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Tokyo Fiancee Paperback – 30 Dec 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Europa Editions (30 Dec. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933372648
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933372648
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 38,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 Jan. 2009
Format: Paperback
Acclaimed Belgian author Amelie Nothomb reminisces in this novel about her life in Japan in 1989. She was twenty-one that year, a recent college graduate seeking her emotional roots, and she had just returned to Japan, where she was born and lived with her diplomat parents for the first five years of her life. To earn some money while she studies business, she posts an advertisement offering language classes in French. She is immediately hired by Rinri, a twenty-year-old college student whose French is at the beginner level, despite several years of teaching by Japanese teachers. Before long, their teacher-student relationship becomes more intimate, and Amelie is learning more about Japanese culture than she ever expected.

Perceptively analyzing the communication problems faced by Amelie and Rinri because of their different cultures, the novel warmly and humorously explores their relationship, never taking the differences too seriously despite the confusions that sometime arise. When she meets some of his friends whom she has not met before, she knows that "To meet someone and fail to talk about the weather is to betray a lack of manners," yet she persists in trying to get to know his friends better and to find a subject of common interest for conversation, even though she may be intrusive. She is embarrassed and surprised when he insists on paying her teaching fee when they have been out socializing with his friends, yet Amelie genuinely likes Rinri, and he makes her happy.
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By J. Nichols on 8 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I personally have arrived late to feast at Amélie Nothomb's table. Here follow the thoughts of an individual who has encountered a new literary phenomenon ! For a more conventional review I recommend Mary Whipple's on this site.

At one level this short autobiographical novel is about an affair that takes place in Tokyo between a young part-time teacher, herself a student in Japan learning Japanese, and a young Japanese learning French. But at another it may be appreciated as the ultimate escapist literature. One must suspend one's everyday assumptions and go with the counter-flow, so to speak. It is pointless to try and hold onto a normal vision of reality. Every experience becomes enhanced, for better or for worse. To read Nothomb is to envisage trying to swim against the tide or to make the perfect mayonnaise in the dark ! It is a mind expanding experience, not without the risk of causing the intrepid reader a few nightmares subsequently. In other words I found it highly stimulating in a rather Gothic manner and would strongly recommend trying it. It must be less addictive and less noxious than cocaine !

An addendum about the title which is boringly self-explanatory in English. In French it is called "Ni d'Eve, ni d'Adam" named after a particularly forgettable film directed by Jean Paul Giveyrac and released in 1997. It must have appealed to Nothomb because it can vaguely be translated as "Nobody's Child" - which turns out to be far more revealing about the author of this book.
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Format: Paperback
If you have enjoyed Fear and Trembling you will also enjoy Tokyo Fiancee. It is a companion piece dealing with the "author's" experience over two years of going out with a Japanese boyfried.

The first half of the book is particularly enjoyable as the author comes to grips with the customs of the japanese in life and love (and vice versa) - it's light and charming, consistently surprising, and also thought-provoking.

Later, discussions of being lost alone on a snow covered mountain, and being eaten by Japanese mosquitos, though fine (and also thought-provoking - it's in the telling!) in their own right, seem something of a diversion from the main theme of the novel. Above all, though, the central paradox is of a relationship on which the author does not wish to confer permanency, which in a sense she does not wish to end, and from which she gains enjoyment at all times...but somehow not enough. I'd rather she reflected a bit more on "why is this not enough?"

I'm very grateful, though, for what IS here. And I'd strongly recommend this.
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