Hygiene and the assassin /
Amélie Nothomb ; translated from the French by Alison Anderson.
New York, N.Y. : Europa Editions, 2010.
167 p. ; 21 cm.
193337277X (pbk.), 9781933372778 (pbk.) :
More Details
New York, N.Y. : Europa Editions, 2010.
193337277X (pbk.)
9781933372778 (pbk.) :
general note
Translation of: Hygiène de l'assassin.
catalogue key
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2010-09-15:
Noble Prize winner Pretextat Tach-the world's most famous living author-is dying of a rare form of cancer and decides to break from his reclusive life by allowing five journalists to interview him in his dismal apartment. The first four are men who quickly run out of the building whimpering, dumbfounded, and in a condition that only extreme amounts of alcohol can remedy. The fifth, Nina, succeeds where her colleagues fail by keeping control of the conversation and demanding an apology from Tach for his insufferable, hateful comments. Throughout the interview, many topics are combatively discussed: religion, love, family, misogyny, literature, and murder. Digging into archival records, Nina confronts Tach with a secret kept by him for some 65 years, exposing a horror that will make readers shudder. This secret is not only at the core of Tach's literary oeuvre but also his very essence. Nothomb's first published work (1992), this novel was made into an opera adapted by Daniel Schell in 1995, a movie starring Jean Yanne in 1999, and, here debuts in English with a brilliant translation. VERDICT Multiple prize winner Nothomb's work will surely keep readers dazzled, mystified, and entertained. Written in fantastically spare but precise prose, it will stand for decades to come.-Lisa Rohrbaugh, National Coll. Lib., Youngstown, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2010-09-13:
Written nearly two decades ago, this is the first novel of the award-winning Nothomb to be translated into English (beautifully so, by Alison Anderson). The shocking, morbid tale follows Pretextat Tach, a brilliant Nobel Prize-winning author who's also an obese, embittered, reclusive, racist, and sexist old man dying of a rare form of cancer. When the world learns Tach has only months left to live, journalists scramble for an interview. Five are selected, and the first four leave their interviews humiliated by the offensive author. But then the fifth journalist arrives. Unlike the others, Nina has not only read Tach's work but also investigated his life, discovering appalling secrets the author had thought were buried forever. As Nina slowly peels Tach's life apart in front of him, his hatred for her turns to respect. Nina's arrival obliterates the book's languid pacing, bringing much more than a strong-willed persona to the proceedings. Her startling revelations lead to a dramatic and unexpected ending that illuminates why the world, if not always its English-speaking inhabitants, loves Nothomb. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Library Journal, September 2010
Publishers Weekly, September 2010
Boston Globe, November 2010
New York Times Book Review, December 2010
New York Times Full Text Review, December 2010
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Main Description
Published in English for the first time, Nothomb's award-winning novel tells the story of a reclusive and dying Nobel laureate author who grants access to five journalists. But what they find is far from the literary luminary they imagined.

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