Amélie Nothomb is a well known author from Belgium, who has written novels such as Hygiène et l’assassin, Le Sabotage amoureux, and Métaphysique des tubes. A daughter of diplomats, Amélie spent her childhood living all over the world, including Japan. Her award winning novel, Stupeur et Tremblements, published in 1999, was based on her own experience moving back to Japan in her adulthood.
The Library Journal says Stupeur et Tremblements is a “charming and humorous tale of East meets West.” The novel is about a young Belgian woman who moves to Japan to be a translator at a prestigious company and discovers the difficulties of the corporate ladder. Amélie Nothomb is a hilarious and entertaining writer, so we suggest any one of her novels!
L'Élégance du Hérisson is by Muriel Barbery, a French novelist and professor of philosophy. The popular book follows the life events of a concierge, Renée Michel, whose deliberately concealed intelligence is uncovered by an unstable but intellectually precocious girl named Paloma Josse, who lives in the Parisian apartment building where Renée works.
The New York Times explains that both narrators “create eloquent little essays on time, beauty and the meaning of life, Renée with erudition and Paloma with adolescent brio.” The novel does consist of many essays on philosophy but the New York Times explains that “even when the novel is most essayistic, the narrators’ kinetic minds and engaging voices propel us ahead.” Barbery's fantastic novel won many prizes, including the Prix du Rotary International in France.
In 2009 the novel was adapted into a film called Le Hérisson, which was greatly received by critics. L'Élégance du Hérisson is an enjoyable and accessible read that will prove to be impossible to put down!