Fear and Trembling (Belgium)

Book #20

Fear and Trembling by Amélie Nothomb, translated by Adriana Hunter

This book was funny. I was not expecting it and over the course of the few hours it took to read, I was laughing out loud and chuckling to myself at the crazy situations in which its protagonist finds herself.

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Amélie is a Belgium native who spent some of her early years in Japan. She returns to the country as a young adult with a goal to work in a Japanese corporation. Yumimoto Corporation is where Amélie-san lands, eager to prove herself and make connections with her coworkers.

Because of the adoration she has for her manager (who does not feel the same) to her inability to do some of the most basic tasks asked of her - Amélie-san gets forced into doing work she hates and faces humiliation no one deserves at work.

Halfway into her humiliation, she comments about how different her work life is from her real life. That in her real life she has friends who love her and she’s part of a community where she has fun and feels fulfilled. But her work life leaves her lonely, put down, and seemingly incapable of almost everything.

Fear and Trembling is a poignant description of work experiences that are all too common at some point in many of our careers. I was cheering for Amélie-san the entire way.

Amélie Nothomb is recognized as one of the best female authors from Belgium. For anyone looking to read someone witty while also insightful, Nothomb is your woman.