for Rain is the same as the character used for Amelie.

Amelie is a Belgian who lived her toddler days in Kobe Japan when her diplomat parents were stationed there .This little novella encapsulates her memories from age Two to Three.

‘What a load of crock ?’ would be the first response from anyone after reading that statement. But, let me tell you it’s a delightful read.

It plays like a studio Ghibli movie , where you feel kinship with the animation.
Amelie describes
...more
Anna Stephenson
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is so much fun, would recommend if you want something fairly easy to read in French which is full of wit and charm
Rue Matthiessen
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting, flawed book. It's hard to pull off a far out, philosophical, west meets east narrative like this. High concept reading, for sure. But a distinct voice, and a fearless one. Though it didn't work as a whole, the ideas and vision were strong enough that it sustained this reader, for one. I do recommend it as a departure from the ordinary.
Marjolein
Oct 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
French is not my first language, nor my second. So the first times I started reading this I never got past page 17. For many months I ignored the book. Then a week ago I took it with me on the train and when I got home again I had reached page 57.

This is an amazing book, written from the point of view of a child between two-and-a-half and three years old, except for the first part of the book where the same child has a rather strange start in life which is told in third person (but still as muc
...more
Tessa
Jun 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A more detailed description of Amelie's childhood. Like all her autobiographical works, I loved it!

The beginning was a most awkward and fascinating one. She awakes at the taste of chocolate, oh Amelie, I think I understand what you are trying to say. Chocolate is a most exquisite food, is it not? :)

When the "tube" finally awakens we get to see her experience in the beautiful Japan. I do think I loved Japan more through her eye. Every-time I hear about this country I fall in love again, they are
...more
Yulia
Apr 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japandemonium
I have to say, Nothomb's books fascinate me. It's best not to read them as memoirs, though she draws from her life, as she freely admits she loves to lie and doesn't care if she's believed. That said, this is the story of a child/God/tube from day one to shortly after her third birthday. From scrupulously debating within herself what should be her third spoken word to finally confessing to her parents she knows how to speak (complex thoughts in complex sentences), Nothomb's little creation bears ...more
Simon
Mar 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, french
Already the one-line description "an autobiography from age 0-3" had me intrigued, but I wasn't prepared for the amount and level of philosophical thought, not to mention wit, which could be incorporated into what is essentially a 150-page toddler's internal monologue. Tweeness is avoided by having the child reason and express herself (in her own mind, if not to others) like an adult (a fairly sophisticated adult at that), which makes the contrast with her infantile emotional states and physical ...more
Heather
Aug 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow--the most original work of fiction in 100 years of fiction. I usually don't review more than "a good beat, and I can dance to it," but this exploration of mind, self, and whether we are part of the world or separate from it makes the old existentialists seem like the children. The narrator/god explains her perception, from birth to age three. Will she have desires, or just be whole? The universe (Japan) embraces her, and those in tune with the universe understand that an act as simple as sav ...more
Alexis
Jul 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a totally different idea of what the book was supposed to be about at the beginning, then slowly and surely understood the irony in her voice. Cute book, interesting cultural notations as well.
Elifcan
Jul 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is one of its kind. while i was reading the book it was like i was also living it in my daily life. I didnt want it to be over. Her way of writing is very distinctive. She makes her criticsm on patriarchal society is the part I mostly enjoy reading
El Vladu
Jan 21, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It´s a big nothing. I did´nt like it. Maybe Amelie writes a lot of books, but... Books are not shits. You don´t produce them every day... Sorry, I think this was just a waste of time.
Bonnie
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely little novel - funny and insightful.
Maryam Watever
“People are often asked what, as children, they wanted to be when they grew up. In my case it would be better to ask my parents. Their replies would provide an idea of precisely what I didn’t want to be when I grew up.”

As a kid, I’ve always wanted to be a scientist, not necessarily having a specific specialization in mind, but since i secretly liked insects, i was gradually fantasizing about becoming an entomologist as a grown up. I was also fond of astronomy and had the urge to learn more about
...more
mohamad Shibly
Okosama, the lord child. As a child, the whole world revolves around you, that makes you god in your own eyes. The book is a narration of the authors first three years of life told by an adult and how she remembers those three years. The book focuses on self-awareness and development. I loved the references to “words” and “language”, the author seems to place weight on etymology through easily understandable, light and funny sentences. i liked the symbolism of the fish, and her feelings towards ...more
Sandra Falke
The Character of Rain is a perspective on life, drawn by a two-year-old Belgian girl who grows up in Japan, where she is doted on by her Japanese nanny in a manner similar to worship. However, the girl still feels lonely and neglected by her family, which leads her to reflect on her existance being similar to a tube, where food, opinions, information and emotions go in and come out – processed in a manner depending which input went in – at the other.

Although she experiences a happy childhood, he
...more
Marija Nedjalkova
This is a very unusual book for me, and, in general, I am glad I read it. I found some parts to be really interesting, for example, the portrayal of a bilingual child, because I found it very relatable. The book also allowed me to learn a little about the Japanese culture and the way people there think.

However, I did not like the book. The main reason for that being one of the main issues raised by the author - the issue of feminism. Of course, a two year old child cannot be expected to view th
...more
Maren
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
This was my first book by Nothomb and I am so glad I finally read something by this author!

In an attempt to read more translated fiction (it is women in translation month after all) I looked up some short translated reads. I've heard people talk about Nothomb a lot but I am usely scared to try out an author who has published this many books. If I enjoy their book, I have endless books to add to my already large wishlist of books. If I don't like their book, do I try out another? It only seems fa
...more
Zineb Tahri
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once i started this one, i couldn't put it down. It pulls you in such a way that you feel like you're the one living what the main character was living, through her eyes, feeling her emotions, asking her questions and thinking about the answers. The humour was top notch, i loved how at times it was dark and cynical and how it dealt with such graciousness and sense of unurgency with subjects like suicide and death. This was the first book i have picked of Amélie Nothomb and i will certainly get t ...more
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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 fa
...more

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