The character of rain by Amelie Nothomb

Source – Library

Translator – Timothy Bent

Amelie Nothomb is a prize-winning Belgian writer ,she was born in Kobe in Japan and lived in Japan til she was 5 she learnt some Japanese whilst there ,she has had numerous books translated into in English .I ve enjoyed her other books before blogging so really look forward to this and it didn’t let down .

The book focus on Rain a child ,her thoughts as she approaches her third birthday .This is a time the Japanese think think children are gods til the age of three  the Okosma or lord child  .Now this is why I wanted to read this book in particular to compare at some stage to room to see who had caught a child’s voice the best .Now Rain has a wonderful voice, if a bit adult at times and also very funny at times ,she explains how she says mama as her first word and then quickly  has to say papa as she sees dads disappointment that it wasn’t his name first , her brother her sworn enemy ,you she how wonderful the world can appear to a two and half-year old and might I say how down hill it can be from when you reach three .There is a great scene when friends of the parents come with there little boy Hugo ,who Rain initially likes but then he makes friends with her brother ,this is like a first heartbreak but wonderfully funny ending at the same time .

Hugo was a serious and reserved boy .He had made a good impression on me until the moment he went over to the enemy -my brother .The two boys became inserable .To punish him I decided not to name him Hugo .

A first heart-break maybe …

The book is obviously based  partly on her own life ,rain is a child of a Belgium family living in Japan ,this book deals with growing up in a foreign land  been spoken to in two languages ,near the end of the book rain discovers and is fascinated with water ponds river rain .This is a very Japanese way at looking at the world a culture than loves the changing seasons and elements .I love rain she so jumps of the page and became a precious two and half-year old in my head .

Have you read any of her books ?

Do you like books set in Japan by non-Japanese writers ?

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gavin
    Mar 05, 2011 @ 20:26:33

    I’ve had this one on my TBR list for a while. It sounds really intriguing to me, both because it is written by a European who lived in Japan as a child and because it is written from the point of view of a child.

    The only book about Japan written by a non-Japanese author I have read is “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet” by David Mitchell. I really enjoyed it.

    Reply

  2. Emily Jane
    Mar 05, 2011 @ 20:55:15

    I read this book and kind of hated it. I just couldn’t accept that such a young narrator could have such lofty insights and developed worldviews. I didn’t know that the Japanese considered young children to be godly, though. Perhaps that knowledge would have made the reading more interesting to me.

    Reply

  3. Bina
    Mar 05, 2011 @ 21:03:39

    Sounds really interesting. It’s so difficult to have a child narrator, especially one so young. I’ve only read one of Nothomb’s works, Sulphuric Acid, but pretty much loved her reality show dystopia.

    Reply

  4. Heather
    Mar 05, 2011 @ 21:52:56

    Interesting to view the world from a 3 year olds point of view. I wonder did the author watch and observe children to come up with the story, or paper research? From my kids and other children, I’ve seen that they view the world differently than an adult. Not just from a height perspective either. Things are very black and white. Different.

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  5. Petty Witter
    Mar 06, 2011 @ 15:10:46

    Sounds like a promising read. I’ve recently read several books based in Japan and have to say the two I like least were both written by Japanese women. Nothing wrong with the stories I just didn’t like the style of writing in one book wheras in the second the language used was so ‘flowery’ that the author failed to portray the really awful situation the main character found herself in.

    Reply

  6. Sarah
    Mar 06, 2011 @ 23:23:15

    I’m glad you reviewed this. My interest is certainly piqued. Thank you. Sounds as though it has some things in common with A Life of Hunger, which I liked very much. I haven’t seen much Nothomb in local bookshops and I am hoping for Fear and Trembling next, but if I see this one I shall get it instead. Cheers, Stu!

    Reply

  7. Kelly
    Mar 07, 2011 @ 01:00:01

    I recently read her book Biographie de la faim, which I think is translated into Life of Hunger.. LOVED it! I couldn’t put it down and have one more of her books waiting to be read that I had shipped from France. Next time I order a big box of French books, I’ll definitely include this one :) And any other of her books I can get my hands on. If all of her books are like Biographie de la faim, then she will quickly become a favorite author of mine :)

    Reply

  8. Rise
    Mar 08, 2011 @ 17:55:57

    I’ve read Nothomb’s Loving Sabotage. It’s an exquisite comic novel. Would love to read more by her.

    Reply

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