Amelie, a well-intentioned and eager young westerner, goes to Japan to spend a year working at the Yumimoto Corporation. Returning to the land where ...Show synopsisAmelie, a well-intentioned and eager young westerner, goes to Japan to spend a year working at the Yumimoto Corporation. Returning to the land where she was born is the fulfilment of a dream for Amelie, but working there turns into a comic nightmare of terror and self-abasement. Disturbing, hilarious and totally convincing Fear and Trembling displays an elegant and shrewd understanding of the intricate ways Japanese relationships are made and spoiled.Hide synopsis
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I strongly agree with the review by Cheryl
As one grinds on through this woeful tale, it becomes increasingly clear that the protagonist is far less a "victim" of cultural misunderstandings than she is of her own personality. It is - very- difficult to believe that she could possibly have been so ignorant of Japanese etiquette, mores and business ethics. (Concerning the latter, one only need consider a moment how her self-serving actions might have been rewarded at a western corporation, and the the Japanese way seems infinitely more civilized!)
Summation: the story of an ambitious, snobby little egotist with a huge sense of entitlement (not very different from the author of The Devil Wears Prada). The comedy (I would rather call it irony) is that she actually does seem to believe she is destined to reap the best of both worlds, by displaying her unabashed western ambition in a culture known for nothing if not its centuries-old traditions of teamwork and self-effacement. Finding, to her shock, that she is not exempt from the rules, she rapidly degenerates into masochism and pathological attention seeking (a further clue that she probably knew what she was getting into- in for a penny, in for a pound). This does not prevent it from being an interesting situation, but Nothomb's persistent if muted insistence in her own victimhood is annoying.
My reading was of an English translation, so I will not comment on style.
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