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Book Review of Fear and Trembling, by Amélie Nothomb

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review by Anne-Lise Artaud

This month’s book got quite exotic as we read about a very familiar and close topic to us, expats. Fear and Trembling by Amélie Nothomb was a very interesting book about expatriation, how to deal with it, how to survive it and make the best out of it.

We were able to discuss the struggles and advantages of living an expat life. Maybe nothing as exotic as Japanese expatriation, but even if the Netherlands is a welcoming country, we still all had some struggles to face with this new culture and some adapting to do.

The book itself is about a lovely young lady from Belgium going to live one year abroad. She is going to Japan, a country where she already has some attachments and knows the language. Through this book she explains, with a lot of self-derision, the struggle of adapting to a new culture. Given that the culture is Japanese, the challenge is even harder because she has to face the eternal cleavage between East/West. It was very interesting to exchange ideas on this particular topic because, this life experience is very personal and even if we could relate to others’ experiences, this is still a very personal challenge. The book could demonstrate this fact by the powerful and sometimes exaggerated emotional encounters and by the way the author was relating high points of her personal experience.

It was a very charming read that permitted us all to laugh and remember good memories about our first steps in the Netherlands. It reminded us too, the reason why we made this choice and why we decided to give it a shot, finishing by transforming us into the best version of ourselves, thanks to the rich learnings we have through expatriation.


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