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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Belgian Novelist Weirder Than Anyone Would’ve Guessed

posted by on June 17 at 13:00 PM

The Literary Saloon has a link to a Guardian profile of Amélie Nothomb, the Belgian novelist who writes semiautobiographical fiction. Two of her books, The Character of Rain and Fear and Trembling, have been published over here, and they’re both lovely little novels. She writes more than gets published over here, though. A lot more:

Sixteen published novels represent only a fraction of her prodigious output, however. Nothomb declares herself to be in the middle of her 64th manuscript, having reached a rhythm where she completes three or four manuscripts a year, publishing only those which she feels comfortable sharing with others. She describes her writing as being guided completely by instinct, saying she becomes “pregnant” with a book and must deliver it, no matter what. Publication isn’t her main reason for writing, it’s a side-effect of a drive to write which she does not fully understand herself.

I knew she was weird, but I had no idea she was this weird. She also only writes books that are loosely based on her life before she was 25, when she became a bestselling success. That was back in ‘92. Her life after that “doesn’t inspire” her.

If you haven’t read Nothomb before, you might want to give her a look—I bought both her novels used up at Third Place a little while back and virtually swallowed them whole. Also, the movie made of her novel Fear and Trembling is really good, though it’s only available at Scarecrow because it hasn’t been released on video in America.

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Third Place books sells used up novels? Why? And why would you buy them if they've been used up?

Posted by elenchos | June 17, 2008 1:10 PM

Wow, a writer of fiction with eccentric affectations and obsessions. Who would have thunk it?

Posted by Jay | June 17, 2008 1:30 PM

Most real writers express the same thing as she did, just with fancier words.

She's not that unusual.

You write because you have to.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 17, 2008 2:02 PM

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